I show a bin of math manipulatives to the students, with a variety of objects tossed in. (I use big objects so it won't take long to sort them into proper bins.)
I ask, "Remember when we had inside recess the other day because of the rain? Well, you didn't do this, but if you did, how do you think your teacher would feel to see this?" (I gesture to the bin of various unsorted items.)
Students raise hands to say, "Bad!" or "You would be sad!" (or other similar comments).
"Why? What would cause such sadness in your teacher? You cleaned up your toys..."
"They're all mixed up!" students respond.
"How can we fix it?" I ask.
"Let's put them where they go!" students suggest. I designate students to return items to their specified bins. (I ask students with lots of energy to help. This way, they can move in a productive way. Conversely, I ask the sleepy little kiddos who are missing their afternoon naps to help as well, so they will get a little more energy as they move around to help.)
I ask, "Why is sorting important?"
Students share responses similar to "It helps us keep track of things," or "It helps us know where things go."
I state, "You just sorted the math tools by kind or type. Thank you! Today, we will practice sorting by color."
[If you did the "Same Game" activity the other day, you can draw on this activity directly, which is always helpful. I say, "Remember when we played the 'Same Game' yesterday and [student name] picked a blue bear and a blue train? Why did we say those different things were the same?"
Students respond, "They were the same color!" or "They were both BLUE!"]
I continue, "Today, we are going to use a sorting mat to sort by color."
Using a document camera, I show the students a 2-item Sorting Mat and a sandwich baggie with approximately 6 tiles or squares of 1 color, and 7 or 8 tiles or squares of a second color.
I ask students, one at a time, to sort the tiles into groups. (Each student moves 1 tile at a time to a side with similar tiles.)
After all tiles are sorted, I ask, "Are we done?"
Some students, seeing the empty baggie, respond, "Yes!"
"How will you be able to show your family our sorting?" I ask. I explain that I really want them to share their great learning with their family, so I tell them I have something for them.
I show a container with paper squares in the same colors as the color tiles. Then I explain that they can GLUE their paper squares on their mat to show their family how they sorted. (I hear a couple kids "Ooo" and "Ahh..." It's one of the best things about kindergarten!)
I explain very clearly that they can only glue paper squares to represent the tiles they have in their bags. They cannot glue their favorite colors or try to fill their sorting mat with squares. "We are being precise as we show the exact tiles we have with squares the same color," I stress. "What's that word?" I the kiddos. "Precise!" kids respond. To get more kids to practice, I ask again, and sure enough, more kiddos exclaim, "Precise!"
I model sliding a tile off the mat and replacing it with a paper square. We quickly discuss the rule for gluing: "Always put the glue on the back of the littlest thing." Then the kiddos recite while I demonstrate, "Just a dot-not a lot! A little dab of glue will do!" (I think we say this 100 times over the course of a year in K!)
Students are sent to their tables to practice, but I watch carefully and stay in motion. When half or most of the class is ready to begin gluing paper squares, I have the entire class slide a tile off and glue a square in its place--with myself modeling on the document camera. (Even students who are working more slowly or have some confusion have at least 1 square to glue by this point.) We do this so the momentum of "doing" the activity doesn't interfere with recalling the actual procedure to glue squares. This helps us document our squares and avoid falling into a square-gluing frenzy.
We repeat this process once more, and then students are directed to move ahead and glue papers to show their tiles. At this point, I circulate around the room and provide support to struggling students.
While some students may struggle with this activity. there will be some students who have experience sorting and will need an extension.
I get a container of attribute blocks in assorted colors and challenge students to find objects to set on their sorting mats. (Most students who have successfully completed their color tiles sort can effectively add similarly colored objects to their mats.)
As students finish, I have them explain to another student how they sorted on their mats. (This promotes explanation of learning and communication, while it gives me a moment to work with students who need more support.)
Kindergartners love to share their work. I invite students to go up to the document camera to share their sorts. I ask about the colors they had on each side, (which may be review for some students and practice for others). For students who did the extension, I slide a small white board under their papers so they can carry them to the document camera. It can be helpful to stress the lesson objective, asking, “Did [student name] sort their colors into groups?”, to which students respond, “Yes!” The energy remains high, the students get to see sample after sample of 2-color sorts, and they feel the pride of displaying their work. Even shy kiddos eventually make their way to the document camera, so this activity seems to extend beyond math to a community-building activity!