Counters with a sorting focus

• Number

• Sorting and Classifying


Counters do not have to be round plastic discs. Students can count anything, including natural and manufactured materials. Many counters have a dual purpose, that of counting and sorting and classifying. Transport counters or animal counters are examples of counters that may be sorted according to various criteria, such as colour, size, type of animal/vehicle.

Mathematical Language


In order to sort and classify, students will need to know colour and shape words and the names of the various counters. For example, when using transport counters students would need to have a common name for each counter: bus, car, plane, helicopter, train and tug boat. The student can then refer to the red tugboat.

Using Counters with a sorting focus


The transport counters could be sorted in colour groupings, that is, all of the red counters, green counters and so on could be sorted into groups. Each different type of vehicle could be sorted into a group, eg helicopters, tug boats. Two criteria could be applied to the sorting, that is, yellow trains.
Counters may be used as objects to count by asking, “how many planes are there?”

Vegetable Counters

Aquatic Counters

Transport Counters

Dinosaur Counters

Typical Classroom Requirements


Class set:

• Several different sets of counters will be required.

Support and Complementary Materials


Pawns may be used to mark the progress of a game. They are easier for children to pick up and move.

Sorting Trays

Sorting Bowls

Attribute Blocks – Attribute Blocks allow children to do more sophisticated sorting and classifying.