Weighing and exploring acorns in preschool

It seems we have more than our share of acorns on the ground around here so collecting and using acorns for math and other content areas in our classroom is a given…


We filled our alphabet jars with acorns this week then set them out for the children to explore. At this table, the children used their fine motor skills and tweezers to explore the acorns…

Each week, as the year progresses, the children will find something new in the alphabet jars – this week it was acorns…

As the children used tweezers to explore the acorns, I learned that the type of tweezer you choose to set out for any given activity needs to be carefully considered…

Some tweezers are better for small objects and some are better for larger objects.  I have several different types of tweezers and depending on what the activity is, I am finding that I often have to change out the type of tweezers so the process is more doable for the children…

Later in our morning, the children spent time weighing and counting and writing as they explored the acorns…

I set out a basket of acorns, scales, pencils, clipboards, and paper…

As the children played with the acorns and other supplies, we talked about how the scales have numbers on them and how the numbers on the scales go up or down depending on how heavy things are…

I also drew simple graphing type lines of some of our pieces of paper. The children used the graph paper to record “data” as they explored the acorns…

And the children sorted and counted acorns on the graph as well…

But the biggest part of this process was not the exploration of acorns but the exploration of scales. The children had to figure out how to get the cups or bowls to balance on each type of scale, how to read the numbers on the scales, what the scales do, how to make the scales go up or down, and all of this was done by letting the children freely manipulate and explore the acorns and scales and dropping by at times to answer questions or facilitate conversation…

The discovery table was a busy place all throughout our center time with children exploring and examining the materials they were given to use…

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By |2012-09-17T18:00:11+00:00September 17th, 2012|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Km September 18, 2012 at 8:04 am - Reply

    Your pictures and words always remind me how magical the process of learning can be!!! Thank you! I need to go hunt for acorns now!!! Xoxox

  2. Megan @ CoffeeCupsandCrayons September 18, 2012 at 9:51 am - Reply

    I love acorns and miss not having as many around now that we live in Tampa–we’ll have to go on a hunt at the park this afternoon!

  3. Doreen September 18, 2012 at 10:17 am - Reply

    Hi Deborah, Can you tell me a little more about your alphabet jars? Do you only explore one type of item that begins with the letter. I see you did that with the acorns. I would love to see more posts on the other jar letters as you move into the alphabet. Thanks so much for sharing.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 19, 2012 at 12:34 am - Reply

      Hi Doreen,
      The alphabet jars are coming up soon. I wanted to get a few underway before I posted more so that I would have a few photos to give a better idea of how they work. But they are really simple!

  4. Amanda September 18, 2012 at 12:41 pm - Reply

    I love this! I want to come to your preschool 🙂

  5. Mary September 18, 2012 at 3:20 pm - Reply

    Great counting, and fun activity. Thank you for sharing.

  6. School Sparks Renee September 18, 2012 at 3:56 pm - Reply

    What a great lesson. I live in Columbus, so my B jar would have Buckeyes in it!! As always, your students seem active and engaged. Renee

  7. Daycare diva September 20, 2012 at 7:19 pm - Reply

    Love this! The jars blocking the children’s view of the letter item is a great idea. We have a ton of acorns AND those very same mason jars left over from last Christmas. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Robin S. September 28, 2012 at 7:57 am - Reply

    I am assuming these jars are like the jelly jars you buy for canning, what about breaking issues with children? I just worry about the children getting hurt. I love the concept and idea of these though.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 28, 2012 at 10:38 pm - Reply

      Hi Robin,
      You can use any type of jar you like – it doesn’t have to be a mason jar – this is just what we had on hand. However, in our outdoor classroom, the floors are soft wooden floors and for some reason the jars do not break when they fall on this floor. Now if they fall in our outdoor classroom, they will break and we have had a few break in the past. What I do is teach the children to keep their jar on their tray, when we are indoors, so they will not accidentally knock it off on our floor. The children learn quickly to be careful with the jars, to take care of them, and to keep them where they won’t get knocked off the table.

      • Robin S. September 29, 2012 at 12:24 pm

        Thank you for replying so quick. I would love to see all of your Alphabet jars if this is possible. I sure wish I lived closer to you, so I could shadow your preschool for a day or two. I have learned a lot from your site.
        Thanks again for being great with children…..

      • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 29, 2012 at 5:53 pm

        Wouldn’t that be fun Robin! I would love to have you – but you would quickly see that we are just like others – knocking jars off the table and all:) The alphabet jars are new for use this year – so far we have done four of them. I will share them this week so you can see what we have done so far. Let me pull the photos together:)

  9. Robin S. September 30, 2012 at 11:44 am - Reply

    Thank you


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