Card sort and card matching


  • Card sorts can be used to determine student understanding of values. Mendeleev used cards with information about the elements to develop the first periodic table. In some cases (e.g., for values), there are many ways to sort cards.
  • Create sets of cards with words, pictures, definitions, examples or almost anything else. Give them to students to cllassify, generalize, develop rules, show understanding or make deductions. They can also serve as a springboard to great discussion!

Card matching

  • Create cards to review content, for instance matching a term with its definition or a picture of equipment with its function.
  • Create cards for students to classify objects or ideas, for instance energy forms as kinetic or potential or flowers and their families.
  • Create cards to practice skills, for instance equations to solve on one set and solutions on the other set.

Card sorting

  • Create cards the form a series, for instance small to large objects (nanoscale to cosmic scale) or pictures of the life cycle of a frog.
  • Create cards of options and have students rank them from least to most desirable.

Logistical notes

  • You can create cards in a word processor and print them on card stock. They will last for many years. If students work in pairs, you really don't need that many sets. To create 4 to a page in Microsoft Word (like the example below), use a landscape document set up. Set the margins to 0 and then create a 2x2 table. In the option "Table Properties" you can set the cell margin to be 0.5 inches all around; also set the cell height to fit on your page. Then whatever you type in each cell will always be the same size and have the correct margins.



  1. Personal values card sort (for an example, pdf file)
  2. concept sorts (description and references)
  3. Science Formative Assessment, Page Keeley, NSTA Press. Assessment #4. This is a great resource! Even though the examples are specific to science, each of the 75 formative assessments can be used in almost any discipline.
  4. "Non-traditional Card Sorts," The Science Teacher, December 2007 (article link for members)
  5. Making Meaning with Word Sorts (description)
  6. Word sorts from Florida Online Reading Strategies (discussion, examples and additional references)