Many months ago, we looked at bear family counters as a basic manipulative for an early childhood program. Today, I wanted to look at animal family counters as a manipulative that supports children as they explore attributes.
Sorting items using one attribute as the key to groupings can be quite challenging for young children, but it can also be fun and exhilarating as well.
Take the counters above. You could ask children to sort the animals by color (an attribute), by size (an attribute), by number of legs (an attribute) or by land or water (also attributes). Remember, try to avoid asking children to think about more than one attribute at a time (color and size, for instance).
A good set will include lots of animals, sizes, colors, and other qualities. You may even be able to differentiate between the “grown-up” animals and the “baby” animals. That would be a great attribute to sort by.
You could also use the Sorting Circles to organize the animals by attributes. Let us know how you use this manipulative in your program.