K.2.1.1 Physical Properties

Physical Science
Standard K.2.1.1

Objects can be described in terms of the materials they are made of and their physical properties.

Benchmark: K. Sorting & Reasoning

Sort objects in terms of color, size, shape, and texture, and communicate reasoning for the sorting system.


Standard in Lay Terms 

MN Standard in Lay Terms

Students will be able to tell what objects look like using describing words but also be able to tell or describe what they are made of.

Big Ideas and Essential Understandings 

Big Idea

During their early years, children's natural curiosity leads them to explore the world by observing and manipulating common objects and materials in their environment. Children compare, describe, and sort as they begin to form explanations of the world. Developing a subject-matter knowledge base to explain and predict the world requires many experiences over a long period. Young children bring experiences, understanding, and ideas to school; teachers provide opportunities to continue children's explorations in focused settings with other children using simple tools, such as magnifiers and measuring devices. Physical science in grades K-4 includes topics that give students a chance to increase their understanding of the characteristics of objects and materials that they encounter daily. Through the observation, manipulation, and classification of common objects, children reflect on the similarities and differences of the objects. As a result, their initial sketches and single-word descriptions lead to increasingly more detailed drawings and richer verbal descriptions. Describing, grouping, and sorting solid objects and materials is possible early in this grade range.

National Science Education Standards (NSES)

Benchmark Cluster 

MN Standard Benchmarks:

K.  Sort objects in terms of color, size, shape, and texture, and communicate reasoning for the sorting system.

The Essentials

Two short video clips from Sesame Street which shows various ways to sort  objects.

Seasame Street video 1

Seasame Street video 2

  • NSES Standards:

Physical Science

Content Standard B

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.

  • AAAS Atlas:

Describe and compare things in terms of their number, shape, texture, size, weight, color, and motion.

The Physical Setting: Chemical reactions

  • Benchmarks of Science Literacy

Habits of Mind: Communication Skills

Describe and compare real-world objects in terms of number, shape, texture, size, weight, color, and motion. 12D/P1 

Common Core Standards

Math Standard: Strand - Geometry and Measurement - Standard - Recognize and sort basic two- and three- dimensional shapes; use them to model real- world objects. Benchmark - K.3.1.2 - Sort objects using characteristics such as shape, size, color and thickness.


Student Misconceptions 

The five senses are infallible.     (Hapkiewicz, A. (1992). Finding a List of Science Misconceptions. MSTA Newsletter, 38 (Winter '92), pp.11-14.)

The primary focus of a kindergartner is to please the teacher. They may struggle to distinguish between fantasy and reality. Some may explain cause and effect through intuition rather than logic. Understanding Science 101


The teacher gives each student a group of objects commonly found in any classroom. The items that you choose for sorting could relate to some other topic or content that you teach.For instance, small manipulatives such as dinosaurs, bears, shells, rocks, and buttons. Have the students observe all the items in front of them. Give them enough time to "play" or interact with the objects.  Then the teacher will ask the students to describe the objects:  color, size, shape, texture, property (wood, plastic, metal, etc.) " What can you tell me about these objects? What do you observe (see, hear, feel...) Students will give answers. The teacher will say, "Find the red items and put them in a group in front of you."  Give a few minutes to do this.  "Who can tell me what is the same about the items?  (red color).  We just grouped or sorted items by finding the objects that were the same color. Today we are going to see if we can find different ways (not just by color) to group or sort these same objects.  I will ask you to put the same objects into different groups.  You will tell me how we grouped or sorted the objects.

1. Put all the green items you have in one pile for me please. What is the same about them?

2. Put all the dinosaurs in one pile for me please.What is the same about them?

3. Put all the animals in a pile for me please.What is the same about them?

4. Put all the items that are not animals in a pile for me.What is the same about them?

5. Put all the items that are round in a pile for me please. What is the same about them?

6. Put all the items that are blue in a pile for me please. and so on.

Ask the students if there are other ways the objects could be grouped.

This will help them to be able to put things in groups and start developing their classification skills.


Instructional Notes 

Suggested Labs and Activities

A study of the 5 senses will teach children how to observe.  This 5 senses unit with a variety of lessons would be a great beginning to using observation for all inquiry/science lessons.

Five Senses Unit

Another 5 senses unit

Five Senses Unit

The following are websites can be used to practice sorting.

Online and offline sorting lessons.

