Learning About Classification

Early on, children learn how to classify objects. They learn that socks come in pairs. They learn to categorize shoes based on season (i.e. winter boots, summer sandals, etc.). What they may not know is that classification is simply grouping items by common characteristics. Sometimes these characteristics can be seen, other times they are recognized through other senses. A great way to strengthen observation skills is to ask your students to view a selection of objects and create their own system of classification. While you may not be a geology teacher, rocks offer great opportunities for practicing this skill set. Divide your students into groups of four or five and provide each team with ten rock samples. Instruct them to design a classification system that will include each rock given. There is no wrong answer and the more creative students can get, the better. Groups may choose to base their rock categories on size, color, texture, or even shape. After finalizing their system, have a member of each group present their findings. Once everyone has had a turn, decide as a class which system of classification best suits the rock samples.

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