This is a good example of an activity that just doesn’t quite go the way you plan. I’ll get to that in a second though.
So, one concept of early math at this age is recognizing differences (ie. color, shape, size) and learning to sort them by those characteristics. It’s something that we, as adults, do on a daily basis without even realizing it. So, for the fall season I found these decorative leaves for a couple of dollars at the local craft store and thought they would be fun to sort. The nice thing is they have come with different types of leaves, different colors, and different sizes, so they can be sorted by any of these characteristics.
When we did this it was kind of flat. Don’t be discouraged if sometimes activities just don’t catch the eye of your child. They are supposed to be fun! So, I presented this to my son, he would start to sort them, and then just lose interest in it and start putting leaves in any pile. What he really wanted to do was throw the leaves in the air!
This activity is repeated throughout the fall season. So, now I know to be more on top of asking him questions and giving ideas for new ways to play with them and new ways to sort the leaves. And even then he might still just want to throw the leaves, and I’m fine with that.
Keep in mind your younger child (1 -2 years) might not grasp this sorting concept like you are expecting them to. I would recommend demonstrating what it means to sort the leaves and just let them try. Even if they aren’t doing it, they are going to be thinking about it and building new concepts.
By doing this simple sorting activity, even if it doesn’t go according to plan, your child will have fun playing with a new material, they will engage fine motor muscles, you can point out similarities and differences in the different leaves, and they will start to process what those differences mean. This activity is repeated, and that offers several more times to keep building upon what they learned or experienced the last time.