K.1.2.1 Practice of Engineering

Nature of Science & Engineering
The Practice of Engineering
Standard K.1.2.1

Some objects occur in nature; others have been designed and processed by people.

Benchmark: K. Comparing Natural & Human Made

Sort objects into two groups: those that are found in nature and those that are human made.

For example: Cars, pencils, trees, rocks.


Standard in Lay Terms 

MN Standard in lay terms: Students need to be able to make observations to determine if objects are made in nature or made by humans.

Big Ideas and Essential Understandings 

Big Idea: Students need to be able to observe a group of items; describe the items; understand that some things are nature made and others are human made; know that a change happens in some things to make them human made from nature made; and be able to sort the items into two groups (nature made and human made). 

Benchmark Cluster 

MN Standard Benchmarks: Sort objects into two groups: those that are found in nature and those that are human made.  K.


This is an interactive sorting game that can be used to introduce the standard.  It will also give the teacher a pre-assessment for student understanding:

BBC School Science Clips

  • NSES Standards:

Objects have many observable properties, including size, weight, shape, color, temperature, and the ability to react with other substances.  Those properties can be measured using tools such as rulers, balances, and thermometers. (p. 127)

Objects are made of one or more materials such as paper, wood, and metal.  Objects can be described by the properties of the materials from which they are made, and those properties can be used to separate or sort a group of objects or materials. (p. 127)


  • AAAS Atlas:

Objects can be described in terms of the materials they are made of (clay, cloth, paper, etc.) and their physical properties (color, size, shape, weight, texture, flexibility, etc.). 4D/1

AAAS Atlas

People may not be able to actually make or do everything that they can design. 3B/1 The Nature of Technology: Designed systems

The Mathematical World: Describing Change

Things change in some ways and stay the same in some ways.  11C/1

  • Benchmarks of Science Literacy

Common Themes: Constancy and Change

Things change in some ways and stay the same in some ways. (p. 272)

Things can change in different ways, such as in size, weight, color, and movement.  Some small changes can be detected by taking measurements. (p. 272)

Common Core Standards

Math Standard: Geometry and Measurement: Recognize and sort basic two- and three-dimensional shapes; use them to model real-world objects. K.3.1.2: Sort, classify, and order objects by size, number, and other properties and describe the attributes used.


Student Misconceptions 
  • Things can be done to materials to change some of their properties, but not all materials respond the same way to what is done to them.  4D/P2 NSDL Science Literacy Map
  • Lower elementary school students fail to conserve the weight and volume of objects that change shape.  When an object's appearance changes in several dimensions, they can focus on only one.  They cannot imagine a reversed or restored condition and focus mostly on the object's present appearance.  NSDL Science Literacy Map


Set up a discovery center in the classroom (or more discovery centers, if many children are to be involved at a time).  Include in the discovery center objects commonly found in nature: leaves, twigs, feathers, shells, (objects relevant to the school's area) as well as magnets, microscopes, blocks, legos, plastic toys, plastic counting cubes etc.  The students will need time to interact or "play" with the objects and talk with each other about what they observe.  Students will most likely start to organize the objects in some way.  After one or two time periods, begin to guide the students' thinking.  Start by asking low level questions.  "What do you see?  Feel?  Hear?  Smell?"  Then lead the children to higher level thinking by asking higher level questions, step by step.  "Is there anything the same about these items?  Different?  Where do you think these items came from?  How do you know?  What led you to that answer?  What do you already know that helped you come up with your answer?  Where do you think these items came from?  What are they made of?  How do you know?  Did anyone group the objects?  How did you group them?  What made you group them in that way?"  Continue to guide the students through many levels of questioning. 


Instructional Notes 

Instructional suggestions/options; examples of best practices with a focus on active engagement practices.

This standard should be taught after or in conjunction with Minnesota Standard K. Objects can be be described in terms of the materials they are made of and their physical properties.

This standard can also be used to meet the Minnesota Standard K.1.1.2 - Scientific inquiry is a set of interrelated processes used to pose questions about the natural world and investigate phenomena.

Use these resources to integrate the nature and process of science into your teaching.

Teacher's Lounge

Keys to Inquiry

Science songs for all concepts and topics.Science Songs


Sorting Counts by:  Henry Pluckrose

The Three Little FireFighters  by: Stuart Murphy

Five Creatures  by: Emily Jenkins

Dave's Down to Earth Rock Shop by: Stuart Murphy

Sorting  by: Lynn Peppas

Let's Sort  by: David Bauer

Instructional Resources 

Additional resources or links:

Use these resources to integrate the nature and process of science into your teaching.

