Developing the Ability to Classify

The goal is for the child to be able to answer the question: “How are these the same?”  at an abstract level. For instance, a horse and pig both have 4 legs ( a concrete similarity) but they are both animals (the more abstract similarity)


  • Ask the child how two items are the same, and begin by accepting concrete similarities. Then move toward developing the more abstract response. As child becomes more successful, begin asking how two more abstract items are the same, such as a carpenter and an electrician. Eventually, for older students, the goal will be for the child to be able to classify really abstract concepts such as forms of government, etc.
  • Sort blocks by attribute, beginning with only one attribute – good task for younger children, preschoolers
  • Create a scrapbook with pages for different categories and have child cut out pictures and paste in the appropriate category (vehicles, furniture, flowers, animals, etc). also good for younger children.
  • Group pictures of objects which have similar use (saw – scissors; vacuum-broom)
  • Complete verbal analogies (babies are little and daddies are ____) etc. These can become increasingly challenging and abstract.
  • Interpret the concept of likeness by using matching and sorting, exercises (e.g., red beads, white buttons, etc.). good starting point for young children
  • Sort geometric shapes and objects according to color, size, and shape. (Expand this activity to include differences within like groups, such as different shapes within like color groups.)
  • Distinguish between categorization of groups into broad classifications using picture cards (e.g., pets, toys, food, furniture, etc.).
  • Complete puzzles and games involving sets and classification.