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Animal Classification Lesson Plan

Instructor: Julie Zundel

Julie has taught high school Zoology, Biology, Physical Science and Chem Tech. She has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master of Education.

Taxonomy sounds dull, but this lesson plan allows students to explore classification using a hands-on activity, interactive notes, and then a creative competition.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Discuss the ways in which items can be classified
  • Discuss why classification is needed
  • List (from broadest to most specific) the classification system that was devised by Linnaeus
  • List the correct classification (from kingdom to species) for a human


80 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 6-8 texts and topics.


Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table).


  • One shoebox filled with a variety of items per group
    • Suggested items: sticks, toothpicks, foil, nuts, bolts, leaves, old USB cables, batteries, soap, hair clips (and any other random materials you have available).
    • Each box can be different, but they need to have about the same number of materials.
  • Copies of What is Animal Classification?, one for each student.
  • Printer paper
  • Markers
  • Scissors
  • Copies of lesson quiz, one for each student
  • Internet (optional)

Activity Instructions

  • Begin by giving each group (2-4 students) a shoebox filled with various materials.
  • Instruct students to sort the materials (no other instructions are required at this time).
  • Give students 5-10 minutes and then have students jot down some ways in which they sorted their stuff.
  • Hand out What is Animal Classification?, one for each student.
  • Read as a class, stopping after the 'Classification Categories' section to discuss the following:
    • How did each group sort (or classify) their box? Write classification methods for the items in the shoebox on the board (shape, size, use, living vs. non-living, etc.).
    • Was there a group that did the best at classifying? Why or why not?
    • Why might it be useful to classify the stuff in the box? Why is it useful to classify animals?
    • Based on your shoebox, what challenges might Linnaeus have faced in classifying animals? (e.g., some things don't fit into one category, some things fit into multiple categories)?
  • Next, students are going to create an 'ID card' for their own taxonomy.
  • Give each pair of students a piece of paper, and have them fold it like an accordion (so there are seven sections) and then cut the paper in half lengthwise (each student will get one half).

Each student should have a paper that looks like this

  • On the back, students will write their name on the top flap.

Student name goes on the back of the card
name on card

  • Resume reading the lesson, adding the category and then what you (human) belong to for each one.
  • Students can also add pictures and notes to each flap, depending on the complexity desired.
  • Discussion questions that can be presented during the building of the ID are in the next section.

Notes will go on each flap

  • At the end, students will have their own ID cards that show their classification .

Finished ID card

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