Around 18 months, young children reach the developmental age to sort and match shapes, colours as well as pictures. It's a good time to start simple yet fun sorting activities to boost their cognitive and problem-solving abilities.
Gwen did shape-sorting pretty early on so I thought I'll introduce her to another world of sorting -- colours! I made Gwen's first colour sorter toy at 17 months and left it at her play area for her to explore. She didn't take any interest in it for weeks! Yikes!
One day I decided to rotate toys in her play area and she found me moving that colour sorter toy away and immediately cried out, "Me! Me! Me!" (Translation: Give me!)
I passed the toy to her and to my amazement, she started fitting the coloured popsicle sticks into their corresponding holes in the box without any prompt from me. I WAS FLOORED.
How kids learn and when they choose to demonstrate what they have learnt continue to take me by surprise.
This is also a good reminder not to "push" children to engage in any activity and to take a more child-led approach. When our children are ready, they will stun you with what they can achieve.
First Colour Sorting Activity for Young Toddlers!
I was hugely inspired By Happy Tot Shelf's DIY Color Matching Toddler Learning Rainbow Toy.
Some modifications I made to tailor the toy to young toddler level!
- I cut crosses instead of slits to slot the popsicle sticks through, so it's easier for young toddlers and they're encouraged by the small successes
- As a first color sorter toy, I didn't want to overcomplicate and overwhelm so I streamlined to 3 primary colors. In fact, I would even recommend just 2 contrasting colors for starters! Gwen already knows blue so I thought 3 would be just nice.
Remember to use a box with shorter height than the popsicle sticks so the sticks don't fall into the box and can be poked in and pulled out easily. If you have to use a taller box such that sticks drop into the box, cut an opening on the side of the box so your child can independently retrieve the dropped sticks. That will encourage longer playtime.
Benefits of Sorting
- Enable a child to make sense of the world and create order in her life through organising like and different objects
- Sorting helps children acquire early math skills so they can group numbers and sets and understand numerical concepts better
- Help child apply logical thinking and problem-solving to their way of playing
- Enable a child to spot and self-correct errors (The Montessori way is to let the child try it on her own after you have done the demonstration. Yes as a parent it can be hard to watch a child put sticks in the wrong slots without intervening but trust that she will in time realise it and self-correct. Letting your child figure it out on her own builds self-confidence.)
If you like this activity, you can try making a Straw and Felt Loop Fine Motor Color Sorting Toy.
To follow Gwen's play adventures, check out @miraculove_sg (Instagram) or A Toddler Activity A Day Facebook Group.
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Hi! I am Yunnie. I am the newly minted mama to a little baby girl and a mum friend to everyone on this special (and many times scary) journey of motherhood. Also a graduated bride with a penchant for weddings.