STREAM Activity: Stop Light Sort

Celebrate the STEM contributions of inventor Garrett Morgan!

Activity best for children ages 2 and up

Did you know that February is Black History Month? To help us celebrate the STEM contributions of Black Americans we are honoring inventor Garrett Morgan. Garett Morgan was one of the first African Americans to acquire different patents, or special certificates and rights, for his inventions. One of his most famous inventions was an improved traffic light!

Garrett Morgan was a mechanical engineer. That means he solved problems using machines. In the 1920s, Garrett Morgan saw a terrible accident happen with a carriage. He wanted to keep roads safer. So, he invented a traffic light that had three lights instead of two. He added a special warning light, the yellow light we know now, that helped drivers know they needed to slow down. This light is used now in the United States, Britain, and Canada!

Garrett Morgan was an active supporter of African American rights, historically black colleges, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Today we celebrate Garrett Morgan and his most famous invention by making our own traffic light! We will use ours to sort and classify objects.

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Construction paper (1 piece of: black, red, green, and yellow)

A circular object for tracing (ex: cup, bowl, water bottle)

A writing utensil for tracing


An assortment of red, green, and yellow toys and objects

Guiding Questions:

What is similar about the objects that you see? What is different?

Can you find all of the objects that are the same color?


Step 1

Gather your materials!

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Step 2

Use your circular object to trace a circle on the red, green, and yellow construction paper.

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Step 3

Cut out the circles you have traced.

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Step 4

Lay your circles on the black paper so that they look like a stop light! The red circle goes at the top. The yellow circle goes in the middle. The green circle goes on the bottom.

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Step 5

Sort your objects by color! If the object is red, place it on the red circle. If the object is yellow place, it on the yellow circle. If the object is green, place it on the green circle.

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Grown Ups-Are you looking for more ways to extend your child’s learning? Check out these extension activities to build upon today’s STREAM activity!

Reading Connections

Saving the Day: Garrett Morgan’s Life-Changing Invention of the Traffic Signal by Karyn Parsons

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Have You Thanked an Inventor Today? by Patrice McLaurin

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Real World Connections

Help your children identify colors in the real world. Have them go outside and find objects that they can add to their sort!

When driving or walking with your child, point out traffic lights. Ask them if the color means they should keep driving, slow down, or stop.