Sorting Circles

by Early Math Counts

Remember when you were in middle school or high school and your teacher asked you to create a Venn Diagram to sort out attributes that were either shared or not shared?  You drew two large overlapping circles on a piece of paper like this…

Venn Diagram


You then sorted the attributes into 3 categories; shared attributes, attributes of the first idea/item, and attributes if the second idea/item.

The list might have looked something like this.

The House of Representatives

 There are 435 Members

Members are elected for 4 year terms

Shared Attributes

 The are both elected

They are both from each state

The Senate

 There are 50 Members

Members are elected for 6 year terms

You then transferred that information into your Venn Diagram to create a graphic organizer of your ideas.

These sorting circles work in exactly the same way except that young children are sorting attributes that are easy to see and describe.  These allow children to consider one aspect of a concept or item at a time, which is age-appropriate but will be challenging when they attempt to consider the shared attributes.

Sorting CirclesYou can see how children put all of the blue items in one circle and all of the yellow items in the other.  In the shared portion, they have put all of the triangles.  Many will argue that the blue triangles should go with the blue items, and the yellow triangles should go with the yellow items.  This is the challenge.  I wouldn’t expect children under 5 to be able to complete this task completely on their own but experience and opportunity will help support them as they explore the idea of “shared attributes”.


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