Sort-A-Shape Activity Board

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The Sort-A-Shape Activity Board (Lakeshore Learning) will help children identify shapes and colors. Depending on the child’s age, developmental level, and/or grade, the child can learn the following concepts:

  • identify some shapes (circle, square, triangle, rectangle)
  • identify some colors (red, blue, yellow, green)
  • sort according to shapes
  • sort according to colors

Materials

The Sort-A-Shape Activity Board contains 17 wooden pieces (1 board and 16 shapes: 4 circles, 4 squares, 4 triangles, 4 rectangles). Each shape is represented in one of four colors (red, blue, yellow, green).


My experience using the Sort-A-Shape Activity Board

In my practice as a special educator and SEIT, I have used the Sort-A-Shape Activity Board in a variety of ways. I have worked with children that are unable to identify colors and/or shapes. I have also worked with 3-year-olds that are able to identify all colors as well as shapes.


Additional Activities

Ask simple WH questions – This is a great activity I have tried when working in small groups of 2-4 children. Each child has a shape and I ask one of the following questions:

  • “What shape is this?”
  • “Who has the circle/square/triangle/rectangle?” The child may respond “me” or “I do.” Also, one child can identify the peer (by name or by saying “he/she”) that has the circle/square/triangle/rectangle.
  • “Where is the circle/square/triangle/rectangle?”

Children working on colors and shapes simultaneously can respond to a question involving two attributes:

“Where is the yellow triangle?”

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“One” and “All” – Encourage child to follow simple commands:

“Put ‘one’ circle on the board.”

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“Put ‘all’ the triangles on the board.”

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Sorting – Encourage child to sort pieces according to SHAPES and/or COLORS:

Sorting according to shapes: “Put all the SQUARES on the board.”

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Sorting according to color: “Put the BLUE shapes on the board.”

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Most children also demonstrated improvement in other areas, including but not limited to:

  • not calling out
  • identifying peer names
  • responding when name is called
  • waiting turn
  • taking turns
  • sharing
  • isolating index finger to point
  • joint attention
  • improved attention span
  • hand-eye coordination

Suggestions

  • Teaching multiple concepts at once is not a good idea. Teach COLORS and SHAPES separately. The Sort-A-Shape Activity Board should be used primarily to teach shapes. When learning colors and shapes at the same time, children usually name a color when asked to label a shape and a shape when asked to label a color. This can cause confusion.
  • Sorting by two attributes should be introduced after child is able to identify all COLORS and SHAPES.
  • Consider “field of ___” questions:

Field of two – one (1) of two (2) pieces is correct:

“Where is the circle?”

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Field of three – one (1) of three (3) pieces is correct:

“Where is the square?”

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Field of four – one (1) of four (4) pieces is correct:

“Where is the triangle?”

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Summary

The Sort-A-Shape Activity Board is a wooden board with 16 colorful wooden shapes. Children will be able to:

  • identify some shapes (circle, square, triangle, rectangle)
  • identify some colors (red, blue, yellow, green)
  • sort according to shapes
  • sort according to colors

Additional Information

Where to buy

Hands-On Number Grid

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The Hands-On Number Grid (Lakeshore Learning) will help children develop different math skills. Depending on the child’s age, developmental level, and/or grade, the child can learn the following concepts:

  • identify numbers
  • count by 1s, 2s, 5s, and 10s
  • match number cubes to numbers on grid
  • identify even and odd numbers
  • sequence numbers
  • count with one-to-one correspondence

Materials

The Hands-On Number Grid contains 101 plastic pieces (1 number grid and 100 cubes). Each cube is numbered individually with printed black numbers 1-100 on one side. Printed white numbers on opposite side of some cubes represent multiples of 5. The color-coded cubes also represent EVEN and ODD numbers. There are 50 green cubes (odd numbers) and 50 blue cubes (even numbers). The numbers on the grid are printed in black. The cubes are easy to grip and the number grid is sturdy.


