How To Teach Sorting In Montessori

On a typical day of play and fun, you might notice your child sorting their toys and blocks in a specific pattern. 

The quality of sorting is a characteristic that often develops in children naturally without even being taught.

The quality of sorting is an integral preliminary skill that promotes children to develop an understanding of upcoming mathematical concepts. 

However, this fundamental prerequisite skill is often overlooked and disregarded by traditional educational institutions. 

The Montessori Method of education is a century-old pedagogical tool that takes the needs and requirements of developing minds into account. 

Children in Montessori schools are provided with specifically designed Montessori materials and a prepared environment that cater to their developmental needs. 

Storing in Montessori is taught to children during the elementary stages with the help of Montessori activities

Sorting activities in Montessori are a fun way of encouraging children to indulge in auto-didactic hands-on learning.

What are sorting activities in Montessori?

Children have the natural desire to make sense of their surroundings and the skill of sorting comes naturally to them in order to gain insight or control over their surroundings. 

The Montessori Method of education takes a more hands-on approach and provides children with sensorial materials and activities that allow children to discriminate between different shapes and sizes. 

Sensorial Work in accordance with the Montessori Method promotes children to engage all their senses and refine their skills one at a time.

Sorting activities also referred to as grouping activities are tasks that allow children to classify based on commonalities such as shapes, colors, or textures. 

These activities are facilitated by specifically designed Montessori Materials to help children develop preliminary skills and understanding of mathematical concepts. 

Children when participating in sorting and classifying activities children are able to engage in all their senses and develop an understanding of objects around them. 

When are Sorting Activities introduced in Montessori?

The Montessori Method of education recognizes the needs and requirements of sensitive periods and provides them with age-appropriate tools to set them up for success. 

During the first plane of development, the child passes through several changes and begins to develop important fine motor and gross motor skills

By keeping the requirements of sensitivity in mind, sorting and grouping activities in Montessori Schools are ideally introduced to the child between the ages of 18 to 21 months. 

Between 18 to 21 months the child begins to actively manipulate materials and deliberately discriminate between them.

Why are sorting Activities in Montessori important?

Activities involving sorting, grouping, sequencing, matching, pairing, and classification help children develop an understanding of cause and effect relationships that are requisite for cognitive development in children during the first plane of development

Sorting activities allow children to develop requisite skills for problem-solving and critical thinking. 

While most adults disregard the importance of classification and sorting activities, these tasks are integral for developing an understanding of number learning or counting. 

Consider sorting activities to be the beginning of mathematical learning where children are able to discriminate between different categories of materials. 

Learning about sorting and sequencing from a young age can help children develop an understanding of abstract numerical concepts. 

Sorting Activities in Montessori promote children to develop visual memory, muscle memory, and hand-eye coordination. 

Children are also able to identify different patterns, sizes, relationships, differences, and similarities between different objects. 

The categories incorporated in Montessori Sorting Activities are divided on the basis of sense. 

With the help of sorting activities and Montessori Sorting Materials, children are also able to improve their fine motor skills. 

Sorting activities not only help children categorize different objects but also stimulate tactile, thermic, auditory, gustatory, visual, and stereogenic senses.

Prerequisite skills for Montessori Sorting Activities:

Like the development of any other skill, it is important to understand the developmental sequence for sorting activities in children. 

Below is the development sequence and pre-requisite skills of Montessori Sorting activities:


As a prerequisite children need the skill of identifying particular attributes of the objects.

Along with the skills of identification, children should also develop an appropriate vocabulary to communicate their thoughts.

As the first step to sorting objects children should be highly observant of details, similarities, and differences between them. 


After successfully identifying the similarities and differences between the objects, the child is now ready to match the objects with commonalities. 

During this process, the child must express what attribute the objects have in common. 

The skill of matching allows children to develop problem-solving skills and reasoning skills. 


Following up the process of matching the child is now ready to sort and categorize the objects.

Sorting objects and items requires complex skills and attributes that allow children to make a variety of decisions. 


The comparing process takes the skill of determining whether or not the objects have more or fewer attributes. 

