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Public Education Educator Resources Observe Sort Classify

Learning Objectives

Students will be able to use their senses to observe various objects. Students will be able to sort and classify objects based on their attributes.


Grade Levels



Next Generation Science Standard

Grades K-1: Foundational Science Skills


Materials Needed

Model pictures

Sets of dog pictures (one set for each group)

Computer with internet access




  • Gather students.
  • Explain to students that in order to be a scientist, you must be able to make observations.
  • Define “observe” as using your senses to gather information.
  • Scientists use observations to sort and classify. Sort means to put alike things in groups and classify means to give that group a name.

Explicit Instruction/Teacher Modeling

  • Model how to observe something by the way it looks. Possible questions to ask: Is it big? Is it small? What color(s) is it? What do you think it feels like?
  • Show the students four pictures: a mouse, a cat, a flower and a tree.
  • Describe the way each looks, their size, their colors, what they might feel like.
  • Demonstrate how you observe the objects in the collection and sort them based on how they are alike. For instance, a mouse and a cat have fur. A flower and a tree do not.

Guided Practice/Interactive Modeling

  • Invite your students to sit in groups. Give each group a set of pictures with various breeds of dogs. Have students sort the dogs based on their characteristics.
  • Rotate around the room to observe your students as they work. Each student should check in with you once they feel that they are finished sorting and classifying their dogs.
  • Ask students to choose ONE attribute they have observed in a small collection of dogs (i.e. a few of the dogs are small, a few are short, a few have short legs, etc.)
  • Ask students to create a name for the collection. For instance, if the student chose a group of short dogs they might name it “Short Dogs.”
  • Using resources on, have students review their groups and identify each breed. They should then determine if the collections they created match the 7 AKC groups.

Review and Closing

  • Tell the students that scientists are always thinking about how things can be grouped together.
  • When we are looking closely at something, or observing, we can always think about how things can be grouped together according to how they look and feel.
  • This helps scientists understand the world around them.
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