Sorting is about realising that things we come across can be recognised in some way – or not. If we have a system of categorisation (which may be generally accepted or idiosyncratic), then when we come across a new thing we can put it in a group we have – or start a new group. Children often reveal how they are thinking about things, and what sorting strategies they are using. Sometimes these differ from the adult idea! I recall a small child in preschool pointing at my nice new loose shirt and asking with scorn in his voice what is that? I answered that it was a shirt, to which he retorted that shirts don’t be black and walked away. Others will exclude things from a category on the basis they don’t like them, or give word definitions in subjective terms like we got one.
Of course vocabulary so underpins our language skills that it comes into everything and time spent on developing understanding for vocabulary, categories etc. is never wasted.
There are lots of resources for sorting. The biggest one I have uploaded has some guidance for those who would like it with lots of pictures and ideas. Most children with speech and language difficulties benefit hugely from extra visual help.
Sorting may be accomplished using knowledge and understanding of the world without spoken language but in most cases is closely linked to vocabulary. Learning to understand the vocabulary associated with daily life and school topics is very important. Without understanding, parroting the words is unhelpful.
Here are links to some of my teaching resources. (Many other resources give a vocabulary page for a specific topic. At school, the topics all have associated vocabulary and it is very helpful for children with any language delay to have this with illustrations in advance of the topic being taught. You can search for curriculum topics for the correct key stage or special needs on the TES site.)
CATEGORY PICTURES FOR COGNITIVE VOCABULARY sort and vocab 1 Match, sort, group, choose, associate, exclude. Category cards with four examples of each category for vocabulary learning and sorting. Additional set includes some early topics (Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Vikings, Tudors, Victorians, WWII) and curriculum lessons. An ideas map outlines the development of language skills in this area for children in Preschool and Foundation and four books detail graded activities you can carry out with these cards or other card sets (e.g. topic pictures). Useful for children with or without language delay/disorder. Could also be used for EAL work.
DOGS and CATS and FISH and BIKES and CARS sort and vocab 2 8 pages of bikes, cars, dogs, cats, birds and fish to be printed as four A4 pages. The fish are in two sizes. Print 2-up single-sided on A4. Use paper for the cut and stick activity, or card to make sorting cards. With one set of pictures on paper (printed 2-up single-sided), you will be able to do the 4 pages of reading-for-meaning cut and stick work. There is sufficient symbol support for many less able children to ‘read’ the symbols and succeed in finding the correct pictures. Tentative readers will be helped by the symbols too. The sorting grids should be printed A4 size, single-sided. Many children interpret pictures too literally and will say there are only two wheels on a car because those are all that can be seen. The grids are for sorting by 0/2/4 legs; different movement styles; and 2/4 wheels. Use the fish pictures to work on big and little.
PICTURE SETS: EARLY AND TOPIC VOCABULARY sort and vocab 3 Symbols (c) Widgit Software 2010. Pages of pictures in sets of 10 for a variety of tasks. Adaptable for many levels – see Suggestions page. Matching, association pairs, categories, similarities, prepositions, opposites, and parts of the whole. Use for comprehension, naming, modelling sentences, cut and stick, writing, and games.
SIMPLE SORT BOXES: COLOUR, SIZE, VERBS, OBJECTS sort and vocab 4 Sorting boxes for things you will have available (e.g. counters and sorting toys) plus sheets of pictures to cut into cards for less easily found things. Print on A4 card, single-sided. Developmentally early level but useful for children with learning difficulties.
HOMES, FOOD, ANIMALS sort and vocab 5 You can play Lotto arranged as a grid, Pairs, sorting into the sort boxes, and use the discussion ideas.
BASIC INFORMATION VOCABULARY sort and vocab 6 4 pages including MONTHS and SEASONS, DAYS OF THE WEEK, O’CLOCK TIME, and ALL ABOUT ME. You can build up a useful long-term resource by adding a vocabulary page for every new topic.
LOTS OF VERBS PODD CAN DO sort and vocab 7 Verbs people do: movement, vocalising and expressing emotion verbs. Verbs animals can do.
A-Z JOBS sort and vocab 8 Cut out job descriptions and match to alphabet pages and stick. Lots to talk about.
A-Z ADJECTIVES sort and vocab 9 Fun collection of adjectives to discuss and try to use in stories.
FORCES (PUSH/ PULL ETC.) VOCABULARY sort and vocab 10 Vocabulary pages to do with forces.
ANTARCTICA VOCABULARY sort and vocab 11 Vocabulary pages are included in this set of resources.
ENVIRONMENTS – ACTIVITY AND VOCABULARY sort and vocab 12 Activity to match animals to their environments, providing the opportunity to talk about why they live there, what the animals are called and so on. Extra vocabulary sheets provide illustrations with PCS or Widgit symbols of words that may be needed for the topic in general, and for visiting a local wood to see what people are using it for.
INSTRUMENTS AND SOUND (ACOUSTICS) VOCABULARY sort and vocab 13 Six pages of vocabulary illustrated with PCS or Widgit symbols highlighting different musical instruments and the force that makes them work, loud/quiet and high/low sounds, and some of the words needed for more advanced discussion about the physics of sound.
LIVING THINGS – ORGANISING INFORMATION sort and vocab 14 A suite of related information sheets with PCS or Widgit symbols to help children focus on animal features and behaviours and discuss the topic meaningfully. Plenty for non-readers. Ideas are adaptable to a different animal pair though this show-and-tell is about dogs and foxes.
FOODS, STORAGE AND KITCHEN UTENSILS: VOCABULARY sort and vocab 15 Illustrated with PCS or Widgit symbols. There are foodstuffs to sort into four storage places: the freezer, fridge, fruit bowl and cupboard. The kitchen utensils cover a wide variety of very common objects. The suggestions for discussion include ideas for naming, telling why, telling how to, describing differences and so on.
COMMON SEQUENCES sort and vocab 16 Days, months, seasons, 1-20 words, alphabet, coins. Learn and practise these sequences we need to know. Hints about related skills. Illustrated with PCS or Widgit symbols.
NAMING OF PARTS sort and vocab 17 Ten large pictures of well-known items (e.g. house, bike, car) each with six parts to name on smaller pictures. Target specific vocabulary for components or related items. Ten suggestions for language activities for 1-1 or small group work. No text on children’s pictures. Games pages better if printed A4 single-sided on card.
TRANSPORT AND JOURNEYS sort and vocab 18 Four pages of vocabulary pictures with labels. Three cover different types of transport and the fourth has items to do with transport or journeys, plus nine small pictures of possible scenarios for making a journey. Print vocabulary pages on card for making games or cutting up, or on paper for a folder. Guide has suggestions for use.
NARR/VOCAB PICS /NATIVITY BK /CHRISTMAS STORY /WRITE STORY sort and vocab 19 Christmas vocabulary and lots more.
SPACE sort and vocab 20 Space vocabulary of 20 useful topic words (illustrated) on a sheet to file.
HAIKU FOR SPRING sort and vocab 22 Seasonal words.