Flower Sorting Discovery Tray

Spring is in full swing and there a re beautiful flowers blooming everywhere!  Taking apart flowers and plants are a great way to explore the different parts that make up plants.  Set up this EASY Flower Sorting Discovery tray with either store bought flowers, flowers/plants from the yard, or flowers/plants from a nature walk.  Add a magnifying glass and some tweezers for some extra fun!

Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

  • assortment of flowers, whole and broken into parts (sunflowers are great!)
  • seeds, roots, stems, leaves, flowers
  • magnifying glasses (optional but so fun for the kids!)
  • trays or plates to contain the mess

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Set up a tray with the following labels: roots, stems, leaves, and petals, along with a magnifying glass.  I placed a sunflower on each tray to get the kids started.

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Invite them to sort through the plant parts and ask them why they sorted them the way they did.  Kids often interchange sticks and stems. Discuss how there are different shapes and sizes of leaves.  Have them tell you the colors of the petals.  Count the petals on the flowers or the leaves on the stem for a math extension.  This activity is great for the youngest toddlers and the older preschoolers and kindergarteners.

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Science behind the activity:

Kids love to sort and there is something exceptionally fun about being able to take something apart that you are not usually allowed to do.  It also gives them a chance to freely explore, make their own connections with the plants and sort all the parts.  Young children LOVE to sort.  Older ones love counting.  It’s also a great sensory activity where they can touch and smell the plants.

For more Plant Science activities, try the following:

Extensions:

Take your tots out for a nature walk and have them collect parts of plants.  Especially after a good rain, it was fun for my boys to pull weeds from the yard and see the roots.  Then sort the treasures collected on the nature walk.  When the kids are done dissecting and sorting the plant/flower parts, use the petals and leaves and sticks to create your own art project by making a Nature Suncatcher or just an art activity.

Here’s an easy suncatcher we made with plants and flowers pressed in between 2 sheets of contact paper:

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Click on the link for more details and to see where I got my idea from: http://scrumdillydo.blogspot.com/2014/07/investigating-plants-and-flowers.html

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Magnetic Basket of Eggs

I’ve been wanting to incorporate magnets into my rotation of activities but wasn’t quite sure how to do it.  Then I stumbled upon this idea with plastic easter eggs and I tested it with my littlest one and he LOVED it!  The tots in the class enjoyed it as well and so now, it’s time to share it with everyone!  And it’s a great use for all those plastic eggs you have leftover after the egg hunts!

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • Plastic Eggs (I used 8/child in my class)
  • Magnetic wands (I got mine from Lakeshore Learning, a local school supply store) OR a strong magnet from your fridge
  • Magnetic objects that fit in the eggs (I used: nuts and washers, paperclips, magnetic chips and metal jingle bells)
  • Non-magnetic objects that fit in the eggs (I used: uncooked macaroni, rocks, pennies and beads)
  • Easter basket
  • Ice cube tray or muffin tin for sorting objectsIMG_5667

To set up:

I placed a few objects in each egg so that they made a fun noise when shaken.  To keep myself organized, I placed all the pennies in pink eggs, all the pasta in the yellow eggs and so on to ensure all the students had eggs with all the different objects in them.

Add the eggs to a small Easter basket.  Provide a magnetic wand and a sorting tray, either an ice cube tray or muffin tin works great! (If you don’t have a fancy magnetic wand like mine, grab a strong magnet from the fridge!  I know you have those letter magnets on your fridge!)

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To play/investigate:

I just left the basket of eggs with the wand and the tray and allowed the tots to investigate on their own.  All sorts of amazing investigations happened when they were left to make up their own “rules”.

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Some opened the eggs up right away and dumped it all out.IMG_5532

Others shook the eggs and put them back in the basket.

Some mixed the eggs in the basket with the wand like a soup.

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Once the tots realized some eggs “stuck” to the wand, the others got curious and started “sticking” eggs to their wands.IMG_5566

As the contents of the eggs were emptied out, the objects started to “stick” to the wand too!  Wow!

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Some objects did not stick to the wand, no matter how much they tried.

Some sorted by “sticky” objects.IMG_5553

Others sorted by the type of object.

IMG_5565Other didn’t sort at all but counted instead!

SO MANY different ways to play and experiment and lots of learning going on with no directions from adults!

My littlest one spent many hours testing out different ways to play before I set this up for my class.  That’s how I knew to be prepared for everything to get all mixed up at the end.

NOTE: If setting up for a class, I recommend pre-filling ALL the eggs and placing in a separate bag for each child.  I also provided 2 dump bins: one for empty eggs and one for the contents.

Science Behind the Activity:

There is so much learning to be had in this activity!  Just the discovery that the eggs are magnetic (“sticky”) is huge!  By shaking the eggs, they can make predictions about what is inside.  By sorting, they can discover which items are magnetic and which are not.  For older kids, they might notice that the “sticky” items are all metal items.  Sorting and counting are fantastic for young kids to order and organize their thoughts and discoveries.

Here’s where I got my magnetic idea from: http://www.modernpreschool.com/2015/03/magnet-science-with-plastic-eggs.html

Garbage Sorting

In honor of Earth Day, I figured it was time to really show the superheroes (and the Tiny Tots in my classes) how to separate and sort our garbage so that we can reuse as much of our waste as possible.  Here is an EASY activity to get together in 5 minutes!

Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

  • garbage of all sorts: I used: banana/orange peels, wrappers, napkins, paper, water bottles, glass bottles, bottle caps, plastic bags, aluminum cans, cardboard boxes, etc…

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  • 3 bins with labels: recycling, compost, garbage (I printed images from the internet since most of the Tiny Tots can’t read yet
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Garbage

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Food waste/Compost

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Recycling

I gave the bin of mixed garbage to the Tiny Tots and they had to sort the garbage out.  As they sorted, I discussed why they made the choices they did and corrected them if they were off track.

IMG_1573Some of the parents in my Tiny Tot classes learned a thing or two about recycling (Did you know that most bottle caps are NOT recyclable even though the water bottles are?)

The recycling bin was the fullest!

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Next was the compost/food waste bin

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The smallest was the garbage bin, headed for the landfill.

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That’s IT!  So easy!  Just grab your own garbage and sort away!

 Explanation:

Young kids love to sort!  This is a great way to practice sorting skills and also learn how to recycle and reuse our waste.  If you’re lucky, this might encourage them to clean up after themselves… one can only hope!