10 Math Skills Children Can Learn From Laundry Detergent Lids, Part 3 of 4

9 DSC_0031 edited by rjf

Distinguishing Differences. Left: Similar types of lids but different colors; Right: Lids with ridges

10 DSC_0040 edited by rjf

Sort into small size lids, medium and large

Math Skill #7: Beginning Seriation

Seriation [seer-ee-ey-shuh] (1) describes the way young children organize their world based on differences. Can your preschooler distinguish different characteristic of lids, such as lids with ridges or the same type of lids, no matter what color? Ask children, “What’s another way you can sort the lids?”


An additional part of seriation describes the relationship among objects, such as big, bigger, biggest. Begin by teaching toddlers

concepts like bigger and smaller. Say, “I have a big lid. You have a small lid.” Once they learn this concept, they can compare simple attributes. Ask, “Which lid is bigger, the blue lid or the red lid?”

Sort by Sizes

Next preschoolers can sort by sizes by small, medium, and large lids. Eventually children can refine the sizes and create more size groups, like tiny or very large.

Math Skill 8: Advanced Seriation

Ultimately children become more aware of the properties or qualities of objects. They can compare more specific attributes and order objects on gradual variations, such as by height. Ask, “Can you arrange the lids from shortest to tallest?”

14 DSC_0038 edited by rjf

Top row: Smallest to Largest; Bottom row: Light to Dark


Children can determine a logical progression of contrasting differences for items. More examples include:

  • by color intensity: light to dark, (refer to the photo with orange, purple, and blue lids arranged from the lightest to the darkest);
  • by length: shorter to longer;
  • by weight: heavy to light; or
  • by texture: rough to smooth.




  1. content.dictionary.com.

Leave a Comment