Dollar Tree Categorization Activity

While browsing around Dollar Tree the other day, I noticed a divided serving tray and ideas started to form. Isn't that how it always happens at the Dollar Tree? You can never walk out without buying a bunch of random items or projects for your classroom. Anyhow, I immediately thought of a great idea of how to use the divided plastic serving tray with my students who have difficulty with categorization.

Plastic divided serving tray used for categorization

Here's a picture of the dollar object that sparked my idea. Four spaces on the sides and one in the middle. This allows for one broad category in the middle circle and up to four more specific categories on the four sides.

Small plastic animal toys

In this therapy session, I chose animals as my broad category. I used small, plastic, toy animals as the manipulatives in this activity. You can buy small plastic toy animals/figures at the dollar store, a party store, a toy store, a store like Target that carries toys, or through a catalog such as Oriental Trading. They were about 5-50 cents a piece.

Categories in a divided tray

Then, I took a piece of paper, wrote the broad category that my students came up with on it, and placed it in the middle of the tray. After that, we brainstormed more specific categories to divide the plastic animals into. I wrote these categories onto four pieces of paper and placed them into the four sides of the tray. My students even divided the bugs and pets into more specific categories afterward.

Here is an example of how I used this same activity with the broad category of vehicles:

Vehicle categories in a divided tray

You can do this with categorization activity with photo cards, words, or other small figures depending on your group. My students really love it when activities are hands on rather than naming items in a category on the board/paper, stating items in a category based on a flashcard, or naming a category based on items on a worksheet/flashcard.

Parents - you can do this at home with various toys/items around the house. You do not even need to have a dividing tray, use various bowls to place objects into different categories. Categorize by size, shape, color, function of the item, etc.

(P.S. I love the title of this post. Tree-Activity. As my students would cheer: "That rhymes!")

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