Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Sort It Out! Size It Up!

Ann Miller


Students sort a variety of objects by size and discuss the characteristics of these items. Students look at jars filled with the items and estimate the amount in each jar. Then they sort and order them from least to greatest amount in each jar.


The student makes predictions of quantities of objects (to 50 or more) and explains the reasoning supporting that prediction (for example, the number of pieces of candy in a large jar may be estimated by finding the number of pieces in a small jar and estimating how many small jars would fill the larger ones).


-Five identical jars with lids (large mayo or spaghetti sauce jars are good)
-Objects to put in the jars: such as cotton balls, peanuts in the shell, fruit loops, golf balls, unifix cubes, marbles, or any other items that vary in size and will fit in the jars (enough to fill the jars and have in the group containers)
-Containers for each group
-Paper plates
-Chart paper
-Individual worksheet (enough for each student) available in the attached file


1.Collect jars of the exact same size and shape (mayonnaise jars are great).

2.Collect enough of each item (such as marbles, cotton balls, etc.) to fill each jar and to put into containers to be sorted by each group.

3. Divide class into groups that work well together and complement each otherís abilities.

4. Download the worksheet from the attached file and make a copy for each student.


1. Display an example of each item that is in the group container on the studentsí desks.

2. Ask students to describe the objects in any way.

3. Discuss ways to group these items.

4. Write the suggestions for grouping on chart paper or on the board.

5. Tell students they will sort the items on paper plates according to size.

6. Allow each group to share their findings. The teacher will be giving positive feedback and making helpful suggestions at this time.

7. Line up labeled jars filled with the objects the students have been sorting.

8. Students work within their group to determine the order in which the jars would show the items from the least to the most items in each jar

9. Students will discuss how many of a particular item it will take to fill a jar

10. Each student in the group will complete a worksheet showing the order of the jars. If a student disagrees with the result of his group, he will have his own answers on the worksheet. The teacher will give suggestions and positive feedback.

11. Discuss the findings of each group.

12. Open each jar and count the contents to check the studentsí work.


1. Observing the students working together and seeing that each student contributes to the group. The teacher will be giving positive reinforcement.

2. Discuss the findings of each group. The teacher will be giving positive feedback.

3. Check individual worksheets to see if they have completed the activity correctly.


1. Students use the items in the jars to practice place value by putting H/T/O on board and counting the items, changing 10 ones for a ten and 10 tens for a hundred until jar is empty.

2. Use items in individual jars to do addition and subtraction facts.

3. Students may do a graphing activity with the results of this lesson.

Attached Files

The guessing jar worksheet. This is a document.     File Extension: pdf

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