Stick Seriation (aka: Arranging Sticks)

Stick Seriation (aka: Arranging Sticks)

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!

Move Learn Explore w WinterKids


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Marion Doyle, Education Director

I grew up in a small town in NH with the lake and mountains in my backyard-no computer, one television channel with lousy reception, and parents who encouraged us to get outside in all seasons, but my fondest memories are winter ones. I learned there was far more fun to be had outdoors than in. Those roots are strong, and eventually led me to WinterKids, and my dream job—helping kids and educators connect with nature in our longest (and best!) season. I wish every child had the opportunities and parents that I had. Why WinterKids? Because every child does not.

All stories by : Marion Doyle, Education Director
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