This year the fish and I are learning about biomes, covering one each month. We started the school year with deserts and during the month I taught them some basic animal classification that we will then review throughout the school year as we cover the different biomes. I made Animal Sorting Mats so they could have some hands-on practice classifying animals without having to do a worksheet. They don’t mind worksheets, but they really enjoy sitting on the floor doing more manipulative tasks. Big Fish, grade 3, easily sorted the animals between all six groups (birds, mammals, fish, arthropods, reptiles, and amphibians) with little help. He was also able to check his answers independently. Little Fish, grade 1, needed more help and benefited from having just a few mats at a time to sort through. Sorting reptiles, amphibians, and arthropods was the hardest for him, so including only one of these at a time was key.
After I printed out the materials and cut apart the cards, I slid each mat into a page protector. For storage, I then slid the cards into the page protector with the answer key and then slid all the mats and answer key into a slot in an expandable file with pockets. I use this folder to store all of our sorting mats.