Sorting and using Materials

Grouping and Changing Materials

Going on a Leaf Hunt: Sorting Leaves lesson

Leaf Hunt

Beach Bucket:  Sorting items in many ways that found on a beach from a bucket. This lesson could be adapted for an environment closer to home,such as a prairie, woods, lake shore.   This also correlates with Minnesota Standard

Beach Bucket Sort

It "Sort" of Matters Where Things Go: Sorting lesson using different attributes

Attribute Sort

Foss Kits: If you do not have these kits you can go to the website and download the lessons.  There are online student activities as well home/school connection ideas.

Trees- Investigation 2- parts 1-5

Animals Two by Two - Investigation 1 part 4, Investigation 2 part 4, Investigation part 3, Investigation 4 part 2

Any graphing activity can be used to practice sorting. Ex.  M & M or skittle graphing.  See lesson for activities, sheets and more ideas

Graphing Activities

Instructional Resources 

Instructional suggestions/options

Although kindergarten students wonder about their world, they need their teacher to model the formulation and verbalization of questions - followed by many opportunities to practice these skills. They will also need guidance through appropriate questioning strategies to gather evidence and formulate explanations. Teachers should provide kindergartners with many opportunities to make observations with all their senses, to look for patterns in what they observe, and to share with others what they did and what they learned from their observations. Kindergartners can be introduced to the idea that lots of different sorts of people do science and can begin to learn how scientists work by hearing age-appropriate stories about scientists. A foundation for understanding the nature and process of science can be initiated by discussing and comparing what the scientists in the stories did with what the students do in their own classroom investigations. Understanding the Nature of Science

Use this flowchart for a better understanding of how young learners explore an discover.

Flow Chart

Science songs for all topics! Science Songs

New Vocabulary 


  • Sort/Group - Arrange systematically in groups; separate according to type, class, etc:
  • Properties - a quality, attribute, or distinctive feature of anything, esp a characteristic attribute such as the density or strength of a material
  • Similarities - having a likeness or resemblance, especially in a general way
  • Differences - Unlike in form, quality, amount, or nature; dissimilar
Technology Connections 

Web based game to practice sorting materials by their properties


Clifford Sorting

SMARTboard activity for using the 5 senses.

Five Senses Sort

SMARTboard sorting activities:

Sort by attributes

Using Senses

Sort by size

Sorting Size

Sort by color

Sorting Color

Sort by shape

Sorting Shape

Kidspiration has template called Using the Senses.  This is a click and drag activity that can be used on a smart board or individually in a computer lab.

Kidspiration download

Any graphing activity can be used to practice sorting. Ex.  M & M or skittle graphing.  See lesson for activity and sheets

Graphing Activities

Cross Curricular Connections 

This is a unit that connects math and science:

Sorting in Math 

This site has a variety of lessons for sorting  in science, math and language arts.  They are all about buttons.

Button Sorting Lessons

Any graphing activity can be used to practice sorting and connects with math. Ex.  M & M or skittle graphing.  See lesson for activities, sheets and more graphing ideas

Little Giraffes Teaching Ideas Graphing and Sorting Activities

You can search this website for a large variety of lessons for many connections.

Lesson Connections


This standard should be taught with Minnesota Standard Some objects occur in nature; others have been designed and processed by people. standard can also be used to meet the Minnesota Standard - 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

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

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


Assessment of Students

Assessment Plan:

Informally observe students as they sort the buttons on their firemen. Are they grouping similar characteristics together?

To formally assess students, make a copy of the button blackline (pdf) and have students color the buttons. Students will cut the shapes out and glue the shapes onto separate 81/2"x11" paper by size, buttonhole number, etc.

Pre-assess students before the lesson by showing two squares and two circles to the class. Discuss how they are different and how they are the same. Have students explain how they could group them according to their differences. Observe carefully to see if students understand the concept of "different."

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

Assessment of Teachers

What do I need to know and understand about the standard? Do you need explanations of the concepts you are teaching? Do you have any misconceptions about the content? If so where can you find the information?

Atlas for Science Literacy

Benchmarks for Science Literacy

National Science Education Standards                                

What do my students need to know and understand about the standard?

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?

What worked well and what should I change?


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 sort objects using 2, 3, or 4 attributes.

The could use a Venn diagram to compare and contrast a group of objects.


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 Suburan ISD Multicultural Center

Saint Paul Public 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. 


Classroom Observation 


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.

Games to do at home to practice sorting.