Kids' Sorting Boxes

by Sandy Stubbings and Susan Dally, AOS Education Committee

Children sort photos of orchid flowers into boxes. Non-readers sort photos into boxes of different colors according to the dominant color of the flower. Children able to read sort orchid flower photos by type of orchid (matching to pictures on the boxes.) When the child has completed the task, pin a mini-ribbon on the child’s shirt. (Used ribbons with identification parts cut off with safety pins)


Print at least 2 “wallet sized” copies of each orchid flower you plan to use. (You have the owners’ permission to print photos from To make the pictures more durable, you can laminate one copy of each. Be sure the photos include a good range of orchid types and colors.

Collect boxes (You can buy cardboard bins that stack, with openings in the front, from U-Line. You can also cut openings in gift boxes.) You will need two sets of boxes, one for color sorting for preschool children and one for type-of–orchid sorting for older children. Cut part of the top away so children can drop pictures in the boxes.

For Color sorting:

Paint each box a different color. (I used washable tempera paints easily purchased at Target, Wal-mart, etc.) You may need to use 2 or 3 coats of paint to cover.

For Orchid Type sorting:

Label each box with one orchid type where the children can see the labels. (ex.: “Cattleya”; “Dendrobium”; “Oncidium and Intergenerics”; “Paphiopedalum”; “Phalaenopsis”; Vandas and Vandaceous”; “Others”) Glue one of the copies of each picture to the outside of the correctly labeled box where the children will be able to see it. (With enough pictures you can cover the entire box.) Put the matching photos in envelopes –up to 10 in an envelope. Use a variety of types of orchid photos and flower colors in each envelope.

Using the Sorting Boxes

Give the child an envelope to sort each photo into a box. If very young, the child can sort into the colored boxes. If older, into the Orchid Type boxes.

When photos are all sorted, pin a ribbon on the child’s shirt.

This activity had instructions in clear plastic, easel style, exhibit frames. Instructions for the public on the front; instructions for the volunteers, on the back.

Front of sign for public: SORTING BOXES


Sort the photos into the boxes by color of flower. Show an HOS member to get a ribbon.

  • Choose an envelope of pictures
  • Sort each picture into the box according to its type of orchid. (Use the pictures on the box to help yourself.)
  • Show an HOS member what you sorted to get a ribbon.
  • Pin the ribbon to your shirt

Back of sign for volunteers: SORTING BOXES


Give a ribbon to each child who sorts. (Pin it on shirt if possible.) Blue for getting all the pictures correct, red for most, white for everyone else.


Give a ribbon to each child who sorts. (Pin it on shirt if possible.) Blue for getting all and all-but-one of the pictures correct, red for most, white for everyone else. (Sometimes, we just give the child the color requested.)