Categorizing Words


This lesson can easily be split into 3 days- the first for practicing the basic concept of  simple categorizing,the second day can focus on learning to understand and be able to explain the properties of objects, and the third day students can practice creating their own categories for objects they are presented.  I believe that for first and second graders all of the words should be labeled with pictures, but 3rd graders may benefit from the challenge of not having pictures.  There are endless choices for activities and examples to support this lesson. Have fun with it and be creative.

Categorizing Words Lesson Plan Includes:

  • Full Teacher Guidelines with Creative Teaching Ideas
  • Instructional Content Pages about Categorizing Words
  • Hands-on homework activities giving students practice on Categorizing Words
  • Answer Keys
  • Common Core State Standards
  • Many Additional Links and Resources
  • Built for Grades 1-3 but can be adapted for other grade levels.

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Three days of lesson planning are done for you when you grab this lesson that helps students learn how to categorize words. During the first day’s lesson, practice the basic concept of  simple categorizing.  The second day can focus on learning to understand and be able to explain the properties of objects. Finally, on the third day students can practice creating their own categories for objects they are presented.  The lesson stresses determining what is alike and different between images of words, and finding properties of items to determine whether they are the same or different as well.

Sample Classroom Procedure / Teacher Instruction: 

  1. Start by having everyone stand up, and split boys to one side of the room and girls to the other. Explain to them they are in groups based on the categories boy and girl.
  2. Tell them you can split the same bunch of things up several ways by different categories. Split them again, this time they are in groups based on the categories light haired and dark haired. You may also choose to use short and tall as groups.
  3. Have all your kids sit down except two to use as examples for discussing the meanings of different and alike. Talk about what is different about the two students, for example- one is tall one is short, one is wearing blue and one red etc. Then talk about how these two students are alike- maybe they are both girls.
  4. Pass out the handout here. Review topics of different and alike through ‘properties of objects’ section.
  5. To discuss properties of objects, use 10 books that your students are familiar with for the next example- make sure there are the three categories you are going to use for grouping – maybe animal books and non-animal books, fiction and non-fiction, hard cover and paperback. As a class, talk about each quality the books can be categorized by and split them into groups.
  6. Discuss the rest of the lesson handout.
  7. Hand out the practice page and the homework page.
  8. Do the activity. Divide kids into groups and give each one the same set of 6 words on cards with pictures for 1st and 2nd graders- look at each word to find the ways in which they are alike and the category in which they belong . If you are teaching 3rd graders it maybe more of a challenge to add an item that doesn’t fit in the group and have them identify that instead. Together as class talk through the process of choosing the category themselves.

Common Core State Standards: 

CCSS.ELA Literacy L.1.5a, CCSS.ELA.Literacy.L.1.5b, CCSS ELA Literacy.L.2.5a

Class Sessions (45 minutes): 2-3 class sessions.

Additional Resources:

Want more language arts resources? Check out our other Language Arts Lesson Plans!

Additional information

Grade Level

1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade


Language Arts

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