During this process, the child needs to develop an appropriate vocabulary for comparative description. 

The child also develops the capability to change the description of the objects based on what objects they are compared with. 

Categorizing and arranging:

After efficiently sorting the objects the child is ready to sort the items into systematic categories. 

Categorizing involves arranging the items ranging from increasing in terms of attributes to decreasing in the number of attributes. 

How to Introduce Montessori Sorting Activities to the child:

In order to introduce Montessori Sorting Activities to the child, you should begin with at least two different types of objects for comparison. 

It is important to note that a younger child should be provided with fewer categories while an older child can work with three or more types of objects to differentiate. 

For parents, it is important to note that these sorting activities are a gradual process that requires the collaboration of multiple skills, reasoning, as well as trial and error. 

Hence, it is best to provide the child with ample opportunities to learn and work at their own pace. 

In Montessori, each Montessori Material and Montessori Activity has in-built control of error that promotes them to identify and rectify their mistakes without any adult intervention. 

Although children are promoted to learn at their own pace, the adult can intervene when necessary. 

To amp up the difficulty when the child gets the hang of these sorting activities, you can incorporate a blindfold to stimulate the tactile sense and develop the stereogenic sense

The adult can also incorporate materials and objects that have a pincer grip to develop the child’s fine motor skills.

Exciting Montessori Sorting Activity Ideas:

Sorting objects help develop an understanding of cause and effect relationships that are requisite for cognitive development in children during the first plane of development.

To facilitate Montessori sorting activities you can incorporate real-life objects such as animal figurines or food items. 

Here is a list of the best Montessori Sorting Activities to help your child develop requisite skills for future prospects:

Color Baskets:

This sorting activity is great for children during the first plane of development. It is as simple as sorting the same colored objects into baskets. 

Button Sorting:

The button-sorting Montessori activity is a fun way to develop fine motor skills and categorizing skills simultaneously. 

Buttons come in a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes that promote the child to indulge in intense sorting sessions. 

A more complex activity, the button sorting activity is a versatile activity that allows the child to categorize objects for a variety of attributes. 

Sorting color paint chips:

Colored paint chips are an exciting way of promoting the child to differentiate between different tones, houses, and shades of colors. 

Use paint chips lying around the house along with different colored papers to promote your child to sort different colors. 

To make things more complex you can also instruct the child to sort the colors from dark to light. 

The Sorting Bowls:

You can use two different colored sorting bowls to help the child differentiate between colors. 

This Montessori Sorting material comes with blue and red bowls and their corresponding colored chips for the child to sort. 

Sorting Fuzzy Animals:

What better way to promote children to indulge in hands-on education than by incorporating cute fuzzy animals? 

It is as simple as paper bags fashioning animal images and fuzzy animal figures to promote your child to perform sorting activities. 

Sorting Fabrics:

The tactile sense is the capability to distinguish between different textures, shapes, temperatures, and sizes just by touching. 

Sorting different textures of fabrics can be a great way of developing and enhancing the tactile sense in children. 

Provide your child with pairs of different textured fabrics to help them compare, sort, and categorize.  

Sorting objects by weight:

This activity enhances the child’s basic sense and allows them to differentiate between different weights. 

You can use pairs of different objects with varying weights or Montessori Baric Tablets to help facilitate this activity. 

Sorting different temperatures:

Thermic sense is the ability to determine different temperatures with the help of the sense of touch. 

You can use thermic bottles and thermic tablets to facilitate this Montessori Sorting activity.

Should you incorporate Montessori Sorting Activities?

Sorting and sequencing materials or objects is a child’s way to make sense of the world that surrounds them.

While most skills in children are developed through rigorous practice, sorting, sequencing, and stacking often come naturally in children.

Dr. Maria Montessori incorporated sorting activities into the curriculum to help promote sensory development in children and allow them to engage all their senses.

Not only do these sorting activities allow children to develop requisite skills for problem-solving and critical thinking. 

Montessori Sorting Activities are the best way to prepare children for upcoming mathematical concepts and facilitate the development of fine motor skills.

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