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Developing an Object or Tool

Author(s): Barbara Z. Tharp, MS, Nancy P. Moreno, PhD, and Paula H. Cutler, BA.
Developing an Object or Tool

People create objects that meet particular needs or solve problems.
© Oleksiy Mark.

  • Grades:
  • K-2
  • Length: 45 Minutes

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Students sequence the steps involved in producing an object (tree to chair, mud to brick, etc.). They also learn that tools and objects are designed to perform functions or solve problems.

This activity is from the Resources and the Environment Teacher's Guide. Although it is most appropriate for use with students in grades K-2, the lesson is easily adaptable for other grade levels.


Teacher Background

Throughout history, people have created objects that meet particular needs or solve problems. Our homes and the items inside provide many examples of how things are designed and created to fulfill a need. Technology, the practical application of scientific knowledge (or knowledge about the how the world works), is reflected throughout the spaces in which we live, work and go to school.

Objectives and Standards


  • We use resources from the living and nonliving components of the environment to meet our needs and wants.

  • Humans make objects from natural materials.

  • Simple problems can be solved through the development of an improved object or tool.

  • The shape of objects helps them function as needed to solve problems.


  • Observing

  • Gathering Data

  • Sequencing

Materials and Setup

Teacher Materials

  • 12 sheets of white cardstock

  • 12 resealable, small plastic bags

Materials per Two-student Team

  • Prepared set of Process Cards


  1. Each of the six student sheets contain a different set of steps (or processes) needed to create one object. You will need 12 sets of Process Cards for a class of 24 students working in teams of two. Photocopy the student sheets onto cardstock.

  2. Cut out the cards and place each set of cards in a plastic bag prior to class.

Procedure and Extensions

  1. Distribute one bag of Process Cards to each student team.  

  2. Challenge students to place the cards in order, beginning with the first step. Ask, Why is it necessary to make this item? Why do we need it? Does it make our lives more comfortable? Save time? Make a job easier? Could we get along without this item?

  3. As students finish a sequence, check their understanding and let teams trade cards with other groups.

  4. Have students share their sequencing experiences. Ask, Was the process involved in making any item more difficult or easier to figure out? How do you know you have the right sequence?

  5. Ask students to describe how the shape of each object contributes to its function. For example, the frying pan is convex, so that it can contain food; chocolate candies are small and round, so that they are easy to carry and eat, etc. Have each student think about a common object they use every day and sketch its shape.

Related Content

  • Resources and the Environment

    Resources and the Environment Teacher Guide

    Young students explore how living things—including humans—use resources found naturally in their environments, or modify resources to meet their needs. (11 activities).

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    Tillena Lou becomes lost while while exploring away from her home. Then she gets an unexpected ride into the world of people. What surprises await the tiny turtle?

Funded by the following grant(s)

Science Education Partnership Award, NIH

Science Education Partnership Award, NIH

Filling the Gaps: K-6 Science/Health Education
Grant Number: 5R25RR013454