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Preschool Science Activity: Collecting Specimens

written by: Kathy Foust • edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom • updated: 3/2/2012

A vital part of science and math comes in the form of collecting and sorting data. This preschool science activity will introduce preschoolers to the concept of collecting as well as sorting into like groups.

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    Objective and Prior Learning

    The objective of this activity is to teach children about the first step in the scientific process, which is observation. Students will be collecting and sorting items that they are interested in with the guidance of their parents and teachers. Not only will this help in developing their science skills, it is also a great way to develop math skills in a fun and entertaining way that the students will love.

    To use this lesson plan to develop math skills, you may want to precede it with a lesson on counting and grouping. To do this, pass out 20 small items such as buttons to each student. Ask the children to count out five buttons and separate them from the group. Ask them to repeat this process until they have counted out their buttons. Then, show the children how to count by fives to see how many buttons they have altogether.

    While the parents should not do the collecting for the students, they can participate in the project by taking students to places where they will be able to collect their items. Before describing this activity to the students, please send the letter that is included with this lesson plan home so that parents are aware of the activity and what you need from them.

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    Collecting and Sorting

    After receiving the items needed back from parents, you are ready to begin this lesson. Ask students if there is anything they collect at home. If not, ask them if there is anything they would like to collect. Encourage students to focus on small items that are easily transported. Talk with students about why they are interested in the items they collect or would like to collect. Ask about specific characteristics of the items.

    Explain to students that they will be doing a science activity that involves collecting items. Explain that the items must be small. Use some of the suggestions below to interest students and give them an idea of what they will be collecting. Discuss what tools, if any, may need to be used when gathering items for the collection.

    • rocks
    • marbles
    • leaves
    • bugs
    • beads

    Give the students a week to gather their collection. Through the week, talk about grouping like items. You can practice this by asking students to group themselves according to being a boy or a girl or even group themselves according to what color they are wearing. At the end of the week, when the students return with their collection, ask all students to sit down with their collections and take them out of the container. What are some things the items in the collection have in common? What are some things that the items vary in? Ask students to divide their collection in the egg carton according to similarities, such as size or color. It is likely that you will have to help each student to properly divide their items and possibly even help them decided what factors they should be focusing on, but allow students to express their own ideas and opinions on these factors.

    Once the items have been grouped accordingly, allow students to show the rest of the class their collection and explain why they divided the collection as they did. If students have similar collections, be sure to talk about how they were divided in similar or different ways.

    Preschool science activities that involve collections are a great way for students to brush up on math and science skills and develop healthy hobbies at the same time!

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    Letter to Parents

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