Last week, my first grader and I completed a project that touched on so many different learning concepts – we organized all of the picture books on our shelf and graphed our results!

Here are the concepts that we practiced during this project:

  • Fiction vs. non-fiction
  • Choosing attributes to sort by
  • Tally marks
  • Counting by 5’s
  • Making a bar graph

When Gresham saw me clearing every book off the shelf, he was very curious about what we could be doing.

First, we made a huge pile of all of our picture books.

Teach organizing, graphing, and more with a book sorting project!

Then we sorted the books into two piles:  fiction and non-fiction.  These were new words for Gresham, and sorting the books really helped reinforce the concepts as he made a decision for each book.

Teach organizing, graphing, and more with a book sorting project!

Then, we sorted the non-fiction books and the fiction books into smaller categories.  I asked Gresham how he thought we should sort them.  He made a pile of animal books and a pile of dinosaur books and a pile of books about vehicles.  Then we had one book about Egypt and one book about the first man on the moon and one book about Pearl Harbor (and a few others like that), and Gresham didn’t know what to do with those.  I suggested a “history” pile.

For the fiction books, we kept it pretty simple.  We had categories for Curious George, Dr. Seuss, books about animals, books about people, “I Can Read” books, Henry and Mudge books, books about knights and castles, and books about dinosaurs.  We could have broken down the “books about animals” and “books about people” categories further by sorting by author or character, but I chose to limit our number of categories so that our project would not become too time-consuming for a 6 year old.

Our next step was to list our categories and write down how many books we had in each category.  This was a great opportunity for practicing tally marks and counting by 5’s. (And using a clipboard always makes it more fun!)

Teach organizing, graphing, and more with a book sorting project!

After we sorted and counted all of our books, we made our results into a bar graph.

Teach organizing, graphing, and more with a book sorting project!

I wrote all of the categories because I knew that Gresham can’t write that small.  This was our first bar graph to have a scale other than 1.  I showed Gresham how we could make each box represent 5 books so that our largest category (47 books) would fit without having to use a lot of graph paper.  He wrote all the numbers on the side of the graph – more practice with counting by 5’s!

Teach organizing, graphing, and more with a book sorting project!

Aidan came downstairs while we were working on this project and was very interested in getting involved.  I told him that we were going to let this be Gresham’s project.  Aidan wanted to know if we were going to alphabetize the books.  I said no, so he offered to alphabetize them.  I said no to that also because this was Gresham’s project!  Then he suggested that we do the categories differently.  Finally, he decided to sort all of the chapter books himself so that he could do some organizing!  All of this cracked me up because his room is such a mess, and he always acts like he can’t see all the clutter and mess everywhere.  Now I know better!

5 Comments

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  1. Mary Mar 20, 2013

    this is a great idea! I have several boxes of books for a used book sale and we will sort and graph them this week!

    Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Andrea Mar 20, 2013

      Good idea! I think my six-year-old would love deciding the picture book categories on his own.

      Reply
      1. Eddie - The Usual Mayhem Mar 21, 2013

        This is brilliant! I may have to copy when we move and are unpacking the books again. Mwahaha....a way to get them to put the books away themselves......

        Reply
        1. Sally Matheny Mar 22, 2013

          Great homeschooling idea for my eight-year-old son! This is also a great time to sort into two more piles: Keep and Give Away!

          Reply
          1. Sarah Mar 22, 2013

            That is a GREAT idea! If we hadn't just recently gone through our books, I would have been doing the same!

            Reply
          2. Sola Dalias Dec 2, 2017

            Thank you Sarah for this post. I especially like anything that has to do with organisation. I've found myself losing productivity when working in an untidy or unorganized environment. On the side, I think this concept is worth trying out. Didn't know it will involve some maths lol!

            Reply

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