Sorting stones in the outdoor classroom

We set up these recycled silver ware trays in our outdoor classroom for our students to explore sorting painted stones.

We prompted our students with one simple question: How can you sort the stones? This is all the direction that was given for this activity and we enjoyed observing where the students took this question! These trays were originally found as silver ware trays but we love using them for graphing, sorting, matching, and counting. For the rocks, we found some that were laying around in the yard and spray painted them all different colors. These rocks also make great loose part math items.

Finding the Trays

You could easily just set the rocks and trays out, but we decided to add some kitchen tongs! Can you tell we like shopping in the kitchen section? These larger tongs force the students to use their whole hand or both hands since their hands are so little. This activity is great at promoting hand eye coordination and large motor development!

Our Observations

Most of our older students were able to take this activity in their own direction. If you have younger students you could add dot stickers to create a pattern guide. This could also be a great way to help work on color recognition.

This activity also promotes a lot of conversation among the children. While doing this activity we heard them discussing how they would sort their stones, what pattern they would make, what colors they would use, and some even explained why they were choosing their colors!

All in all, this a fun and simple activity to add to your day! It’s amazing that such a simple activity can promote so much learning!


Links to grow on…

More on loose parts can be found here!


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Deborah J Stewart

Deborah J Stewart

Every time I think I know everything I need to know about teaching young children, God says, "Hold on a minute!" and gives me a new challenge.

Let me tell ya...

With each new challenge that you overcome, you will find yourself better equipped and more passionate about teaching young children.

God didn't call wimps to lead, teach, or care for His children. Nope, he has high expectations, so get ready. You will have to give your very best but after teaching for over 30 years, I can tell you that it is a wonderful and rewarding journey.

Whenever your calling feels hard, just remember, 'He who began a good work in you (and in the children you serve) will be faithful to complete it.'

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