Natural vs. Man Made - An Introduction

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Students will distinguish between things that are natural vs. man made by completing a sort.

Big Idea

Students are surrounded by "stuff"! Can they figure out if it came from nature or whether it was made by man?


10 minutes

Materials Needed

  • Natural vs Man Made Sort included as a PDF with this lesson.  I print and laminate four sets so I have one for each table group.

 I begin this lesson with a constructivist activity.  This type of activity has the students searching for commonalities between items and really helps to develop their critical thinking skills.  I say to the students, You are going to get a set of cards.  I want you to sort these cards into two groups according to some rule.  I am not going to tell you what the rule is.  I want you to try to figure that out.  When you are done, you should have two groups.  Each group will have things that are the same in some way.  I want you to really talk about how you are going to sort these out as a group.

The students begin working and I circulate around the room to observe their work.  This is not their first time doing this type of sort, so they are quite comfortable and I do not need to interject.  I really get to step back and enjoy my students in action.  It is fun to see them using their background knowledge to figure out logical groupings for the cards.   See video.

After they are done sorting, each group shares how they sorted their cards.  I ask them questions about how they grouped their cards as I want them to defend their grouping.  This is great practice for the students to defend their groupings based on their observations.  I am impressed as each group has found a unifying rule to sort the cards by.

I then say to the students, We are going to come back to these cards in a little bit to see what rule I was looking for, so leave your cards where they are on the table and join me at the SmartBoard.

Direct Instruction

20 minutes

For this portion of the lesson, I use my SMART Board.  If you have a SMART Board, the file Natural vs. Man-Made Notebook File can easily be downloaded and opened.  If you have a different type of interactive whiteboard, you can still use this lesson by opening the file in Smart Notebook Express.  There is also a pdf of the slides so you can recreate this part of the lesson:  Natural vs Man Made PDF of Slides

I gather my students in front of the SMART Board.  I have cards with each student's name on.  These cards are used for selecting who will come up to the SMART Board.

I open the first slide (Smartboard Slide 1) with the lesson objective written in "student friendly" terms.  There is a content objective and a language objective to help focus on vocabulary expansion for my English Learners (ELs) to be congruent with SIOP instructional techniques.  I read these objectives aloud for my students.

Content Objective
I can tell the difference between something from nature and something that is man-made.

Language Objective
I can tell a friend whether something is from nature or man-made.

I then advance to Slide Two.  

Slide Two: If something is from nature, it has not been changed at all by humans.  These things are from nature.  Do you know what they are?  We go through the slide, and the students tell me what each item is.  I have the students give me other examples of things that are from nature.  

Slide Three:  If something is man-made, it has been created by humans.  Do you know what these items are?  Again, we go through the slide, having the students name each item and I have the students give me examples of other things that are man-made.  

Slide Four:  My students are familiar with “Turn and Talk”.  We use Turn and Talk to help build oral language skills, especially with my EL students.  My students have an assigned “Turn and Talk Partner”.  I then tell the students, Now, turn to your Turn and Talk partner and answer this question, Does this item come from nature or is it man-made?

After the students have had a chance to talk, I ask for a volunteer to share what their group came up with.  We talk about how even though an eagle is from nature, someone made this statue, so it is man-made.

I then ask the students to return to their tables because we are going to revisit the sorting cards from the beginning of the lesson.  

Guided Practice

7 minutes

After the students return to their seats, I say to them, Now that we know the difference between something from nature and something that is man-made, I want you to go back through your cards and see if you can sort them into two groups.  One group should be "from nature" and the other group should be "man-made".

This gives the students the opportunity to apply what they learned during our direct instruction.  It also allows me the opportunity to observe the students to see if there is any need for reteaching. 

The students are given time to work on the sort and I circulate around the room, helping when needed, but overall, the students quickly sort the cards without difficulty.

After they are done, we gather up the cards and prepare for independent practice.

Independent Practice and Informal Assessment

10 minutes

Materials Needed:

I distribute the sheet to the students and have them write their name on the top.  I say to the students, I want to see if you are able to sort things that are from nature and thing that are man-made.  On the activity sheet, you are going to color all the things that are from nature blue and all the things that are man-made red.  When you are done I will check your work.

The students begin working (see video) and I circulate around the room to check on their progress.  The item that is giving lots of them trouble is the strawberry.  They are is found it nature, but often times grown by a person.  I remind them that the person did not "make" the strawberry.  There is not a factory that makes strawberries.  They grow in nature on a vine.

I check the students work before they put it away. See work sample

To end our lesson, I stand at the door and I randomly ask students if certain things are from nature or man-made as they are exiting the room for the end of our day.