Sorting is an important skill for young children to practice and develop.
Putting items into categories is something we use multiple times a day, whether we are unloading groceries, putting away laundry or toys, or cleaning out our purse.
It is best to allow a child to sort concrete objects, and in this way they will develop the ability to sort a group of objects or data just by looking at them, in their mind (abstractly).
The most common way that young children sort is by color or size. Another way (even babies) can begin to learn to sort is through tactile means. Is an object rough or soft? Does it taste salty or sweet? Begin introducing this skill to your baby by making a feeling bag or basket with different "feeling" objects in it. Sandpaper blocks, small stuffed animals, bean bags, and felt are all good items to begin with.
When your child begins a journey into toddlerhood, they can sort objects by size, shape, or color as well as through tactile senses. You can mix together different types of cereal, dried beans, or use trail mix and have children sort out the items into muffin cups or small bowls. The wooden bowl set you see above I picked up at our local thrift store for $2. Around Easter is a great time to use jelly beans! I am also a fan of the little packages of erasers (see photos above) that you can order from Oriental Trading. They have lots of different options. Sometimes you can find eraser variety packs at the dollar store as well.