Identifying Numbers

Children will learn to identify numbers by rote counting. This process includes counting as well as learning number names.


Counting by 1s

When counting by 1s, all number cubes in the grid are represented in black print (e.g., 1-5, 1-20, etc.). This is a great opportunity to introduce and focus on matching, counting with one-to-one correspondence, number recognition, and sequencing.

Counting by 2s

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When counting by 2s, emphasis is on numbers according to cube colors (blue or green). Follow a color pattern when counting by 2s (green cubes = odd numbers; blue cubes = even numbers). Either way, you’re counting by 2s. Start with a few numbers (e.g., 1-10) and increase as child demonstrates understanding when counting by 2s.

Counting by 5s

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When counting by 5s, all number cubes in the grid are represented in black print. Multiples of 5 (i.e., 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, 65, 70, 75, 80, 85, 90, 95, and 100) are represented in white print.

Counting by 10s

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When counting by 10s, all number cubes in the grid are represented in black print. Multiples of 10 (i.e., 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, and 100) are represented in white print.


Odd Numbers

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When counting ODD numbers, emphasis is on the green cubes. Count the green cubes only and you’re counting odd numbers.

Even Numbers

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When counting EVEN numbers, emphasis is on the blue cubes. Count the blue cubes only and you’re counting even numbers.


My experience using the Hands-On Number Grid

In my practice as a special educator and SEIT, I have used the Hands-On Number Grid in a variety of ways. I have worked with children that are unable to identify numbers or count. I have also worked with 3-year-olds that are able to identify every number between 1 and 100. The Hands-On Number Grid can be easily adapted to support all children.


Additional Activities

Ask simple WH questions – This is a great activity I have tried when working in small groups of 3-5 children. Each child has a number cube and I ask one of the following questions:

  • Who has number ___?” The child may respond “me” or “I do.” Also, one child can identify the peer (by name or by saying “he/she”) that has the number ___.
  • What number is this?”
  • Where is number ___?”
  • Which number is missing?” – Remove any number cube (or several number cubes) and ask the child to identify the missing number(s). This activity reinforces identifying numbers and is helpful as children learn sequencing numbers. If exposed to this activity, the child should be able to recognize all numbers used during activity (e.g., 1-5).

Note picture below in which number ‘3’ is missing.

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One-to-one correspondence – “Touch and count” as the child places the cubes in the grid. Start with a few numbers (e.g., 1-5) and increase (e.g., 1-10) as child demonstrates understanding of one-to-one zcorrespondence.

Matching – Place a few cubes (e.g., 1-3) in front of child and count, “1.” Then redirect child to find the number ‘1’ cube. Continue counting “2” and then redirect the child to find the number ‘2’ cube. Start with a few numbers and increase as child demonstrates understanding.

“Before” and “After” – “Which number comes ‘before’ ___?” and/or “Which number comes ‘after’ ___?”

“Counting On” – Children can rote count from a number other than 1 without having to go back and starting at 1. For example, if the child is counting on from 3, you should hear “4, 5, 6, 7, 8 …”


Most children also demonstrated improvement in other areas, including but not limited to:

  • not calling out
  • identifying peer names
  • responding when name is called
  • waiting turn
  • taking turns
  • sharing
  • isolating index finger to point
  • joint attention
  • improved attention span

Suggestions

  • Teaching multiple concepts at once is not a good idea. Teach counting, number identification (i.e., “What number is this?” or “Where is number 6?”), sequencing, and one-to-one correspondence, separately. For example, teach sequencing numbers only after child is able to recognize numbers.
  • Counting by 2s, 5s, and 10s should be introduced after child is able to identify all numbers. Counting by 2s, 5s, and 10s helps children develop the skills necessary to understand place value, skip counting, and multiplication.
  • EVEN and ODD numbers should be introduced after child is able to identify and sequence numbers.
  • Children should be able to rote count prior to counting on.

