Maths Without Limits
Opening Young Minds to Endless Possibilities

5.1.3 How many ways can I sort, match and order things?

The next most important mathematical skills after counting are sorting, matching and ordering – grouping things together that are similar and arranging things in order of size. The activities in this section explore these ideas.  You will need various collections of objects such as cutlery, socks, shells & pebbles, coloured counters etc. Again, the emphasis should be as much on speaking the correct language as on doing the task.


Skill: Choose how to sort a range of objects and explain how you have sorted them.

Suggested language: What do you see? Can you sort them?  How did you do it?


Skill: Sort a range of objects by given criteria (size, shape, colour etc).

Suggested language: Can we sort these by colour?  Can we sort them by size?  Can we do it a different way? Can we sort them by shape?  Is that possible?


Skill: Match similar objects (eg) from the beach/garden/woods.

Suggested language: What sets of things can we find? How can we sort them? Can we match things that are similar?


Skill: Match sets of objects (eg socks) and make decisions about what belongs or does not belong to a set.

Suggested language: Can we find all the matching pairs? Are there any odd ones?


Skills: Arrange objects in order according to length, thickness or height. Use a variety of objects to help compare length and height. Use the language of measure to describe what we have found out – long, short, tall, wide, narrow, thick and thin.

Suggested language: Which is the longest?  Which is the shortest?  Can we arrange them in order of size from longest to shortest? Can we arrange them in a different order? What would happen if we put the thickest ones first and the thinnest ones last? Etc



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