Classifying Living Things: Lesson for Kids

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  • 0:04 Taxonomy of Living Things
  • 0:57 Kingdoms
  • 2:19 Animal Kingdom
  • 3:37 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kerry Momnie

Kerry has taught for eleven years in grades 4-8 and is currently a 5th grade classroom teacher. Kerry also has a master's degree and is a certified reading specialist.

What do an elephant and a spider have in common? More than you might think! Scientists organize living things into groups based on common characteristics. In this lesson we, explore the groups scientists use to organize the many living things on Earth.

Taxonomy of Living Things

Living things are all around us. You know that humans and animals are living, but what about the trees in the forest or even the microscopic organisms in a pond? Even though they appear to be very different from one another, they are all living things as well. Scientists study these differences and classify, or group together, similar living things based on their unique characteristics.

Living things are classified into groups that start out large and become more specific as living things are grouped together that share similar characteristics. This makes it easy for scientists to study them. This system of classification is called taxonomy. Scientists classify living things at eight different levels: domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species. In order to do this, they look at characteristics, such as their appearance, reproduction, and movement, to name a few.


Domain is a more recent classification, so today we'll focus today on the second largest of the levels of taxonomy. Let's take a closer look at kingdoms and see how living things on Earth are classified.

The Monera Kingdom (sometimes broken into two: bacteria and archeobacteria) is made up of organisms that are only one simple cell. This kingdom that contains some of the smallest living things on Earth. Monera get their food by absorbing it through the wall of the cell. They are also able to make food by harnessing the sunlight's energy in the process of photosynthesis. Bacteria is an example of an organism in the Monera Kingdom.

This Protist Kingdom also has living things that are made up of only one cell. Protists are different, though, because they are able to move around. Protists also make their food through photosynthesis, and they can ingest other organisms as well.

A mushroom belongs to the Fungi Kingdom. It looks a bit like a plant, but it's pretty unique too. Unlike plants, fungi cannot make their own food. Fungi absorb their food from decaying material in the environment.

You're probably familiar with living things in the Plant Kingdom. Plants cannot move, but they can make their own food through photosynthesis. Examples of plants in this kingdom include a tree, a flowering plant, and a bush.

The final and largest kingdom is called the Animal Kingdom. Living things in the Animal Kingdom have many cells and ingest their own food. Animals range greatly in size as well.

Animal Kingdom

The Animal Kingdom is large, so it's organized into smaller subgroups. First, animals are divided into two groups: those with backbones and those without.

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