Children learn to classify objects by understanding the attributes of objects, being able to identify them, and knowing the vocabulary to vocalize their thoughts. “What Doesn’t Belong?” is a fun, simple game to help build the concept of classification. It involves learning about similarities and differences, vocabulary development, observation, and abstract thinking.
In order to play, name three items for your child, two alike and one different. For example, you might say “t-shirt, skirt, bike” or “apple, banana, broccoli.” Ask your child which “doesn’t belong.” It’s important to ask the child “why” he chose a particular object so he can practice verbalizing his reasons.
“What Doesn’t Belong?” can be played at home using actual objects and observation, or can be done anywhere without tangible objects, requiring the child to picture the items in her head.
To take it to the next level, name critical attributes of an object and have your child name the object. You might say big, small, yummy, stinky, slow, squishy, and so on. To make it easier, use just one critical attribute, such as “big.” Your child can name anything big. To make it more complicated, name two or three attributes of a particular object and see if she can guess what you’re thinking of. “Name something big and gray.” Your child might say “elephant.”
These games are great to play in the car or while waiting for your food at a restaurant.