classifying shells…OCEAN fun

I have been saving a big bag of shells for a while now, not really sure what to do with it.  Since we are enjoying Ocean Week, I thought it would be fun to do a little classifying.  If you are not familiar with the term classifying, it’s a fancy word for sorting. 😉  Big M classifies objects as he plays.  Arranging cars, trucks and planes in many different categories.  I was hoping to give Little M some sorting practice with this activity. . .and we were successful!

what you need:  shells ~ chalk

Little M and I worked together to make a shells classifying area.  I wrote out the word shells and drew a square with four sections.  Little M added some decorations.

Little M started sorting her shells by size.

Big M joined us and made his own classifying space.

He classified his shells by the way they felt.  When he came upon a shell that had both smooth and rough parts there was a lot to think about! He decided to set it right in the middle.

When Little M was done (it didn’t take very long for her to move on) she did some very cool things with the shells and chalk.

She drew a shape…

and then arranged shells to fit.  I didn’t see if she drew the shape first or arranged the shells first and then traced them.  She took the shells out over and over.  Trying out new shells and moving them around until they fit.  It was like a homemade puzzle.

After that she took an artistic approach and designed people using both the shells and the chalk.  Can you tell who she drew?

Ahh… there they are.  (Big M wanted to look just like the drawing.)

Questions (to ask your little one): “What similarities can you find between these to shells?  What differences?”  “Are there other ways you can sort these shells?”  “How would it look if we used size to classify our shells?”

Tips (to maximize learning): 1.  Little M moved on from this activity rather quickly, but before she did she learned how to sort the same objects in different ways.  I may not see where she uses that new skill, but I know that she will.  Maybe she will sort her jewelry or art supplies.  But when she does it will be because she has initiated it and her attention will be focused for a very long time.  2.  Remember that kids learn best when they are steering their learning.  Even though I set lessons, I am flexible to move off course at any time.

Have you done any classifying lately?  Tell me all about it!

This post is a part of the Ocean lesson plan.


  1. I just found your blog from How We Grow spotlight and really love your themes. We are doing ocean right now as well, and your shell ideas are very handy!

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