Preschoolers love to sort because it helps them make sense of things. Sorting and classifying teaches children about how things are similar and different from each other. These skills help children develop logical thinking and set the foundation for future math skills. The important thing for early childhood educators is to remember how to make practicing this skill playful, engaging, and meaningful for our students.
While I have always taught at schools that use a thematic calendar I have always used an emergent curriculum while loosely following the theme calendar I am given. In the fall there are apples everywhere in Washington State, including my front yard, and the orchard on my preschool grounds. It makes sense as our class explored apples to include apple sorting as a table activity that children could choose to do during free choice. This activity could also make a great simple circle time activity.
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Gather your materials. You will need the three printables ( small and large apple trees, and the sheet of apples), scissors, and a laminator. You may also want a dish to hold the apples before sorting.
Print out the two apple tree mats and apples ( click on the images to print).
Laminate it all.
Remember to make it meaningful connect this with other things, a trip to the orchard to pick apples, books about apples, or even simply a snack of apples. We don’t have to hit kids will a theme for every single activity but making connections can help make things more meaningful.
Sometimes teachers get stuck in our terms and jargon but for those of you wondering what the heck I just said, all differentiate means is to change something, in this case, an activity to meet the needs of the child. So usually it means making it “easier” or “harder”.
To make this activity with all the same materials more challenging grab a dry erase marker and add numbers. Remember that there are already some apples on the tree so you will probably want to do this with a child the first few times. Don’t forget you can print out as many trees and apples as you want.
If you like this idea you will LOVE the sorting, circle time, and craft ideas in our Apples Thematic Unit. Check it out here and all the other thematic units we have for you too!