Which One Does Not Belong?


Making Connections

Additional Purpose(s):

Organizing Learning Math


This process invites learners to apply different sorting criteria and explain their thinking.


This can be a whole class, small group or partner routine. 

  1. Create a group of four shapes, images, items, or numbers for learners to view. Make choices for the group so that each one could belong or not belong depending on the sorting criteria learners might apply. 
  2. Ask learners to look at the group of four and find one that they feel doesn’t belong. Invite them to reflect on their own or with an elbow partner about their reasoning. 
  3. Invite learners to explain their choices and thinking about why it doesn’t belong or is different from the others. 
  4. Encourage learners to find reasons why a different image, item, shape or number than the one they chose might not belong. 
  5. There are no answers provided. 


Group of four shapes, images, items or numbers