Starting around 18 months, toddlers begin to notice differences and commonalities between objects—which means it’s time to sort and group!
HOW THEY PLAY: Preschoolers naturally seek to organize objects by color, size, shape, texture and type. Feed their hunger for this type of play by providing sorting toys like lacing beads, sorting cubes, and block assortments, and encourage your child to sort with all his senses: Is that a bird or a dog making noise outside? Is this a dark or a light towel? Are these groceries warm or cold? They’ll be happily busy working on this exciting new skill . . . and you may even get some help putting the groceries away and sorting the laundry!
WHAT THEY’RE LEARNING: As kids observe each item and think through which ones are the same and which are different, they’ll be developing visual perception and cognitive skills. The thought processes being practiced now—The red blocks are different from the blue blocks—will later emerge during the school years as your child tackles numbers, letter formation, spelling, scientific observation, and much more. Your child is also building verbal skills as he considers different ways to describe each object and group.
Provide lots of variety and plenty of play time to help these key skills grow. And join in! Hearing your different perspective may help your child see new cognitive connections . . . and you’ll be strengthening emotional connections, too.