Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Autumn Leaf Sorting

Sorting and visual discrimination activities are always ones that I love to work on with my little guy! You can teach so many concepts and new vocabulary words just through sorting. Today we used a bag of fabric autumn leaves from Michaels.

I like to write the words big/little (or whatever categories we are using to sort) on pieces of scrap paper and put them by the container those sized objects go in. I also like to draw a picture next to the word as a visual cue.

Materials all ready to be sorted!

Not only can sorting be a great independent activity for little kids, but it can also be a great conversational practice activity for you and your child... because it isn't so complex that it requires tons and tons of focus... and it brings up lots of different discussions. I am always surprised at the new phrases/sentences my son whips out when we are doing activities like that.

When he puts an object in the wrong container, sometimes I correct him and sometimes I wait... today I waited and then later he noticed the smaller leaf in the big bowl and said, "Oh, look at the cute little baby leaf, it doesn't go there." Sometimes the learning happens without adults needing to interfere!

These fabric leaves that I found had so many different colors and they also had veins that literally popped out like real leaves... so we had fun talking about the textures of the veins and comparing the veins on the different leaves.

When we were all done we talked about how the big leaf pile looked bigger... but that was because the leaves inside the bowl were bigger. My son loved talking about the "cute baby leaves" and asking me if I wanted to hold them and saying "Mommy, aren't they so cute?"

After we did this activity together, my little guy wanted to do it again. I left him alone and went and put some dishes away in the other part of the room. It was funny to watch as he grabbed handfuls of leaves and then just stuck them in any bowl and rushed to try and finish the activity. He obviously enjoyed it more and took it more seriously when I sat with him! I think we have a few more sessions of guided practice before this will become an independent activity for him.

Skills we worked on:
- distinguishing between big/little
- talking about the colors... most leaves had 2-3 colors
- discussed how we can mix colors to make other colors (for example, red and yellow can make orange)
- visual discrimination practice- we talked about the differences among the smaller leaves (more pokey parts, bumpier veins, brighter colors, more colors) and then we looked at the bigger leaves and talked about the differences between that group (many were similar to the smaller leaves... but were just bigger!).
- creating simple statements/observations about the leaves: "This leaf has a little bit of red, a little bit of yellow, and a little bit of orange on it." As the adults make a lot of observations as they sort, the child starts copying them. I was amazed at how much longer and more intricate my son's sentences were at the end of this activity (after listening to me), compared to at the beginning of this activity.

Other ways you could sort the leaves:
- color
- shape
- number of points
- texture of veins
- type of leaf (maple, etc.)


  1. I really like this idea. Maybe we'll try it with some real leaves. It would be a fun activity to do outdoors.

  2. Great idea! We might try that too once we have colorful leaves on the ground.


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