Teacher's Lounge


Sorting Counts   by:  Henry Pluckrose

The Three Little FireFighters  by: Stuart Murphy

Five Creatures  by: Emily Jenkins

Dave's Down to Earth Rock Shop by: Stuart Murphy

Sorting  by: Lynn Peppas

Let's Sort  by: David Bauer

This is a great resource for teachers to gain insight on how students think. 

The Power of Children's Thinking by Karen Worth:

Children's Thinking

Selected activities:

**This standard should be taught after or in conjunction with Minnesota Science Standard K. Objects can be be described in terms of the materials they are made of and their physical properties. It can also be used to meet the Minnesota Science Standard K.1.1.2 - Scientific inquiry is a set of interrelated processes used to pose questions about the natural world and investigate phenomena.

This is a quick lesson to introduce the meanings of nature-made and man-made.

Nature Made vs. Man-Made Lesson

This lesson take students on a  tour of the classroom to observe and label nature made and man made objects and practice sorting them.

Classroom Tour

This lesson extends the meaning of nature made and man made by doing investigations/explorations on various objects.  These simple investigations/explorations will give more information on objects which will give students a better understanding of nature made and man made.


This lesson would be a great was to assess the students on whether they can sort objects by if the items are nature made or man made.

Sorting Lesson

The Foss Wood and Paper Kits - The lessons in these units on changing wood and changing paper give students the opportunity to actually change nature made items into man made items.  These hands on lessons really give students a deeper understanding.  If you do not have the kits you can get the lessons online below.

Wood and Paper

This lesson would be a great ending or higher level lesson to use after students have had experience with nature made and human made items. Students will sort items found on a beach from a bucket into two groups - nature made and human made.  This lesson will offer another step by asking the students how they think the items came to become part of the beach and it also offers many extension lessons as well.

Beach Buckets

There are a variety of lessons for learning about and sorting nature made and man-made things.

Sorting Nature-made and Man-Made Objects

These lessons will go into more depth about how people can change nature made things and how we can group these items. Many mini lessons to choose from.     

Mini lessons

New Vocabulary 


  • Sorting:  putting objects into groups by like characteristics
  • Natural:  Something from natural world that has not been changed or altered
  • Man-made/artificial:  Made by humans rather than occurring in nature
  • Change: to make or cause something to be different
Technology Connections 

This web based sorting activity allows children to sort objects according to what they are made of.

Sorting site

This short article, along with the photos, will help your child learn which objects are        natural and which are made or designed by people.

Short Sorting Article

Learn about things that are natural and those that are man-made.

Natural and Man-Made

Cross Curricular Connections 

Brick by Brick: In this 4-6 day great interdisciplinary( science, reading, writing, art) unit students create, experiment with, and describe their experiences related to making adobe bricks. Using "The Three Little Pigs," students identify bricks as a strong man-made material; they also ask and answer questions about building materials and differentiate between man-made and natural materials. They experiment with making adobe bricks. Finally, they draw and label pictures and write about their experiences and their conclusions.

Brick by Brick Unit



This is a lesson that will assess if a child can name what is nature made and human made. Children can cut out the the pictures and sort them into a nature made or made made. It could also be used as a pre-assessment to see what students already know.


Using a rubric during observation along with a checklist for each student during the lessons is a good way to monitor progress and understanding if this standard.


Just beginning


Below grade level


At grade level


Exceeds grade level

Beginning to understand the concept or standard: relies on teacher support

Developing skills concept or standard with varied performance, needs continued practice and some support from the teacher

Demonstrates secure, consistent understanding of the concept or standard without teacher support; works independently and consistently

Exemplary performance of skills well beyond grade level, insightful responses


3 questions designed to probe teachers understanding of concepts. Questions could be used as self-reflection or in professional development sessions.

  • What do my students need to know and understand about the standard?
  • What are the misconceptions that children have about sorting and how will make sure they are corrected? (Make sure teacher understands the misconceptions that the children have for self understanding and how to correct them) - If so where can you find the information?

Atlas for Science Literacy

Benchmarks for Science Literacy

National Academies Press

  • How will I know when they do understand and what will I do if they do not understand? What will I do if they already understand this concept?
  • Ask yourself 3 questions: What do my students already know about this standard (Did I use a preassessment?) What will I do if my students do not know the information? What will I do if my students already know and understand the information?
  • How did I use inquiry in my lessons? (See Minnesota Standard K. - Scientific Inquiry...)
  • What worked well and what should I change?


If observing a lesson on this standard what might they expect to see.

○     Teacher should act as a guide. The teacher should be asking many questions; answering a question with a question guiding the student to find the answer to his/her own questions.

