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20 October 2014
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Science topics ages 5 - 6
Sorting and using materials

Curriculum relevance | Online lesson plan
Offline lesson plan | Worksheet | Activity

Offline lesson plan


Use appropriate scientific vocabulary to describe and sort objects according to their properties

National Curriculum

England: Key Stage 1, Science, Sc1 1, 2b, 2f, 2g, 1h, 1j; Sc3 1a, 1b, 1c

Wales: Key Stage 1, Materials and their properties, 1.1, 1.2, 1.3

Northern Ireland: Key Stage 1, Materials, Properties, c, e

Scotland: 5-14 Guidelines, Science, Materials from Earth, Level B

Resources required

Materials: coarse and fine sandpaper, newspapers, magazines, egg boxes, sugar paper, plastic, denim, felt, ribbon, hessian



Large piece of sugar paper per group, with 'Rough' written top left and 'Smooth' written top right

Teaching activities

Children sit in a circle on the carpet with the materials in the middle. Ask individual children to choose a piece of material, name it and say something about how it looks and feels. Encourage the children to use the terms rough and smooth as well as other descriptive words.

Divide the children into three ability groups. Explain that they are going to sort materials according to texture.

Ask the least able group to put all the rough materials on one side of their paper under the heading rough and all of the smooth materials on the other side under the heading smooth. The objects provided for this group should be easily definable in terms of texture.

The middle ability group will have a small selection of materials, which they will be asked to order from roughest to smoothest across the page.

The higher ability group will have the same activity but will have a larger number of materials that are less easily ordered and therefore will generate discussion. Where available an additional adult can encourage the children to describe their observations using appropriate scientific language and give reasons for their decisions.

When each group is satisfied with their sorting they can stick their objects onto the sugar paper.

Ask the middle ability group to show their work. What problems did you have? How did you solve them? Were there any materials that you could not agree about and why? At this point, you could discuss alternative ways of sorting and this could be experimented with in a later lesson or during choosing time at a science table.


Ask a child to hold an unseen classroom object behind his/her back or a screen. They must then use appropriate language to describe its properties whilst the rest of the class guess what it is.

Suggested homework

Ask the children to look for both the roughest and the smoothest object in their home. They can record this work with pictures and labels.


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