Summary

The Hands-On Number Grid is a plastic sturdy grid with 100 plastic cubes. The cubes are color-coded and easy to use. Differentiating the colors is helpful so that children can focus on each individual skill. Children will learn to:

  • identify numbers
  • count by 1s, 2s, 5s, and 10s
  • match numbers (cubes in grid)
  • identify even and odd numbers
  • sequence numbers
  • count with one-to-one correspondence

Additional Information

Where to buy

About Me!

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My name is Ziograin Correa, Sr., also known as ‘Zio,’ and I am a husband, father of six adorable children (5 boys and 1 girl), and teacher. Born and raised in the Bronx, NY to Puerto Rican parents, I grew up with four siblings in a Spanish-speaking household. I attended P.S. 159, JHS 118, and James Monroe High School in New York City. I currently reside in Manhattan with my wife and children.

My experiences as a parent motivated me to pursue a career in education. Missed opportunities to seek and obtain early intervention and/or CPSE services for my son, after he was diagnosed with autism, encouraged me to pursue a career in early childhood special education. I had never envisioned myself becoming a teacher.

After graduating from James Monroe High School in June 1996, I did not intend to go to college. Instead, I wanted to join the U.S. Army, but shortly before enlistment oath, I changed my mind. Several months later, I met Michelle, whom would become my wife and mother of my children. Our first son was born in August 1998.

On May 28, 2000, my life changed forever. During a baseball game at Yankee Stadium between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, a foul ball struck and fractured my right hand. Several days later I had surgery and then a long recovery. While recovering, my worker’s compensation attorney asked me, “What are you going to do now?” I was injured and unemployed. At the time I had a 21-month-old child.

By August 2000, I had enrolled at Hostos Community College/CUNY (Bronx, NY) and graduated with an associate degree in liberal arts. I transferred to Hunter College/CUNY (New York, NY) and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science. After deciding that law school was not for me due to full-time obligations (family and work), I enrolled at Bank Street College of Education (New York, NY) and graduated with a master of science in education with specialties in dual language/bilingual education, early childhood general education (birth-grade 2), and early childhood special education (birth-grade 2). I am certified to teach birth-grade 2 in general education, special education, and dual language/bilingual settings.

While in graduate school, I taught in a bilingual integrated second grade class. I then worked with preschool students with disabilities. For several years, I provided direct services to preschool students at head start programs, daycare centers, and in their homes. I’m currently working as a special educator with the NYC Early Intervention Program, providing direct services to infants and toddlers and coaching their families and providers, mostly at daycare centers or in the home.

During my time as a special educator, I have realized that families ask the same question over and over again: What toys do you recommend? Regardless of family income and/or educational attainment, they are determined to support their child. Most of my middle class and wealthy families have tons of toys not appropriate for our sessions while most low-income to very low-income families have no toys at all. The NYC Early Intervention Program requires special educators to coach families so the child can meet functional outcomes and objectives written on the child’s Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). How can I coach families that do not have appropriate toys/no toys at all? It can be very challenging. I try not to ask families to purchase toys for my sessions. However, when they are willing and able to do so, I recommend toys as well as demonstrate how to play appropriately with the toys so children can meet their goals.

At the same time, parents and caregivers often use toys inappropriately. For example, most families would encourage their child to learn five body parts at the same time. I coach families to pick one body part (i.e., eyes) and make the eyes the target body part for several weeks. No need to rush; too much information for young children. When appropriate, we can then introduce a second body part (i.e., mouth) while reinforcing ‘eyes.’ It is important to consider field of two (eyes and mouth) and ask, “Where are the eyes?” or “Can you find the mouth?” The way we present and use the toys determines growth over time.

Whether families live in a city homeless shelter or in one of the city’s priciest neighborhoods, professional/illiterate, they all share the same vision: they would do almost anything to ensure that their child moves up the developmental ladder.

I want to continue to support families so that children can play to learn and families can learn to play. My goal is to support anyone working with children (parents, caregivers, preschools, head start programs, daycare centers, childcare providers, teachers, and child life programs).