In my search for ideas to entertain a toddler, I read over and over again that toddlers like to sort things. I ready many ideas for facilitating various sorting games, and most of these included using an egg carton or a muffin tin. I figured Baby Bear was more likely to chew on the egg carton than use it for sorting, so I went with the muffin tin.
I handed Baby Bear the muffin tin (which he had to play with by itself for a while because it was something new), and then I handed him a collection of small toys. I began placing the rings, balls, shapes from his shapes sorter, and Little People figures into the muffin tin so that each compartment held one toy. He was quick to upturn the muffin tin! In fact, this was the game we played the first few times we did this activity. Mama Bear sorted and Baby Bear emptied, which was fine because he was having fun.
Eventually, Baby Bear began helping me sort the toys into the muffin tin. This proved to be a good lesson in capacity as Baby Bear learned that if he tried to make all the toys fit in one compartment, that would not work. He also experimented with placing larger objects into the compartments and discovered that the big toys would not fit.
I love this activity because it is versatile. As he gets older and begins expanding his math skills (yes, matching is a math skill), I can extend this activity to include sorting by shape, color, and size. We could also sort by types of toys (i.e. Little People in one row, rings in another, shapes in another, balls in another).
The blog that convinced me to try this activity was The Imagination Tree.