Seriation is arranging objects in order by size, location or position. Sorting and ordering are the building blocks of mathematics. By sorting, children can learn to identify how things are alike or different, and further learn to sort items in groups-a basic math skill.

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WinterKids Guide to Outdoor Active Learning (GOAL), Preschool Edition

A “Spring Forward: Week 1”  activity (P. 99)


Mathematics: Mathematical Practices

Mathematics: Measurement and Data


Children will seriate the sticks from shortest to longest, then, from thinnest to thickest.


sticks, wood, length, short, long, order, thin, thick, seriating


  • Sticks of all sizes (collect them on your Spring Senses or Scavenger HuntWalk)

Questions to ask:

Which one is the longest stick? Where would you place it? Which one of these sticks is shorter? How do you know? This stick is very thick but short. Does this one go after the long, thin stick or before when we are seriating from thin to thick?

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Take the kids outside-your yard or a park or other outdoor space where trees may have dropped branches. Time to play “pick up sticks!” Gather as many fallen sticks as possible. Do not break living trees or branches for this activity. If you and your children can’t gather 5 to 10 sticks in your current location, try another!

Help your child identify sticks that are the same, as well as sticks that are different. Color, thickness, and length are good identifiers. See if your child can find the SHORTEST stick. Then find the LONGEST stick. Place these two sticks on the ground, with enough room between them to place the remaining sticks in between. Help your child organize the remaining sticks by size and put them in place by size. Your child can also try sorting by thickness and color.

Save one straight stick (approximately 2 feet long) for another project. Watch for our next activity-Wind Streamers!

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Free Printable

Download and print this activity plan, then go have some fun!

Stick Seriation Download Preview

Share your active outdoor learning with us on social media! Tag us in your post (@WinterKids_org on Instagram, @WinterKids on Facebook) and use the hashtags:



Find more activities like this for your classroom or family in our WinterKids GOAL Binder, here:


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