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Scientific Classification Lesson Plans

By Kathy Foust

This science lesson plan introduces students to the concept of scientific classification. Use this science lesson plan to help students understand how to use the method of sceintific classification.

What is Taxonomy?

Teachers please review the following information with your students, then do the activity listed below to develop and understanding of scientific classification.

Taxonomy is a system used by scientists to classify all living things. This system is known as the system of scientific classification. Living things are classified in general categories that narrow down to specific categories, with criteria to met in each and every category. The categories of scientific classification are as follows from the most general to the most specific; Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus and Species.

If you start at the the most specific category, which is species and work your way up to the most general category of Kingdom, you will find that all living things falling into the same category of Species will fall into the same category in every other group as well. However, if you start at the most general category of Kingdom, not all living things that are in the same Kingdom will end up in the same species. For instance, a man and a woman are of the same species and will be in the same group in every category. Bears and cats will both be listed in the Animal Kingdom, but will not end up in the same species.

Taxonomy Activity

Teachers, please write the following questions on the board or ask them out loud to your students.

  • Would a dog and a cat belong to the same Kingdom?
  • Would a fern and a cactus belong to the same species?
  • If two trees are in the same Class, does that mean they are in the same species? Are they in the same Phylum?
  • A robin and a blue jay belong to the same Kingdom. Do they belong to the same species?
  • If four plants are in the same species, will they be in the same Order? If so, what other groups would they be in together?
  • An ape and man belong to the same Family. What other groups would they belong to together? What groups would be different?

When the activity above is completed, ask students what similarities the living things in some of the same categories share. What are some of the differences and how does this impact scientific classification.

Upon completion of this science lesson plan, students should have a grasp of the general idea of the system of scientific classification and how it works. This information will assist students as they complete the rest of the lesson plans in this series as well as any other science lesson plans where scientific classification is included. You may also wish to review this information at the end of the series of lessons to assess comprehension.