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Donut Sort objectives

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Donut Sort
OBJECTIVES: Students will:


  • Construct a simple key that places every donut in its own

category according to its properties.

  • Identify each donut according to the key.


6 distinctly different donuts (for a group of 6)

6 sandwich bags

1 blank dichotomous key per person

Teacher Note:

Before class: Put each donut in its own baggie.


1. Ask students if they know what classification is and if they have done it or not (most will not know). Then ask them if they know what organization is (more affirmative responses). Ask them how they might organize their clothes (examples – shirts and pants, by color, by season, etc). On the board, draw an example of a dichotomous key that shows how their clothes may be organized. Discuss that objects have properties or features that we use when we organize them.

2. Briefly review what a property is. Hold up one donut and

orally list properties that might pertain such as shape,

size, color, coating, etc.
3. Put students into groups of six.
4. Have each person pick a donut and put their name on the

baggie in permanent marker. Then have the group lay all of

the donuts out in front of them and name one property they

can use to divide the donuts into two piles.

5. Make one pile 'that which has the

property' and the other one 'that which doesn't'. For

example in this group of donuts: round and not round.
Fill in 1A and 1B on the dichotomous key as

1A not round

1B round
Next take either group and divide it again by one property.

For example take the not round into twist or no twist. Fill

in 2A and 2B on the dichotomous key/
2A not round twist

2B not round not twist

As soon as you've gone as far as necessary to identify an

individual donut then name whose it is.

Continue until all donuts have their own individual

category. Students must name all the characteristics to

"key out" their donut before they can have it to eat.

Sample Donut Key

1A not round

1B round

2A not round, twisted

2B not round, not twisted

3A round, no hole

3B round, hole

4A round, hole, choc. iced

4B round, hole, not choc. iced

5A round, hole, choc. iced, ruffled

5B round, hole, choc. iced, not ruffled

** Note **

Any property may be used to make each new classification.

There are many right answers as long as each division is

made according to just one property and states it in terms

of that property; for instance:
Green --- Not Green
Afterwards, discuss with the class how each group classified their donuts. Look at the properties that each group chose to use in their key. Point out how using different features may have caused groups to organize their donuts in different ways and that it is important for scientists to agree to use the same features so that they do not overlap.

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