K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education


LEARN NC is no longer supported by the UNC School of Education and has been permanently archived. On February 1st, 2018, you will only be able to access these resources through the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. We recommend that you print or download resources you may need before February 1st, 2018, after which, you will have to follow these instructions in order to access those resources.

Learn more

Related pages

  • Body graphing: "Body Graphing" is an interactive graphing activity involving manipulatives to compare graphing results. With the use of ropes and unifix cubes students will learn to compare and contrast their body with classmates. The graphing activity can be extended to graph differences with height, hair and eye color, and other physical attributes.
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar: The learner will be doing curriculum integrated activities using Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
  • M&M math: Rotating to each station using M&M's, this lesson will allow students to add, graph, sort, and estimate.

Related topics


Please read our disclaimer for lesson plans.


The text of this page is copyright ©2008. See terms of use. Images and other media may be licensed separately; see captions for more information and read the fine print.

Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • be exposed to the concept of recognizing attributes.
  • sort and classify objects by various attributes.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

30 minutes


  • A large (20-30), varied assortment of transportation items. Be sure that the objects gathered are of various colors, sizes, materials, and represent different modes of transportation. I have picked these up at dollar stores, McDonald’s, and yard sales. You may want to ask the students to bring in items from home. These items may be kept in a large container for use during this lesson.
  • Several 3×5 index cards for labeling
  • Pencils or markers
  • A substantial open floor area
  • Chart paper and markers


This lesson is part of my unit on bus rules and transportation. Prior to this lesson, in a whole group setting, the students have been exposed to various books, charts, and a discussion exemplifying various modes of transportation used to move people and things. Following this the teacher should lead the students in a brainstorming session where the class makes a list of transportation items i.e. car, cement mixer, jet ski, etc. This should be in no particular order. The teacher should write the list on large chart paper as the students help to sound out the words.


  1. Following the whole group lesson, the children are divided into smaller groups or centers of 5-6 students. This lesson should be teacher facilitated, with the students working cooperatively in this small group. They should be allowed to work together to reach their own conclusions as the lesson progresses. The children will sit in a circle, and the teacher should empty the tub of objects onto the floor in the middle of the circle of students. Spread the objects out so that they can all be seen by the group.
  2. Begin the lesson by simply asking the children how the objects in the middle are alike. Following some verbal answers, ask how the objects are different. Then ask the students to name some ways that they could sort, or classify the objects into groups. You will need to modify your guidance of the students, depending on how much prior exposure the class has had to classifying. You may even need to give them an example or two at the beginning of the lesson until they understand this concept.
  3. Some ways that the students may sort are by:
    • color
    • size
    • number of wheels
    • composition material (metal, plastic, wood, etc.)
    • goes on land, water, air
    • floats, does not float
    • number of windows, doors
    • contains people, no people
  4. As the students sort the items into groups, they must label the groups by attribute. They need to sound out and write labels on the cards, and then label each group. They may choose to draw a picture on their label as added reinforcement.
  5. After sorting the items by an attribute the students should combine all the items again, before moving on to sort them another way. Each time they should sort and label, before moving on. The teacher should observe, and contribute, as needed. Be sure to ask open ended questions and serve only as a facilitator.
  6. After completing the small group center work, gather the class and refer back to the brainstorming list which was completed earlier. Beside each mode of transportation listed there, ask the group to help you to list some attributes of each. This serves as a review and reinforcement to the small group lesson.


The teacher should observe as the lesson progresses. The teacher may choose to make anecdotal notes of those students who seem to have difficulty understanding the concept. The following day the teacher will give each child a group of objects which the student will sort independently.

Supplemental information


This is always a fun and enjoyable activity for my class. I leave the tub of objects and cards out for several days to allow the children to use them independently. This lesson lends itself well for a follow up lesson on patterning, using the objects which were used for classifying, and patterning by attribute.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • English Language Arts (2010)
      • Language

        • Kindergarten
          • K.L.5 With guidance and support from adults, explore word relationships and nuances in word meanings. K.L.5.1 Sort common objects into categories (e.g., shapes, foods) to gain a sense of the concepts the categories represent. K.L.5.2 Demonstrate understanding...
      • Reading: Foundational Skills

        • K.RFS.2 Demonstrate understanding of spoken words, syllables, and sounds (phonemes). K.RFS.2.1 Recognize and produce rhyming words. K.RFS.2.2 Count, pronounce, blend, and segment syllables in spoken words. K.RFS.2.3 Blend and segment onsets and rimes of single-syllable...

    • Mathematics (2010)
      • Kindergarten

        • Measurement & Data
          • K.MD.3Classify objects into given categories; count the numbers of objects in each category and sort the categories by count.1

North Carolina curriculum alignment

English Language Arts (2004)


  • Goal 1: The learner will develop and apply enabling strategies to read and write.
    • Objective 1.02: Develop phonemic awareness and knowledge of alphabetic principle:
      • demonstrate understanding that spoken language is a sequence of identifiable speech sounds.
      • demonstrate understanding that the sequence of letters in the written word represents the sequence of sounds in the spoken word.
      • demonstrate understanding of the sounds of letters and understanding that words begin and end alike (onsets and rimes).

Mathematics (2004)


  • Goal 1: Number and Operations - The learner will recognize, model, and write whole numbers through 30.
    • Objective 1.01: Develop number sense for whole numbers through 30.
      • Connect model, number word (orally), and number, using a variety of representations.
      • Count objects in a set.
      • Read and write numerals.
      • Compare and order sets and numbers.
      • Use ordinals (1st-10th).
      • Estimate quantities fewer than or equal to 10.
      • Recognize equivalence in sets and numbers 1-10.
  • Goal 5: Algebra - The learner will model simple patterns and sort objects.
    • Objective 5.01: Sort and classify objects by one attribute.