Sorting by Color

Use a School Readiness Activity to provide early mathematical thinking experiences for preschool children that will prepare them to do well in the early grades.
Updated on: October 15, 2004

Sorting by Color


  • To sort objects by color

Materials to sort by color such as different color pattern blocks, beads, construction paper, or plastic circles, squares, and triangles; sorting containers such as paper plates, colored and labeled; books about colors

sorting     groups
red orange
yellow green
blue purple
brown black
alike different

Literature Suggestion
Read Golden Bear by Ruth Young and/or Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present by Charlotte Zolotow, or other books that lend themselves to a discussion of colors.

Look at the pages of books such as Golden Bear or Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present again, and ask children to name the colors they see in the illustrations.


  • For each group of children, provide a variety of items to sort by color. Provide a paper plate for each color.
  • Model sorting the colors using a think-aloud approach, talking out loud as you work. Example: "Here's a red square--that goes on the red plate. Red things are alike so they go together. Here's a blue bead. That goes with the other blue things. Blues are different from reds." Ask children to tell you how the objects on the plates are different. (Objects on the red plate are red; objects on the blue plate are blue.)
  • Have children work together and talk about their sorting. Reinforce the language of sorting by discussing how the objects on each plate are alike and how those on each plate are different from those on the other plates.
  • Teacher Tip: Check for color-blindness in children who have great difficulty sorting by color.
Provide a collection of one-color and two-color paper geometric shapes or animal shapes. Ask students to sort shapes into one-color and two-color groups.

Observation Assessment

  • Proficient - Child can easily sort by color.
  • In Process - Child gets confused occasionally, but can generally sort by color.
  • Not Yet Ready - Child does not yet sort by color.

Excerpted from

School Readiness Activity Cards
School Readiness Activity Cards
Pearson Early Childhood
Excerpted from School Readiness Activity Cards. The Preschool Activity Cards provide engaging and purposeful experiences that develop language, literacy, and math skills for preschool children.

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