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Tidy and sort – blocks and shapes

Organising and tidying away equipment can be a good time to help children with sorting and categorising. Mohtasib organises and puts away the blocks with support from the adult.

Good for looking at

  • Maths
  • Categorising
  • Shape
  • Size
  • Language
  • Routines - tidy up time
  • Effective adult support


  • What cues can you see that show what the child is interested in? (Look out for non-verbal and body language as well as spoken language)
  • In what ways does the adult support the children’s interest and understanding of the properties of shapes, spatial thinking sorting and matching?
  • How does the environment support the child’s learning?


What are your thoughts about:

  • The areas of learning and development that were covered during this tidy up time?
  • The adult’s role – how did she support the child, specifically with mathematical concepts?
  • The importance of the organisation of the environment and materials?


What would you do to:

  • Use routine times like tidying to support children’s development of mathematical concepts?
  • Support the children’s interest in shapes, sorting and matching?
  • Encourage children to share their knowledge with others?

What next:

  • Did watching the clip help you notice any particular strengths or weaknesses that you might have when trying to support children with maths during routine times such as tidying? Do you use these times as a learning opportunity?
  • Do you allow enough time for tidy up time to be used as a meaningful context for teaching mathematical concepts?
  • Could you support others with something you are particularly good at? Or find someone to support you with an area you find difficult?
  • What does tidy up time look like in your setting? Could you make time for observations of routines like tidy up time in your setting?