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What's The Point

The purpose of this activity is to help your child notice details, follow simple patterns, and sort objects – all important steps toward gathering and understanding information (data collection and analysis).

This Activity Will Help Your Child

  • Follow simple instructions
  • Notice differences
  • Learn about sorting objects
  • Explore patterns
  • Develop the muscles in fingers and hands that are used for writing

Book Suggestions

  • Let’s Go Rock Collecting
    by Roma Gans & Holly Keller
  • The Button Box
    by Margarette Reid


  • 2 or 3 collections of small, everyday items
  • A container or bag

How Do I Do It?

Ideas for items to collect:

  • Beads or buttons
  • Bottle or milk jug caps, jar lids
  • Small toys
  • Old keys
  • Barrettes
  • Coins
  • Plastic straws, forks, spoons, or knives
  • Shells or rocks
  • Small seed pods or acorns
  • Leaves or twigs

Safety note: Always supervise your child when he/she is collecting items indoors or outside, and clearly explain which items are safe to pick up.

Invite your child to collect 2 or 3 different kinds of small items from around the house or outdoors. Put all of the collected items into a container or bag, and then help your child sort them into groups by the type of item (e.g., all the bottle caps in one pile, all the barrettes in one pile, etc.). Encourage your child to guess which pile has more, and then count them together to find out.

Take It Further

Next, make a simple pattern with what you found. For example: barrette, bottle cap, barrette, bottle cap, barrette. Then ask your child to place the item that comes next in the pattern. You can make it more challenging as your child gets familiar with the game: twig, acorn, acorn, twig, acorn, acorn, twig... What comes next? Ask your child to start his/her own pattern for you to finish.