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Classifying Candy III
Administration Procedures
Contributed by: New York State Alternative Assessment in Science Project


Students will create a classification tree based on grouping candy using eight different properties.

The task assesses students' ability to make simple observations and apply their understanding to classification.

This task is designed to take students approximately 10-15 minutes to complete.

Overall Task Content Area:

Physical Science

Specific Knowledge Areas:

Properties of objects and materials

Performance Expectations:

  • applying scientific principles to develop explanations and solve new problems

National Science Education Standards:

4 A SI 1: Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry: Grades K-4
1.5 Communicate investigations and explanations. Students should begin developing the abilities to communicate, critique, and analyze their work and the work of other students. This communication might be spoken or drawn as well as written.

4 B PS 1: Properties of objects and materials: Grades K-4
1.1 Objects have many observable properties, including size, weight, shape, color, temperature, and the ability to react with other substances. Those properties can be measured using tools, such as rulers, balances and thermometers.

1.2 Objects are made of one or more materials, such as paper, wood and metal. Objects can be described by the properties of the materials from which they are made, and those properties can be used to separate or sort a group of objects or materials.

(Use the "hot" link on the PALS home page to check the full text of related National Science Education Standards, if desired.)

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics:

AL1: Understand patterns, relations and functions:
Grades pre K-5 a. sort, classify, and order objects by size, number, and other properties.

DAP1: Formulate questions that can be addressed with data and collect, organize, and display relevant data to answer them:
Grades pre K-5 b. sort and classify objects according to their attributes and organize data about the objects

GEO1: Analyze characteristics and properties of two- and three-dimensional shapes and develop mathematical arguments about geometric relationships:
Grades pre K-5 b. describe attributes and parts of two- and three-dimensional shapes

MEAS1: Understand measurable attributes of objects and the units, systems, and processes of measurement:
Grades pre K-5 b. compare and order objects according to these (length, volume, weight, area, and time) attributes

PS3: Apply and adapt a variety of appropriate strategies to solve problems:
Grades pre K-5

RP2: Make and investigate mathematical conjectures:
Grades pre K-5

REP1: Create and use representations to organize, record, and communicate mathematical ideas:
Grades pre K-5

General Instructions to the Teacher:

This task is designed to take students approximately 10-15 minutes to complete.

Students will be working individually during this exercise.

Students should be ready to work as soon as the period begins. The materials should be set out at each lab station, if possible. A central supply area, if needed, should be easily accessible.

Materials for "Classifying Candy III":

At this station students should have:

  • 1 sandwich bag with 13-15 pieces of candy.

Advance Preparation

  • Prepare 1 bag of candy for each student. Any selection of candy is valid as long as it contains items of various shape, color, wrappers, texture, etc.
  • An odd number of pieces is best. This eliminates the assumption that groups must be of equal number.
  • It is also suggested that the candy sample not include doubles of any one candy.
  • An example would be an assortment of both hard and soft candy:
    • red striped peppermint
    • butterscotch disc
    • caramel
    • root beer barrel
    • green sour ball
    • blue square mint
    • Tootsie Rolls
    • green striped wintergreen
    • red square anise flavor
    • red cinnamon ball
    • green tropical flavored disc
    • sugar filled caramel (round)


  • The students should be instructed not to eat or taste any of the candy
  • Be careful.
  • Teachers and students should always exercise appropriate safety precautions and utilize appropriate laboratory safety procedures and equipment when working on science performance tasks.


  • Classifying Candy I and Classifying Candy II
  • Rubric language should be targeted to the specific NCTM standard(s) to be measured.

Advanced Preparation Set Up:

Teacher: Prepare a bag of candy.

Student: Sort candy.


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