Classification of Living Things Lesson Plan

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Use this lesson plan to teach your students how to classify organisms. Students learn the history of nomenclature and hierarchical classification, then work to classify organisms into kingdoms.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • define key terms
  • explain the history of nomenclature
  • classify organisms


  • 1 hour


  • Buttons of assorted shapes, sizes, and colors placed into zipper baggies, one for each student, partnership, or team
  • Copies of lesson transcript, one for each student
  • White pieces of paper, cut into circles
  • Markers, colored pencils, crayons
  • Metal paper fasteners

Key Vocabulary

  • Taxonomy
  • Binomial nomenclature
  • Morphology

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.9-10.10

By the end of grade 10, read and comprehend science/technical texts in the grades 9-10 text complexity band independently and proficiently.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.9-10.4

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 9-10 texts and topics.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.9-10.5

Analyze the structure of the relationships among concepts in a text, including relationships among key terms (e.g., force, friction, reaction force, energy).


  • Engage students and connect to learning by asking them to classify buttons in any way that makes sense to them. After a few minutes, discuss criteria. Explain that scientists classify living things the same way.
  • Preview and pre-teach vocabulary, pass out copies of the transcript for students to follow and highlight, and then start the video Taxonomy: Classification and Naming of Living Things.
  • Pause the video at 1:41. Check for student understanding. Discuss:
    • Why did Linnaeus decide to create nomenclature?
    • How does nomenclature work?
    • What criteria did Linnaeus use to create his system?
  • Resume the video and pause again at 3:20. Check for understanding, then ask students to write their addresses using the system described in the video. Discuss.
  • Play the video, pausing again once more at 5:08. Ask:
    • Why do we now have six kingdoms?
    • To which kingdom do humans belong?
    • Can an organism be in more than one kingdom?
    • Which are the most and least populated kingdoms?
  • Play the remainder of the video. Make sure students have appropriate understanding.

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