Spanish Version

Find the Unexpected Guest

Math Activity

This activity provides children with the opportunity to have fun while practicing classifying and categorizing skills.


Unexpected Guest sorting sheet (print and copy)


  1. Distribute copies of the Unexpected Guest sorting sheet and tell children that they are going to practice sorting. Explain that they are to look around the room and find three things that could "live" in the same house together (go together) and one thing that does not belong in the same house. They should place the objects in the four rooms on the sorting sheet and invite their classmates to find the unexpected guest.

  2. Explain to children that once they find an unexpected guest, they should explain why it doesn't belong in the house with the other objects. If they cannot explain why, the person who collected the objects should explain how he or she sorted the objects and why one doesn't belong. If children disagree with how things are grouped, they should explain why they disagree and suggest more suitable objects.

  3. Encourage children to sort several groups of objects. Once children feel they have exhausted the supply of things to sort in the classroom, they can draw things on their sorting sheets. Encourage them to use their imaginations when they draw objects and not to limit themselves to things that might be found in a classroom or school.


  • Print several copies of the Unexpected Guest sorting sheet and laminate them so children can reuse them after drawing on them.

  • If children have difficulty sorting, you may want to arrange them in groups and assign each group a topic. For example, one group could look for things that have to do with math (with one exception), while another might find writing tools (with one exception).

You may download, print and make copies of this page for use in your classroom, provided that you include the copyright notice shown below on all such copies.

Copyright © 1997 Houghton Mifflin Company. All Rights Reserved.