Sorting bottle caps is a popular preschool activity. I’ve been collecting bottle caps, and soliciting a number of friends to save them for me, for the very purpose of re-purposing them into various learning activities, such as sorting. They are currently so popular in my house that I have two smaller containers (instead of just one big container) full of caps. My kids, of all their toys, fight the most over the bottle caps.
Sort by Color – Bottle caps come in a variety of colors, especially milk caps. Red for whole milk, light blue or green for 1%, dark blue for 2%, and purple for…so on and so forth. Sorting bottle caps by color is an excellent activity for beginner sorters, and also one that your child will frequently want to do.
Sort by Size – Look around your pantry and you will find that bottle caps come in various sizes. Products like peanut butter are very, very large, while the caps to bottled water of vinegar are quite small. Sorting by size is an easy way to support early measurement skills.
Note: Sometimes it is very difficult for a preschooler to differentiate between some sizes, so I taught William to try to place one cap inside another. If one bottle cap fits inside another, then one must be smaller than the other.
Sort by Material – Bottle caps aren’t all plastic, so have your preschooler sort by material. This has the potential to lead into a nice science lesson.
Sort by Design – Some bottle caps have writing on the top, some do not. Some bottle caps have written logos, some logos are pictures. This really adds to the difficulty of an otherwise basic sorting activity.
Sort by Function – Some bottle caps have flip top lids, like those that come on condiments and spices. Sorting by the bottle cap function leads your preschoolers to carefully investigate each cap and define subtle differences in each.
Sort by Number of Holes – Flip top bottle caps have holes in them, so use them for another sorting activity. This makes for an easy impromptu one to one correspondence counting activity as well.
Remember that sorting is an excellent activity that support algebraic thinking. See my post here about preschool algebra. So, even if your preschooler or toddler is a very good sorting, try out some of these ideas to switch things up a bit. Or, for older and more practiced kiddies, try some open ended sorting and allow your child to define and explain heir own groupings.