Ice Cube Trays as a Sorting Tool

by Early Math Counts

Many years ago I went to visit one of my students at her center and it was one of those days when everything I saw seemed new and exciting.  Sometimes, when you have been in the business of child care and education for as long as I have, you begin to think you have “seen it all.”

Clearly, even if you feel that way, it is never true.  We are so lucky to be in a profession where there is “newness” in every corner.  The materials change, the environments grow, and the children’s approach to learning is forever novel and exciting.

On that particular day, my student had set out ice cube trays as a means of sorting materials.  She added another twist – tongs and big tweezers – so that children sorted using these tools.  She had put out materials such as cotton balls (easy to squeeze and pick up) as well as bouncy balls (really hard to squeeze and pick up).  The activity had so many dimensions and challenges that the children were mesmerized by the task. They thought it was fun and funny that the balls kept popping out of the tongs and tweezers, so they did not become frustrated or bored.  It was a lovely to watch.

A simple sorting activity can be made more interesting and multidimensional by adding a novel tool or dimension.  Go ahead and try it!

4 Replies to “Ice Cube Trays as a Sorting Tool”

  1. Using varied textures, sizes, and other multidimensional material, helps to spur on more exploration of a mathematical concept.

  2. Ice cube trays are such a great addition to an ECE classroom. There are plenty of different ways to use them, and children seem to love moving items around in them.

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