Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Harriet's Halloween Sort

Lore Davis
Alachua County Schools


This is a small group instructional activity in which students sort, classify and tell about what characteristics they sort individually wrapped candy.


The student describes a wide variety of classification schemes and patterns related to physical characteristics and sensory attributes, such as rhythm, sound, shapes, colors, numbers, similar objects, similar events.


-Book entitled HARRIET'S HALLOWEEN CANDY by Nancy Carlson. Further info: 32 pages Reissue edition (January 1997)
First Avenue Editions; ISBN: 087614850X -7 bowls of mixed and individually wrapped candy (15 pieces in each bowl), depending on class/group size. One bowl would be for the teacher to use at the beginning of the lesson when students sort the candy together. The others are to be used by individual students.
-7 sorting trays or mats
-Paper and crayons for records of one sort


1. Request bags of individually wrapped candy and purchase with your school funds.
2. Place candy in individual bowls for students to work with in groups.
3. Have sorting trays or work mats, paper and crayons ready for student use.
4. Students are not ability grouped. They are groups of 4-6 children with at least one low, one middle and one high level student, if possible.
5. While the teacher works with one group of children, three other groups of children (4-6 to a group) are participating in other learning centers (ex: listening/computer center, writing center, art center, science center). Students should be able to participate in the other centers independently, unless another adult (volunteer/aide) is available so that the teacher can give her/his full attention to the group.


1. Read the book HARRIET'S HALLOWEEN CANDY during large group or small group instruction. During the story discuss the many ways Harriet sorted her candy each time she took her trick-or-treat bag out of its hiding place.

2. While working with small groups of four to seven children, have them tell you the ways Harriet sorted her candy. During the time you're working with students with this small group activity, the rest of the children will be divided equally (4-7 children in each group depending on class size) and be working independently in one of three other learning centers (language, science, art, listening, computer).

3. Have students sit around you in a circle on the floor or at a table. Pour a bowl of candy on a work mat or on the table. Ask students to look at the candy and think of ways it could be sorted.

4. Choose one student at a time to choose ways to sort the candy. Example: One student may choose to sort by color and choose all of the candies with red in them. The next student may choose to sort all the candies with green, etc. Discuss how the candies are alike and different and the attribute used to sort the candy. The candy should be sorted onto a tray or mat.

5. Have students count each group of candies they've sorted. Discuss which kind has the most, least and same amount. They could also discuss how many more or less of each kind they have.

6. After sorting by one attribute, have the children decide another way the candy can be sorted (size, kind, candy with words/no words). Continue having students sort until they've sorted by a variety of characteristics. Each time they sort, they should explain how they sorted.

7. Tell students that they will now sort their own bowls of candy. Give each student a bowl of candy and a sorting tray. Students will work independently to sort their own candy. Have the students explain how they sorted each time they sort. Give suggestions or ask other students to give suggestions of other ways to sort, if a child can't think of alternative ways to sort. Students will demonstrate their understanding by explaining how they sorted their candy. They should sort candy by at least 3 different characteristics.

8. As a closing activity, the students will get back together with their group and tell by what characteristics they sorted their candy.


The student demonstrates his/her knowledge of sorting and classifying by using at least 3 characteristics (kind, color, size, like/dislike, hard candy/chewy candy, chocolate/not chocolate) to sort individually wrapped candy. This is a formative assessment to be used to guide instruction.


Following this lesson, students could sort a variety of other manipulatives, art objects, toys or real objects by a number of characteristics.

Students could also create graphs and patterns using the candy they sorted.

Graphs and patterns created could be extended by other children or copied by other children. Recorded patterns could be laminated and placed at a math center for others to duplicate.
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