Simple science activities like these fit perfectly on my preschool science table in my classroom. But they work wonderfully on a rug or larger table too. I like doing sorting activities like this during free choice or center time because it gives me a chance to talk to the children to connect with the subject (or something completely different) and see where they are at with the ideas presented. The point of this activity isn’t to make sure children can sort every object perfectly; it’s an opportunity to have a conversation about objects and animals and make observations. For older kids you can make this a silly challenge. As my 5-year-old was sorting I was shouting out “Ambulances can move, they must be alive!” but only do this with kids that are well versed in the actual concept.
Gather your materials, you will need a bunch of manipulative objects, some of living things like plants, animals, and human figurines; some inanimate objects like cars, buildings, etc…, three containers for sorting, some post-its, and a marker.
Write living and not living on the post-its and pop them on the containers. Dump all the objects in the remaining container together and let your child at it. My daughter can read well enough to read these signs. However, with younger children, I would sort a few to start with as a scaffold.
I had her giggling while doing this. But as I mentioned earlier in a classroom, I would observe, engage and let the child’s observations or conclusions about this activity lead the way. If the child were confused and wanted help, I would ask if I could have a turn and let them observe me think through the sorting. Then ask something like “Do you have a dog at your house?” and use their experiences to help solve this puzzle. This activity should be fun and challenging but not confusing or frustrating.
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If you like this preschool science activity, you will love the ideas and circle time lessons I share in Little School my eBook of preschool activities.