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What Is It?

Identify, Sort, Classify

You sort and classify objects every day, whether you realize it or not. For most adults, it's an automatic process. Most of the time, it doesn't feel like math. But sorting and classifying are fundamental skills that form the basis of much of geometry as well as pattern recognition.

When you sort and classify objects (or pictures, or words, or anything else), you determine characteristics that the objects share, and characteristics they don't share. In other words, you identify how they are alike and how they are different. These characteristics are commonly called attributes. For example, the following set of objects is sorted by the attribute of shape:


You could also sort the same set of objects by the attribute of size:


Deciding which attribute to sort by is an important reasoning skill. It's also important to recognize that many sets have many different possible classifications. Most things we encounter have more than one attribute, so they can be sorted in at least as many ways as they have attributes!  

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