                                     ■The science teacher must have the content knowledge and the pedagogical content knowledge necessary to deliver their instruction effectively and in an engaging way. A good science teacher uses a variety of methods to effectively deliver the content to various population groups. Some researchers have found that pedagogical content knowledge and organizational skill in the planning and development of the lessons are qualities that good teachers have. (Tytler, R. and Waldrip, B. (2004). International Journal of Science Education. 26 (2), 171‐194.) The objective should be clearly stated, the level of questioning should be at all levels.

                                     ■Student science achievement and student interest in science subjects and careers will improve if teachers consistently use research-based instructional practices, materials, and assessments so that each student:

●     Reveals preconceptions, initial reasoning, and beliefs;

●     Is intellectually engaged;

●     Uses evidence to generate explanations;

●     Communicates and critiques their scientific ideas and the ideas of others;

●     Makes sense of the learning experience and draws appropriate understandings;

●     Makes connections between new and existing scientific concepts by understanding and organizing facts and information in new ways; and

●     Reflects on how personal understanding has changed over time and recognizes cognitive processes that lead to changes. Observation Protocol

●     To observe inquiry in lesson students should should be able to form a question, make a plan, do the investigation, record and report, reflect, revisit, and plan again, if needed.


Struggling Learners 

Struggling and At-Risk:

Many strategies and suggestions for special education or ELL students could be used for struggling or at risk students. The pre-teaching of the vocabulary or content using visuals or hands on experiences prior to the whole class lesson helps the students stay focused on the lesson and students find they will be able to share information.

English Language Learners 

Like special education students, some ELL students need to have vocabulary and concepts taught in small groups before whole group content lessons are taught. The use of pictures with vocabulary and content is very helpful.  Research shows it is helpful to have vocabulary or content taught in the students first language before having it taught in English.  Here are a few other helpful tips.

Students should work in groups when possible to solve problems or conduct experiments. Provide many hands-on experiences as ELL students learn best by doing and seeing lessons.

Show ELL students at all proficiency levels a sample of a completed project or assignment

Have students compile notebooks or science journals

Have students prepare collections of science objects, such as sticks and leaves.

Use "hands-on" experiential activities that do not rely on academic language for understanding

Prepare large charts that summarize the steps involved in experiments.

Ideas from: ELL resource

Extending the Learning 


Gifted and Talented Modules for E-learning Leading Teachers: E-learning modules for Gifted and Talented (G&T) leading teachers provide opportunities to reflect on G&T issues and approaches to addressing them, to practise strategies which have been found to be effective and to develop action plans for your own context. The modules also provide links to a range of resources and exemplification. Module 1: Teaching and learning, is part of the gap task between face-to-face training provided by LAs.

Other modules cover identification, leadership, good practice, working with parents and carers, transfer and transition, learners with particular needs, learning beyond the classroom, career development, Early Years Foundation Stage, Key Stages 1 and 2, primary science, English, mathematics, secondary science, music, PE and sport and EAL.

Primary Science Module :This module will examine using a high degree of challenge to benefit all pupils, including the gifted; how to increase challenge and encourage higher order thinking through discussion, scientific enquiry and focused recording as well as how to map classroom outcomes to the Institutional Quality Standards (IQS) and Classroom Quality Standards (CQS).                          

If students already show that they know and understand this concept they should be able to do a small independent or partner study.

The student can choose to do a study comparing/contrasting things from nature and man made things.  Using a Venn Diagram tell what makes them the same/different.

The student could invent a new environment by using what they learned or know about nature made and man made objects. They could illustrate, make a model, label the environment, and write a description of it. 

The student could invent a new man made object from a natural object and illustrate, write or tell how the change happened.


Pictures, photos, objects used in the lessons should encompass a wide variety of items from around the world.  For example if you are using or showing various plants, animals, or people find those that are from around the world.  Use  of books that show a wide variety of pictures of people, animals, habitats, plants etc from all over the world.

Find the nearest Multicultural Center for lots of information about cultures around the world.  Here are a few websites of multicultural centers.

Northwest SUburban Multicultural Center

St. Paul Schools Multicultural Resource Center

Special Education 

There are many different kinds of special education students.  Depending on the students special education needs some need pre-teaching of the vocabulary or content prior to the whole class lesson, preferably using visuals.  This helps the students stay focused on the lesson and students find they will be able to share information. 



This is a fun interactive site that families can do together for some fun science learning.

Dynamo's Lab

Foss Website: Parent Resources: Home/School Connections:

FossHome/School Connection


Thank you

I gain knowledge on how to use STEM in teaching young children from reading your web. Appreciate your team effort.