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Counting and sorting skills are important building blocks for early math skills. These build an foundation for learning and skill building before pre-school.
These toys reinforce these skills and invite your child to explore sorting into categories, recognizing and creating patterns, and one to one correspondence. These build the foundations for addition, subtraction, and a general number sense that carries her successfully into pre-school and Kindergarten.
We saved our favorite sorting toy for last!
These are my picks for the best sorting and counting toys, ones we’ve tried and loved. The best toys last for years and have multiple levels of complexity that build as your child grows. We hope you enjoy these too, and find a little one on your holiday list who will love them as much as we do.
This carton of eggs is a terrific matching and sorting toy! 12 plastic eggs, when pulled apart, reveal 12 individual colors and numbers. Each egg half will only match and fit with its corresponding color.
Your child will love clicking these eggs together and pulling them apart, all while reinforcing their fine motor skills, color discrimination, and matching ability.
This egg set is great for kids at 18 months, but like almost every toy I’d recommend, it is still interesting and fun years later.
We’ve found this carton is a fun toy to bring along on a car trip because it packs up so easily.
Each of the 10 cars, when placed inside the parking garage entrance (at the top) slides all the way down to stack on top of the previous cars. Each car’s color corresponds to a number on the garage, and your child will work to get the cars in the garage stacked in numerical order. When all stacked, the cars appear in rainbow order, giving a child a way to “check” their work. (Maybe it’s just our house, but my daughter learned her rainbow order before her numbers).
When the arm at the base of the garage goes up, cars can exit the garage one at a time!
This game is a fun way to reinforce counting skills, all while helping the farmer collect all of his escaped chickens!
The game is played with a group of 2-4 people, and is best enjoyed by kids aged 3 and up. Counting and sorting are at the heart of this game!
This is a perfect game for introducing your child to the concept of board games. Your child will love using the spinner and moving the mama hen up the board. Each space she moves means she gets to put a chicken back in the hen house. (If your spinner lands on a fox, all the chickens escape again!)
What I love is that this is a cooperative game. I don’t know about you, but my toddler hated losing games and would cheat to win and then throw the game pieces on the floor, etc. So this game is played cooperatively, meaning that we ALL win when the chickens get returned to the coop.
4. Toddler Counting Stacker
This Counting Stacker has sturdy, wooden circular blocks that your young one can practice stacking on the four wooden pegs. The pegs are on springs, so they adjust a bit to help get that wooden block on the peg no matter how wobbly your toddler’s hand eye coordination is. The numbers on the stand and the colors help reinforce where to place the blocks, also reinforcing counting and sorting skills.
Your child will love matching colors, putting all the discs in the right place, and making huge stacks of the discs. But the fun really starts when she starts counting and adding numbers. Take three green discs and add them to two aqua discs. Your child will notice they make five but the colors help reinforce that there were two quantities to begin with before being added. You can then subtract two, leaving three green discs again.
These pieces are all made from natural wood, sanded smooth and painted with environmentally safe paints.
Happy Tree Store has this beautiful set of sorting sticks. Six sticks for each of six colors are included along with the sorting box. My daughter sorts these by color, stacks them, and creates flat “drawings” out of them.
To reinforce counting and sorting, the good news is that clean up involves MORE sorting, so win-win.
This is by far the most comprehensive sorter, using color, number and shape as options for sorting. Your child can play with this set for years to come, creating games and sorting in tons of different ways.
Build your sorting flower, then drop the butterflies into corresponding dishes by color. To make it even more fun, the set comes with eight number cards that you can drop in each dish to indicate how many butterflies to place there. AND (the best of all!) there are eight different butterfly shapes. Cards that correspond to those shapes can be used to sort by shape for a more complex activity.
These adorable cows are marked with numbers on the front half and spots on the rear half. Each cow is color coded, giving even more cues for your child to match the pairs. This is perfect for little hands, aged 18 months and up.
This abacus is made from natural wood and non-toxic, water based paints.
This game from Blue Wink Designs helps reinforce color matching skills with six laminated color cards and eighteen colored clothespins. Your child will practice fine motor skills along with visual discrimination skills by placing the clothespins on the correct colors. She will work on figuring out the difference between the three shades of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. AND the whole thing comes in an adorable plastic container, personalized for free!
11. Deluxe Wooden Counting and Sorting Tray
This incredible sorting and counting tray comes from Firefly Meadow Shop. With a vintage 50-hole sorting tray and 50 wooden pieces, your child can build math skills while engaging in open-ended play. She can sort the pieces into different categories, count each category of items, and arrange the pieces in a huge variety of ways on the tray. Being able to visually determine the difference between these small shapes is a huge early math skill that young toddlers can start working on at age 18 months. A small bamboo tong is included so your child can start building her fine motor skills too!
We have a tray like this that my daughter has played with since 18 months. At 5, she is still interested in it when I bring it out, and still places the items in categories and lines them up on the tray in a special arrangement that only makes sense to her.
I believe that toys like this look beautiful on a coffee table. Just saying.