Learning to Sort - Same and Different

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Students will be able to compare objects.

Big Idea

Sorting is an important foundational skill for kindergarten students to develop. Comparing objects that are alike and different gets students ready to compare objects with measurable attributes.

Problem of the Day

5 minutes

Starting each lesson with a problem of the day helps students review skills and concepts from prior lessons and develop their ability to problem solve.  For the beginning of the year, we do the problem of the day as a whole group.  I call the students up to the carpet.  On the first two days of school, I let the students sit wherever they want on the carpet.  On the third day, I give them assigned seats.  The students find their spots and I make sure they are sitting correctly by having them say this chant with me.

Criss cross, applesauce, hands in your lap, eyes on the teacher, you've got to show me that.

I then call three students with braids in their hair up to the front of the room.  I ask, "What is the same about all of these friends?"  They all have braids in their hair.  I then call up three students who do not have braids in their hair.  I ask, "How is this group different from the first one?"  This group does not have braids in their hair.  I then have all of the students sit back down.

I tell students, "Today we will be comparing objects to find ones that are the same and ones that are different."  

Presentation of Lesson

25 minutes

I have students move into a circle.  I remind them that their bottoms need to be on the wood floor so that there is room for everyone.  I put two plastic sorting circles into the middle of the circle.  I have students practice sorting buttons into the two circles.  The students put the buttons that are the same (I chose a yellow circle to be our "same" object) in one of the circles and buttons that are different in the other circle.  If you do not have sorting circles, you could also use yarn to make two large circles on the floor.  I make sure to ask students to describe how the buttons are the same and different.  I encourage the use of words that describe length, weight, size and/or color because standards K.MD.1 and K.MD.2 require kindergarteners to do so.

Once all students have had a turn.  I review what we did.  "We just sorted these buttons into two groups.  We put all the buttons that are the same in this group and all the buttons that are different into this group."

I then tell students that we will be practicing this on a Same and Different worksheet.  I think that students learn better by sorting with manipulatives, but taking the time to do a short worksheet each day helps the students learn basic paper and pencil skills such as circling and crossing out.  It also helps students get ready for the paper and pencil assessment that they will take at the end of the unit.

I show students the paper and say, "We will be doing this paper together.  When you get to your seats, you need to get out your pencil and put your name on your paper.  When your name is on your paper hold your pencil in the air, that will let me know that you are ready to start."  I like to have students hold up their pencils or put their hands on their heads when they are finished with a task.  It makes it easy for me to see who is ready and also keeps the students from writing all over their papers while they wait for other students to finish.  Prior to the lesson, I use a highlighter to write student names on papers for students who are unable to write their name.

I hand each student a paper and they walk back to their seats.  While the students are writing their names, I turn on the projector and document camera and display the worksheet on the SMARTBoard.  When all students have their pencils up, I say, "The directions on this paper say to circle the pictures that are the same and put an X on the picture that is different."  I then tell students to touch their pencil to number 1.  I model what to do on my paper.  I say, "Let's look at number 1.  Who can come up and point to the pictures that are the same?"  I call on a student who is sitting and raising their hand quietly.  I hand the student a pointer to use to point to the pictures.  I ask, "Which pictures are the same?"  (The horses.) "Yes, the horses are the same.  How are the horses the same?"  (They are all horses and they are all brown and white.)  "Yes, we need to circle all of the horses."  I model how to circle all of the horses and invite the students to do the same on their papers.  "What about this duck?  What should I do to him?  We need to put an X on the duck because he is different.  How is the duck different?"  (He is a different animal and he is not brown and white.)  I continue with the other questions on the paper.  When the students are finished, I have them put their pencils away and their heads down while I collect their papers.     


15 minutes

I tell students, "Now you will have a chance to do some sorting of your own."  I show students plastic trays filled with sorting objects, and say, "We are going to sort some objects today. Remember you need to group the objects that are alike."  For this lesson, I use some kid counters and some animal counters.  I review the rules for group work.  I have students model following and not following each rule.

Share the materials in the tray.

Materials are to be pulled out as needed. (The tray does not need to be dumped out.) 

Talk in quiet voices. 

I remind students that when the clean up song comes on, they need to put all of their materials back into the tray and put their heads down.  I have students return to their seats and give each table a tray of objects.  I circulate throughout the room to ensure that students are sorting.  I use the remaining time to pull students to complete our beginning of the year baseline assessment.  To clean up, I turn on the clean up song.  I use Dr. Jean’s Tidy Up.  

There are many wonderful transition songs to be found, for free, online if you'd like to use music for transitions too.


5 minutes

I close this lesson by inviting students back up to the carpet.  I turn on the projector and document camera and let several students share their work on the screen.  The students like getting to "Be the teacher" and other students like seeing their classmates' work being projected on the SMART Board.  I mention positive things that I noticed during the practice time such as, "I noticed how you shared the objects at your table."  

I also include something that needs to be better next time such as, "Tomorrow we need to remember to pick up out things if they fall on the floor."  I review what we did during our whole group lesson.  "Today we talked about the words alike and different.  We sorted objects that were alike and different.  Tomorrow, we are going to look at some other ways to sort."