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In this lesson, students sort things found on the beach and classify their origins as animal, plant, or human





Title – On Sandy Shores
Sorting through the Sand
By – Shelbi Elkin
Primary Subject – Science
Grade Level – 2

Texas Essential Knowledge & Skills Standards:

  1. Scientific processes. The student conducts classroom and field investigations.
    The student is expected to:
    1. demonstrate safe practices during classroom and field investigations; and
    2. learn how to use and conserve resources and dispose of materials.
  1. Science concepts. The student knows that living organisms have basic needs.
    The student is expected to:
    1. identify the external characteristics of different kinds of plants and animals that allow their needs to be met.


  1. Students will be able to sort objects according to characteristics of the objects.
  2. Students will be able to classify his or her items based on the items’ origins (animal, plant, human).


    A beach is not made up of only sand. Items from the ocean drift up on the beach because of waves and currents in the ocean. Rocks and minerals may also drift up from adjacent rivers and streams. Animal remains such as shells and bones also drift upon shore. Human objects are also found on the beach – often these items are litter. These objects can come from ships and boats, as well as from beach visitors. They can be dangerous to animals and plant life on the beach and in the ocean. As waves crash against the shoreline, all these items are ground into sediments and the rough edges are progressively smoothed and rounded into tiny grains of sand. If we look closely into pieces of sand, you will see many of these items ground into a tiny grain of sand.


  • Ask the children if they have ever seen a beach before (in real life, in a picture, or a movie). Show a picture of the beach, for those students who may not have seen a beach and cannot visualize it.
  • Then divide the class into small groups and hand out tubs of sand. Instruct students to not look at or touch what is in the tubs.
  • Let the students look at – not touch, what is in the tubs. Tell them that this is our own miniature beach!
  • Instruct the students to begin searching through the sand. Remind them to make sure that the sand stays in the tub; however, they can carefully take out objects to further examine.
  • Then tell the students to sort the items in various ways. Remind them to think of characteristics such as shape, size, color, where it comes from, etc.

Method of Explanation:

  • Explain that when we go to a beach, we may not always see plant and animal life, but there will always be evidence of it. The children may ask what some evidence of animal or plant life might be. Where you will then answer “footprints, dead seaweed, feathers…” Ask the students to sort their items by animals, plants, and other items. You can also use this time to review what they just did and the conclusions they came up with, but do it using eliciting questions.
  • Display a poster board with the 3 categories – animal, plant and other. Ask the children to recall what items were in the tub and tell where they belong.
  • Introduce the terms biotic – living and abiotic – nonliving.
  • Here are some questions you could ask the students:
    1. What was in the tub?
    2. Where does it belong on the chart?
    3. Can you name some things that weren’t in the bucket that you may find on a beach?
    4. Which items are “abiotic”?
    5. Were any of these items ever biotic?
  • With the class, help decide on a name for the ‘other’ category. Remind the students to think of where the items came from. Ask them HOW these items ended up on the beach. Don’t forget to tell them how the ocean has waves and if this helps items move at all.

Learning Activities/Reinforcement and individual assessment:

    Once the students have looked through and sorted all of the items in the tub then pass out this hand out evaluation to be completed by each student!


    From now on, the students will be able to notice the different categories in everyday life, and be able to tell where they belong when found on the beach!

E-Mail Shelbi Elkin !

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