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Properties Everywhere

  • Lesson
Data Analysis and Probability
Grace M. Burton
Location: unknown

This lesson captures students’ interest, provides a review of the primary unit objectives and assesses students’ prior knowledge. This experience focuses students’ attention on the attributes of objects and rules for sorting them while building vocabulary for describing attributes and for classifying objects.

While students remain in their seats, ask them to identify things within the classroom that can be sorted and to name specific attributes to guide the sorting. Some examples students might suggest are the following:

  • Things to sort by color: crayons, markers, papers, hair color, eye color, backpacks, and clothes
  • Things to sort by shape: tables, books, blocks
  • Things to sort by size: books, students, pencils, and shoes.

Record and post this information on a chart for future reference. The format provided on the Objects to Sort recording sheet will familiarize students with the recording format.


Give small groups of students bowls of crayons or sets of pencils to sort. Students may sort them by such categories such as color, length, with or without a paper covering, and with or without an eraser.

Discuss with students their various rules for sorting. Ask them to explain and defend their choices. Invite students to draw a picture of this sorting activity on the sheet entitled “Objects to Sort.” (These recordings enable the teacher to see which attributes students frequently attend to and provide information for instructional decisions and about students’ progress toward learning goals.)

  • Chart paper
  • Bowls of crayons or sets of pencils to sort
  • Objects to Sort recording sheet
  • Labels
  • Felt squares
  • Small zip top bags
  • Transparent container
  • Overhead projector
  • Transparency of Button Graph
  • Transparency of Graph Grid
  • Tub of buttons (various colors, shapes, sizes)
  • White construction paper
  • Small bowls for each working group
  • Collection of pencils and other items to sort
  • Blank paper for recording The Button Box by Margarette Reid
  • Teacher Assessment Tools


1. At this stage of the unit it is important to know:

  • properties students attend to;/uploadedFiles/Content/Lessons/Resources/preK-2/271-AS-classnotes.p
  • whether students can sort using only one or more than one property;
  • whether students can sort the same set of objects in multiple ways;
  • and so forth.

2. The guiding questions help students focus on the mathematics and aid you in understanding the students’ level of knowledge and skill with the mathematical concepts of this lesson. One of the assessment tools provided is a recording sheet entitled Status of the Class recording sheet. It is helpful to record students’ current level of understanding as a way to plan instruction and to monitor and measure their growth toward meeting the learning objectives. Documenting information about students’ understanding throughout the lesson can help you focus on each student’s needs and strengths and thus increase students’ learning opportunities.

3. The assessment information you collected can help you to monitor students’ learning, adjust instruction, and plan future lessons for the class. Data on individual students can be used to plan strategies for regrouping students, remediation, and extension activities. This information is extremely useful when discussing progress toward learning goals with students, caregivers, administrators, and colleagues.


Many students in the early grades will need multiple sorting experiences. You may wish to ask students to use these procedures as they sort other objects such as small toys, models of vegetables or fruits, jewelry, keys, tops for containers, bread clips, and coins.

 Questions for Students
  1. What kinds of shoes do you have at your house? (Encourage students to look at their own shoes and think about shoes they have at home such as dress shoes, mom’s high-heeled shoes, basketball shoes, slippers, and sandals.)
  2. What was your rule for sorting? Why did you choose it?
  3. Could you use one other rule that is different from the one you used?
  4. Could you use more than one property or attribute for sorting?
  5. What things could you sort at home? (Students might name toys, clothes, groceries, shoes, etc.)
  6. Do you sort objects at home by where they belong? If so, where? Answers might include the pantry, drawers, toy chest, and so forth.
Teacher Reflection
  1. Which management strategies were most effective?
  2. Which management strategies were least effective?
  3. Which students met all the objectives of this lesson? What extension activities are appropriate for those students?
  4. Which students did not meet the objectives of this lesson? What instructional experiences do they need next? What mathematical ideas need clarification?
  5. What adjustments would you make the next time you teach this lesson?
Data Analysis and Probability

Grandma's Button Box

In this lesson, students have opportunities to identify properties and to sort, classify, organize, and display data. They solve problems and make, explain, and defend conjectures. They extend their knowledge by making generalizations and consolidating their thinking.
Data Analysis and Probability

Alike and Different

This lesson focuses on the observation of properties and the classification of objects to build ideas about variables. Students compare objects to identify similarities and differences. In addition, students are introduced to Venn Diagrams.
Data Analysis and Probability

Naming Rows and Columns

In this lesson, the teacher models how to organize data and use the vocabulary associated with collecting, organizing, and displaying data. Students learn the difference between rows and columns, how to label and select a title for graphs, and what comparative terms to use to describe relationships between and among the various sets of buttons.
Data Analysis and Probability

Show and Tell

This lesson allows students to describe their graphs using appropriate vocabulary and to develop skills in posing and responding to questions about their graphs. Students also demonstrate an understanding of how to organize and interpret data. In addition, this lesson helps students move from the concrete through pictorial to abstract representations of displays of data, namely a graph.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Identify how items are sorted by color, size, type and shape
  • Formulate questions based upon these data

Common Core State Standards – Mathematics

-Kindergarten, Measurement & Data

  • CCSS.Math.Content.K.MD.B.3
    Classify objects into given categories; count the numbers of objects in each category and sort the categories by count.

Grade 1, Measurement & Data

  • CCSS.Math.Content.1.MD.C.4
    Organize, represent, and interpret data with up to three categories; ask and answer questions about the total number of data points, how many in each category, and how many more or less are in one category than in another.

Grade 1, Geometry

  • CCSS.Math.Content.1.G.A.1
    Distinguish between defining attributes (e.g., triangles are closed and three-sided) versus non-defining attributes (e.g., color, orientation, overall size) ; build and draw shapes to possess defining attributes.

Common Core State Standards – Practice

  • CCSS.Math.Practice.MP7
    Look for and make use of structure.
  • CCSS.Math.Practice.MP8
    Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.