Interactive early childhood teaching resource: Transport Sort

  • Published on October 28, 2016

Sorting is a very important skill. We sort things every day without even thinking about it. We sort items in cutlery drawers, sort and arrange dishes in the dishwasher, even our socks and undies. While we might not physically sort them, while we are walking down the street we might sort familiar from the unfamiliar, friends from strangers, and safe from unsafe.

From a very young age, children learn to sort. They can spend a lot of time organising things that go together. By the time they arrive at school most children are able to sort objects according to their properties; such as shape, colour, texture, smell, and size. This prepares them for use of a dichotomous key in identifying natural and manufactured objects.

Sometimes we need to organise items in a table to show the intersection of two separate characteristics. This requires the ability to read and match rows and columns. This week I have added a new resource to the readilearn collection: Transport Sort.

As for most other readilearn resources, no answers are provided. The resources are designed as a lesson with the teacher. They acknowledge the value of teacher input and the importance of discussion.

Discussion not only helps build vocabulary and language proficiency,

it helps to develop understanding and thinking skills.

Look what's new

Transport sort

Transport Sort is an interactive activity suitable for use on the interactive whiteboard with the whole class or small groups. It steps children through sorting by one characteristic to sorting on a grid using two characteristics.

Each slide provides opportunities for interaction and discussion and may be used on its own as a stimulus for similar independent sorting activities using real objects or pictures, including the readilearn Transport Cards.

Successive slides may be presented when children’s progress indicates they are ready.


Yellow or Not yellow

In the first activity Yellow or Not yellow, children sort objects according to one property: yellow. They place yellow objects inside the circle and leave any objects that are not yellow outside the circle.

Possible questions to discuss while using this slide include:

What could go in the circle?

Could anything else go in the circle?

Why or why not?

Note: This slide on its own is also available as a free resource: Sorting – Yellow or Not yellow.


Ways to sort

In this open-ended activity, children suggest ways of sorting the vehicles, and sort them in as many ways as they can. The different ways of sorting can be recorded in the box.

Some possible ways of sorting include:

Things that:

  • go on land, air, or water
  • are the same colour

How many other ways can you think of?


Column sort

In Column sort children sort the objects according to the characteristic shown at the top of the column. Not all objects will be required.

Possible questions for discussion include:

What can go in this column?

Can you see anything else that goes in this column?

Could this object go in this column? Why or why not?


Sort into rows

The next activity requires children to sort the objects into rows according to the characteristic shown at the left of the row.  Discussion similar to that for completing the columns should occur, and once again, not all objects will be required.


Sort into rows and columns on a grid

When children are proficient at these ways of sorting, they can be introduced to placing items on a grid, matching properties in both rows and columns. Two different slides are provided.

Possible discussion starters include

What can go in this row?

What can go in this column?

What goes in this box (cell or space)?

Could anything else go in this box? Why or why not?

It is not necessary to complete all the slides in one lesson. The slides can be introduced one at a time as an introduction to independent or group sorting activities. While a variety of objects can, and should be used for sorting, including bottle caps and lids, the set of readilearn Transport cards complements use of this resource. When children have learned to match items on the grid, the Transport cards can be used with the Rows and Columns – Sorting grid for further practice.

Have you used

Check out the open-ended interactive resource Teddy Bear Sorting for additional sorting activities.

Teddy Bear Sorting Interactive 2

I hope you and your children enjoy using the Transport Sort suite of activities. I’ll see you next week with some suggestions for poetry writing. In the meantime, enjoy the weekend.

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Thank you

Thank you for reading.

Happy teaching and learning,



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    I think children will be able to think of many different ways of sorting. Learning to verbalize their rules for sorting is important too.

    “We sort things every day without even thinking about it.” So true. And such an important skill. I like the different ways you have kids sort the transports (instead of just color or size). Can they go on land? On water? Great activity.
    This is funny because it reminded me that one of my little ones was sorting at 6 months old. He wasn’t walking yet, but he was sorting our groceries and stacking his baby food by color. Every time we brought groceries home we knew he’d be sitting on the floor among them. 🙂 It was quite funny at the time.

    Hi Sarah. Thank you for you comment and sharing your young one’s sorting prowess. What a clever boy! He won’t be in need of this resource. 🙂

Please share your thoughts. I love it when you do.

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