Same and Different Sorting Activities

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Sorting is one of the first units covered in many early childhood classrooms.  It is an essential skill for little ones to understand before many other math skills are developed.  Little learners need to know what makes objects the same and different in order to understand the concept of sorting.

Same and Different

This may seem like basic knowledge, however, there are many children that learn this skill through everyday activities. When your students learn the vocabulary and concept of looking for attributes, they understand the goal of the lesson.


When you start every math concept with a storytelling lesson, you help learners understand how a particular concept can be used in everyday life. Covering a math standard in a relevant and engaging way? Yes, please!

For this storytelling activity, we sort socks.  Yep, socks!  It is easy to get this story going because it is a real issue in our house.  Bring in a pile of socks and tell you learners that the socks are missing their match!  Have your learners work with you to find out how to match socks, as well as how to look for similarities and differences.

Math Read Aloud

After the storytelling lesson, it is time to get learners engaged with a book.  A Pair of Socks is the perfect book for this lesson.  Read the book and review the words ‘same’ and ‘different’.  This is also a great time to introduce the vocabulary cards and post them on the math word wall.

Pencil Pairs

Now it is time to get the learners engaged with a fun activity in order to practice this skill.  In the game, ‘Pencil Pairs’, each learner is given a pencil.  Next, they walk around the room to find the pencil that matches theirs.  To extend the activity, they find a pencil that has only one thing that is the same.

Math Notebook

A Math Notebook is a great way to reduce the amount of papers used in your classroom. It also allows learners to review these concepts throughout the year.

Learners CREATE their own pencils that are the same and different with this interactive math notebook page.  Simply color and glue to the math notebook.

Visual Discrimination Math Center

Learners continue to practice this skill in their math center by matching the pictures cards.  With the help of a pocket chart, as a game of concentration or just matching on a table.  Learners can complete the printable as an assessment or turn it in after math stations.

Find the Difference Math Center

One way for learners to practice finding the difference is with this simple, yet engaging center. Have learners place a manipulative on the picture that is different…super simple!  Your learners can complete a printable activity as well!

If you are planning a sorting unit for your classroom, be sure to check out my Sorting By Attributes unit and grab all of the resources in this post. Find more information for other sorting lessons in my Sorting Series and grab the FREEBIE included.

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progress monitoring in the early elementary classroom for math, literacy and reading