Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Parent's Guide to Beginning Sorting Skills For Special Needs

Once your child has mastered putting things in and out, they will be ready to start working on sorting.  Sorting is an important skill for a toddler to achieve.  Many skills are built on sorting so it must be mastered before moving on to more complex activities.

Children with special needs should be introduced to sorting around 18 to 24 months.  When you first begin use two items that are distinctly different.  Some ideas for sorting:

frogs and cars
chips and bears
cherrios and chocolate chips

You will also need two bowls or mats to do your sorts.  When we first started I allowed Adeline to just explore the items.  She was curious and wanted to look at all the pieces first.  Once our exploring was over I modeled what we were going to do:

"chip in bowl"
"car in bowl"

I recommend not starting with to many items.  A total of six pieces is a good number.

If Adeline was still interested I would do hand over hand and do the sorting with her again saying:

"chip in bowl"
"car in bowl"

If she was not interested put the game away.  You can bring it back out later in the day or the next day.  You may need to model again before moving onto hand over hand.

After practicing hand over hand for a few days start handing the object to your child and tell him or her "put the car in", "put the chip in".  Point to the correct bowl to give a visual cue if needed.  If they struggle continue with hand over hand until skill is mastered.

Daily repetition with the same items is important until the skill is mastered.  When the child has mastered those two items, move on to two new items,  eventually growing to three and four items.  


  1. This is very helpful...Will be doing this in the future..Amalia is 23 months but still does not put or take out objects from a bucket...but when she does i will introduce this to her.

  2. Thanks for sharing this. I love your blog! I have nominated you for the Liebster award. You can read about it here.http://mommaof4cutiez.blogspot.com/2012/07/liebster-award.html Many blessings!! :)

  3. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your blog.

    Your blog is so helpful.

    My son (two and a half years old, with Down Syndrome) is very bright and puts items in and out of a bowl easily. Now that you have written this beautiful post, I have an idea how to help him with his sorting skills. I literally had no idea where to begin!

    Thank you soooo much. Your blog is an absolute blessing to me.

    God bless!

  4. Just found this blog yesturday. Yipeee! I love it. My son turned 3 this month. He is such a "boy". Very active. I have been inspired greatly. The ideas and creativity here is excellent. Im so encouraged.

  5. Yeah I am so happy you found us. Thanks so much for stopping at We Can Do All Things.


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