Sorting is an important early learning activity in science, art, math, language, and critical thinking skills. Babies and toddlers categorize objects based on their unique properties such as color and texture (two elements of art). When toddlers and babies categorize they begin developing an understanding of the physical world around them. They look for patterns (math) and they compare/contrast objects which are critical thinking skills.
It’s a really simple setup-I took craft feathers, leaves in changing colors, and pinecones and placed them in different spots of a muffin tin. I approached the activity with my two babies differently. For Adam (10.5 mos) it was his first time trying an activity like this. It was also his first time getting to touch and hold these items. He picked up, inspected, showed me items, and yes a couple did go into his mouth (I was careful to stay by him during this activity so he wouldn’t try to swallow anything). He examined the objects for about 15 minutes before trying to move them around in the muffin tray.
For Ben, who’s almost 2 1/2, I showed him the tray first (he’s had other muffin tin sorting activities before). We counted like items first in English, then Hebrew (he’s fluent in both). He told me in Hebrew “etz” meaning tree while holding a leaf and also told me all of these items were from outside, before grouping like items in the tray. He spent about 10 minutes with the tray. This would be a great way to start an art and nature project with little ones. Just keep in mind to watch them so they don’t try to eat the activity.