In this activity, students practice their observation skills as they use their senses to sort and classify various objects from trees.
- An assortment of small objects from trees (see Getting Ready)
- Resealable plastic bags or other containers to hold objects (see Getting Ready)
- Digital camera (optional)
alike, classify, sort
- Gather a variety of different objects that come from trees. Check around your classroom or home for ideas. Possibilities include:
- Pieces of bark
- Cinnamon sticks
- Dried bay leaves
- Pieces of dried apple
- Walnuts or other tree nut in the shell*
- Small wooden blocks
- Wooden toothpicks
- “Tree cookies” (cross-section slices of a tree trunk or branch)
- Small pieces of paper (such as writing paper, newspaper, tissue paper, and paper towels)
- Small pieces of cardboard
- *SAFETY NOTE: Do not use tree nuts if any students in your class have allergies to them.
- For each pair of students, make a set of objects for sorting by placing 6–10 objects in a resealable bag or other container.
Doing the Activity
- Divide the class into pairs and give each pair a set of objects for sorting. Challenge students to use their sense of touch to sort the objects into two or more piles so that all the objects in a pile are alike in some way. Ask a few pairs to share how they sorted the objects. You may take sample photographs of each pair’s sorting to use for pre-assessment (see Evaluate).
- Challenge students to use their sense of smell to resort the objects. Again, ask a few pairs to share how they sorted the objects.
- Finally, challenge students to use their sense of sight to resort the objects. Ask some pairs to share how they sorted.
- Lead an open-ended discussion about the objects and the sorting activity. Consider using collaborative discussion strategies for leading the discussion. Ask questions such as:
- We sorted the objects using our senses of touch, smell, and sight. What other ways could we sort these objects?
- Looking at the different objects, what patterns do you see?
- What other observations can you make about the objects?
- Looking at all of the objects together, in what ways are they all alike?
- Where do these objects come from?
- Which of these objects come from trees?
- Have you eaten or used anything else today that comes from trees?
- What other ways do people use trees?
- What ways do other animals use trees?
- How might plants use trees?
Remember to visit the Enrich tab for recommended children’s books that support the science concepts covered in this activity.