North Carolina Early Learning and Development Progressions: Birth to Five

Domain: NC Foundations for Early Learning: Cognitive Development (CD)

Subdomain: Mathematical Thinking and Expression

Goal: Children compare, sort, group, organize and measure objects and create patterns in their everyday environment.

Skill Progression: Classifying

Age: 42-48 Months

Click here to go to all skills for ages 42-48 Months.

Matches a wide range of colors

Situations for Observation of Skill

Have a dramatic play area for travel set up. Have a variety of different suitcases, clothing for different weather (coats, bathing suits, flip flops, boots, etc.). Have other travel materials as well (brush, comb, toothbrush, tooth paste, etc.). Plan for 3-4 children to play at a time. Have travel brochures and “tickets” to sell them.

Elicitation Strategy

The adult can act as the travel agent. Ask the children about where they want to go on vacation. When are they going? What holiday? How would they like to travel? (train, plane, car) What is the weather like there and what will they want to pack? Talk about the different foods they will eat. “Do they have animals in Colorado?” “What kind?” “I think they have a zoo there that would be fun to visit. What animals would you like to see?” Adjust questions to whatever fits the child’s destination. “They have a lot of fruit in Hawaii. What kind would you like to eat?” Allow children to pack their bags. Remind them to put the heavier (or harder) items in the bottom and the lighter (or softer) items on top. The adult can make suggestions for packing for various categories.

Behavior Observed

Listen for children’s knowledge about different categories, knowledge of weather and the match with clothing, etc. Children should be able to plan what to take to a beach, to the mountains, etc. Children will be able to group items that go together in their packing, locate heavy objects at the bottom, group clothing items, or match them by color, etc.

Routines-based Intervention (Embedded Instruction)

This is just one example of a dramatic play scenario that can pull together many types of classification. You can design many others to motivate the children to organize their materials during play. For example, a veterinarian or a zookeeper could involve many types of classification.

 North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 2015

©2015 by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit