Component 3: Classification and Patterning

Learning Goal 3.a: Children learn to order and sort objects by common attributes, to identify patterns, and to predict the next sequence in a pattern.

By 9 months, most children:

  • Classify informally as they intuitively recognize objects or situations as similar (e.g., “things I can hold”)
  • Explore the size and shape of objects through various means (banging, mouthing, dropping, etc.)
  • Engage in repeated actions, including movements and vocalizations
  • Follow daily routines (i.e., patterns), such as being fed and then going to sleep almost immediately
  • Enjoy and begin to anticipate repetition, such as playing a “peek-a-boo” game or hearing a familiar song each time they are diapered

By 18 months, most children:

  • Identify objects or creatures by implicitly recognizing their basic attributes and applying labels that adults perceive as classes (e.g., all canines are “doggies”; all felines are “kitties”)
  • Form sets intuitively in which objects in each set are the same (identical) and objects in the other set are different (e.g., putting all of the dolls in one pile and all of the cars in another)
  • Repeat certain action sequences over and over, such as filling and emptying containers
  • Make patterns intuitively by repeating particular movements and vocalizations
  • Watch, bounce, or clap to rhythmic sounds or sing along when an adult sings a song or chant

By 24 months, most children:

  • Sort and match toys and other objects by attributes, such as color or size
  • Form sets with objects that are similar in some properties (but not necessarily identical), such as separating groups by color
  • Make simple patterns of movement through repeated rhythmic activity
  • Copy an adult’s made-up verbal pattern (e.g., “me, me, moo”)
  • Recognize and begin to participate in patterns within stories and in songs

By 36 months, most children:

  • Follow a verbal rule for sorting objects into sets
  • Notice when two things share similar attributes
  • Recognize and extend a simple repeating pattern (e.g., stomp-clap-stomp-clap), with modeling and support

By 48 months, most children:

  • Sort objects by one attribute into two or more groups (e.g., size: big, medium, and small)
  • Classify everyday objects that go together (e.g., mittens, hats, coats)
  • Demonstrate recognition of a simple, repeating pattern
  • Replicate, complete, and extend repeating patterns
  • Recognize, name, and extend basic growing (or enlarging) patterns (e.g., “one more”)

By 60 months, most children:

  • Sort objects by more than one attribute (e.g., color and shape) into two or more groups
  • Sort sets of objects by one characteristics, then sort by a different characteristics and explain the sorting rules (e.g., “These are all of the red ones, but these are all of the big ones”)
  • Extend sequential patterns and replicate these patterns using different materials or modes (e.g., on being told a pattern, replicating the pattern with manipulatives)
  • Identify the core unit of sequentially repeating patterns (i.e., that set of characteristics or items that repeat)
  • Replicate and extend simple growing (or enlarging) patterns