How to introduce toddlers to sorting and graphing using their toys.
Toddlers can do math. They can – I promise they can – I’m not leading you astray. Can they do complex algebra or trig? Probably not right now, but there are many math skills that toddlers can master.
One of my favorite toddler math activities is sorting and graphing data. It’s a snap to set up, it has so much learning involved, and toddlers can be hugely successful at it.
Here’s how I introduced my toddler son (age 2.5 years) to sorting and graphing.
My first step was to decide what we would be sorting and graphing. Today, we decided to work with his toy cars. I strategically picked four sets of cars in varying amounts for us to sort then graph.
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- Cars and truck toys
- Painter’s Tape
I laid out a large graph on the floor using painter’s tape. I made sure to make four columns for our graph. My toddler was super helpful laying out the tape (so much sarcasm – I love him).
Before we could graph our data set (data set being a fancy math words for cars). We sorted vans, race cars, construction equipment, and fire trucks. Then, together we laid the cars into the tape graph we had created. I made sure to space out the cars so it was clear which column had more and which had less.
Once we had finished sorting and graphing our little set, we sat together and talked about it. Who doesn’t love a little toddler learner cuddled up in their lap?
Here are some questions I asked him:
- Which car do we have the most of?
- Which car do we have the littlest of? (I want to say “least” but he doesn’t understand that word yet)
- Let’s count how many diggers we have.
- Do I have more race cars or fire trucks? (comparative questions are awesome for critical thinking)
Together we talked about our graph and he learned so much in the process. It’s an easy toddler activity full of really important math skills. It may not be an independent toddler activity (those are my favorites), but it’s a great activity if you are looking for some high quality toddler learning.
Need some more toddler math ideas? Take a look at my posts on introducing patterns, using playing cards, and playing the math game “What’s Missing?”
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