Sorting can be done by different criteria—for instance, according to size, color, or shape. The level of difficulty can be easily adjusted for each participant by the number of items offered (more items equals more challenging). Sorting activities can be customized to meet a participant’s personal area of interest (e.g., sports, cooking, or nature).

Organize silverware.

Silverware display chest – Open the display chest in front of the participant and make sure the silverware is disorganized. You can ask if the participant wants to help put the silverware back.  Early stage: Place the silverware in a jar and ask if the participant can put it away for you in the display chest. Late stage: Place a fork or spoon in their hand and ask if the participant can put it away for you in the display chest. It does not matter where they put the silverware.

Optional: Ask if they would like to help polish the silverware. Provide them with a small towel and a bowl of toothpaste (to work as polish).


Positive interaction!  To end the activity say something like  ‘That was fun, we will do that again.’ or “You did that very well.




Coins – Coins can be sorted on the tabletop or into containers. Higher-functioning individuals might want to write the amounts with a pencil and then add them up.




Poker chips – Poker chips can be sorted by size or color and may be stacked or put in a poker chip rack (Figure 2A).


Pasta or beans – Provide a mixture of dry pasta pieces (bow tie, spirals, penne, etc.) to be sorted by shape or tricolor spirals to be sorted by color. A mixture of beans can be organized by size, color, or type of bean.

Optional: Place rice or beans in a container, then bury buttons, seashells, and coins in it. Ask participants to find the buried treasure. For those lacking the dexterity, offer to let them use a slotted spoon to dig for treasure. Provide an extra container for their findings



  Wooden Number Cards and Counting Rods with Box – Middle to advanced stage 




Stacking or sorting cubes or blocks or legos.  Think of something stackable or sorting in your house or community – plastic/paper cups, anything with solid colors. 




Different size wooden cylinders – Middle to advanced stage dementia.  When she/he completes to task of placing the size cylinder in each hole, they will be proud.




Photo or picture cutouts – Using photos or pictures is a great way to specifically meet someone’s particular interests. If you have the option of laminating, the pictures or photos will withstand more usage, and the photos will be easier for participants to pick up or slide on a table top. A few ideas:

Sports – Sort images of sporting equipment, for instance, items used in football, baseball, tennis, basketball, or hockey. Sort by what is used for each sport, all items that are balls, or items that are worn on the body.

Nature – Sort creatures by whether they fly or swim, sort flowers from trees, or sort winter scenes from summer scenes.

Tools – Sort gardening tools from those used on autos.  


Sensory Outing Company will conduct Zoom or Microsoft Teams class with your residents or loved-one.  Email SOC today