Children look for ways to organize and make sense of their world through play at school and home, as well as at clean-up time. Sorting items into groups by specific attributes gives children the opportunity to define sets according to a rule of what does and does not belong together. Sometimes objects will change classification from day to day. A ball one day may be in the set of things that roll while the next day it might be in the set of toys that goes outside. When cleaning up, children can think about which collection has the most and which has the fewest items. This information becomes useful when choosing how to organize the cleanup and builds the foundation for reasoning about number, shape, and space.
To encourage and develop children’s thinking about sets and sorting, here are five books that are common to preschool and kindergarten classrooms. You can encourage a home-to-school connection by using math books for kids that you possibly already have in your library. Create a check out system for these books and insert these easily downloadable activity cards written in both English and Spanish for families to enjoy together.
Using the books and activity cards both at school and at home will create multiple opportunities for children to engage in the Big Ideas of sets and sorting.
Exactly the Opposite by Tana Hoban
This photo book contains conversation-inspiring pictures showing two items that are different from each other in some way. Opportunities to observe, compare, and discuss are abundant.
A Pair of Socks by Stuart J. Murphy
The descriptive language in this book is used to highlight numerous qualities a sock could have. It is a great way to launch activities to develop children’s matching ability and their recognition of different attributes. Explore other ideas involving this book with Matching and Concepts of Same and Different… with Socks!
Opuestos/Opposites by Cynthia Weill
This Spanish and English book is a springboard for creating sets by using the vocabulary highlighted in the book. The book’s photographs of unique figurines made in Oaxaca, Mexico give the math a rich cultural context and will spark curiosity and wonder.
Five Creatures by Emily Jenkins
This book has two cats and three humans in one home. As the story develops, we see how the creatures are alike in some ways and how they are different. Each turn of the page shows us new groupings as they highlight what makes the creatures in this family who they are. Dive deeper by reading about our People Sort activity idea that stems from the book.
Is it Red? Is it Yellow? Is it Blue? by Tana Hoban
A wordless book with photographs, this book inspires conversation and questions about color as an attribute. It also inspires discussion about what is happening on each page.
Home Activity Cards: Sets and Sorting
Educators and parents can download a set of activity cards (available in English and Spanish) to go along with these books. A great way to support family math opportunities!