Sorting Leaves & Seeds and Celebrating Autumn

Today is the first day of autumn! I first shared this post 5 years ago when Aiden was almost 3. We celebrated the start of the new season with a blog hop. After a great leaf collecting trip, we had some fun sorting leaves and seeds. It’s a fabulous fall science activity perfect for preschool or elementary.

Sorting Leaves and Seeds fall science activity for preschool or elementary

Sorting Leaves and Seeds

We collected all of our leaves, seed pods, pine needles, and pinecones in a large basket. When we got home, we sorted our collection.

Aiden picked up the pine needles. I asked him in which container he wanted to place them. He chose the red one. He picked up more pine needles. I asked where they went. He put them in a different color. I told him all of the pine needles go in the same container because they are the same. We will put different things in the other containers. He didn’t care. He picked up the pine needles and moved them from one container to another. His actions were actually helping to develop skills necessary for sorting. Placing objects into containers or even gathering objects into piles, organizing things into lines or groups is a step towards sorting separate things.

pre-sorting skills

When Aiden was finished moving the pine needles around, we placed them all in one container. I placed a leaf, a seed pod, and a pinecone each in one of the other containers.


Aiden picked up a leaf from the bucket. I asked him where the leaf goes. He chose the blue container with the other leaf. Now he’s getting the concept of sorting. We continued sorting things from the bucket to the containers as long as he was content.

Sorting: A Math and Science Skill

As Aiden sorted, I talked about the similarities between leaves and pine needles.

  • Both are green on the tree.
  • Both turn brown when they fall of the tree.
  • Both collect energy from the sun to provide food for the plant. (You can use the word photosynthesis.)

We talked about the similarities between the seed pods and pinecones.

  • Both grow on trees.
  • Both contain seeds.
  • Seeds can be planted to grow new trees.

Sorting is an important skill for both math and science. In science, we tend to use the word classify, but the concept is the same. Organizing like things together into logical groupings is what sorting is all about. You’ll notice your toddler natural start to group objects. Talk about what he is doing. Encourage him. Provide things for her to sort.

Sorting can lead to graphing as well. Notice how I’ve labeled my picture below? I made a picture graph of what we sorted. To add numbers to your graph, you can count the objects as you sort them.

Sorting Leaves and Seeds

More Fall Science Adventures

Check out our entire collection of Fall Science Activities. You’ll find science ideas for apples, leaves, Halloween, and exploring outside.  
Fall Science Activities - science ideas for apples, leaves, Halloween, and exploring outside from Inspiration Laboratories

Happy Autumn!

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This post was originally published on September 20, 2012.

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