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Activities for sorting by a variety of criteria  This resource has been viewed by a moderator.

Early years skill:not specified
Early years typical range:not specified
P-scales/Nat. Curriculum skill:Materials and Their Properties
P-scales/Nat. Curriculum level:L1-L5
TAP skill:Language Understanding
TAP level:TAP60
Phonology/Articulation:not specified
Section:Primary (5-11yrs) info; Secondary (11-16yrs) info
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Activity name and materials required How to do the activity Key principles for doing the activity/comments

Odd one out activities

Pictures of objects from various different categories. E.g. food, animals, transport, clothes, toys etc. 

Set out 3 pictures. Decide together which one doesn’t fit with the others.  The child can have a turn at setting out 3 for you.

Give the pupil time to think about it. Help them by giving a prompt (e.g. a forced alternative, talking about where you find each object and what you do with it.)

As well as explaining the similarity between objects, carry out activities to encourage the child to explain the difference between them e.g. postman, policeman, and fire hose, fireman. ‘The fire hose is something a fireman uses, the rest are all jobs.’

Use vocabulary from class topics to play these games as well. 


Pictures of everyday objects from class and outside.  A blank jotter book.

Have a blank section for each group of items.  Decide which group a particular item should go in.  The jotter can be added to over the term, and the child can use it as their ‘dictionary’.

Have the child take a turn at thinking of other items they could add.


Pictures, background pictures.

Have 2 or more backgrounds, to be collaged. E.g. pictures of different habitats.

Put the pictures on the right collage. 

Have the child take a turn at thinking of other items they could add.

Word Tree

Pen and paper




Write the name of a group in the middle of a page. Ask the child to think of as many different items from that group as possible. Prompt if necessary.

Possible topics:

  • Boy’s names
  • Girl’s names
  • Anything to do with football
  • Colours
  • Food
  • Hot food
  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Animals
  • Toys
  • Things we do at school
  • Football teams
  • Players for a certain football team
  • Zoo animals
  • Farm animals
  • Things that need batteries
  • Flowers
  • Places to go on holiday
  • Pizza toppings
  • Things to have in a sandwich
  • Things in a kitchen/ bathroom/bedroom etc.

Count up the number of suggestions the child has made. Next time you do the activity, the child can try to beat their score.



Mixed up categories

Pictures of items from 2 or more categories


Have pictures of lots of items from 2 categories, e.g. farm animals and zoo animals. Mix them up and ask the child to sort them back into 2 groups. If this is easy, try mixing 3 categories together, or try making the categories more similar.



Beat the Clock


Pen and paper

Have the child brainstorm and think of as many words as they can within a specific category (e.g. fruit, vegetables, animals, sports, celebrities, etc.) in a minute. 

If in a group have competitions among the students to see who can generate the most number of words in a category.

How many can you think of?

Pen and paper

Choose one letter of the alphabet and think of words within each category. 

For example:


  • country: China           
  • food: chips
  • animals: cat


  • country: Morocco
  • food: mango
  • animals: monkey


  • country: Spain
  • food: spinach 
  • animals: snake


Alphabet Game

Pen and paper

Choose one category and then think of a word starting with each letter of the alphabet:

For example:


  • a: apple                      
  • b: biscuit
  • c: carrot
  • d : doughnut

Round things  

  • a: apple
  • b: ball                          
  • c: circle
  • d: doughnut 


What’s the link?

Picture Cards

Name 3 items or show 3 pictures and see if the other person can guess which category / group they belong to. Ask the student to explain why the objects are similar. 

For example:  

  • washing machine, computer, lamp = all electrical
  • lion, dog, fox = all animals


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