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Sorting and Classification for Young Children

based on 4 ratings
Author: Shelly Smith

Grade Level: preschool to 1st; Type: General Science

Objective:

Encourage children to practice and refine sorting and classification skills essential to scientific research.

Research Questions:

  • Can you sort the buttons into sets?
  • What do the buttons in each set have in common?
  • Can you sort them into subsets?
  • Can you sort them in other ways?

Sorting and classification are important skills for a scientist (think Periodic Table of Elements & Taxonomic Hierarchy). This project encourages children to practice and refine these skills. It lends itself to viewer participation when presented at a fair. Keep a list handy for participants to record all the different ways they’ve invented to sort and classify.

Materials:

  • A large variety of buttons. Alternatively (especially with the youngest children) you may use a variety of breakfast cereals which provides the added appeal of being safe and edible.

Experimental Procedure:

  1. Using a variety of buttons (the older the scientist, the more buttons are appropriate), sort them into sets.
  2. What do the buttons in each set have in common (how would you classify them)?
  3. If possible, sort each set into subsets.
  4. Resort the buttons in a different way. How would you classify these new sets of buttons?
  5. When presenting the results as a science fair project, it is fun to make the buttons available for sorting on the table.

Terms/Concepts: sort, classify, set, subset

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