- Big Ideas/ Enduring Understandings (EU’s)
- Essential Questions
- Content Outcomes Addressed
- Common Misconceptions
- Standards Addressed
- Background Information
- Pre- and Post-Assessments
- Activity 1: The Name Game (Part 1)
- Activity 2: Classifying Animal Cards
- Activity 3: The Name Game: Animals
Big Ideas/ Enduring Understandings (EU’s)
- Living things can be sorted into groups in many ways.
- Animals are grouped, or classified, by similar characteristics.
- How are organisms alike and different?
- How do different organisms meet their needs for survival?
- How can we use the observable properties of organisms to group them?
Content Outcomes Addressed
Students will be able to
- develop a simple classification system for grouping organisms.
- recognize that individuals vary within every species, including humans.
Students may think that humans are not animals.
- Disciplinary Core Ideas: LS1.A (3-5), LS3.A (K-2) (3-5), LS3.B (3), LS4.B (3-5), LS4.C (3-5), LS4.D (K-2)(3-5)
- Science and Engineering Practices: 1-8
- Crosscutting Concepts: 1, 4, 6
- Reading: RI.3.1, RI.3.7, RI.4.7, RI.5.7
- Writing: W3.7, W.3.8, W.4.7, W.4.8, W.5.7, W.5.8
- Speaking and Listening: SL.3.3, SL.3.4
- Mathematical Practice: MP.2
National Geography Standards:
There are at least five million species on Earth, and some scientists believe there could be double that number. A species is a group of animals that are more like each other than they are like any other group of animals. They can breed with each other but not with members of other species. A way of sorting through all those species is to organize them by similar properties, or characteristics. This process is called classification. The following is a list of properties for each group of animals.
- give birth to their young and feed them with milk.
- have hair on at least part of their body.
- have four limbs with digits ending in claws, nails, or hooves (except whales).
- breathe with lungs.
- are warm-blooded.
- lay eggs with a hard shell.
- are covered with feathers.
- have a beak.
- have two legs.
- have two wings used for flying (ostriches and penguins are flightless).
- have hollow bones.
- are warm-blooded.
- lay eggs with leathery shells or give birth to fully-formed young.
- breathe with lungs.
- are covered with scales.
- have no legs or four legs with clawed toes.
- are cold-blooded.
- lay eggs, usually in a jelly-like mass in water.
- breathe with lungs, gills, and/or their skin.
- have smooth skin without coverings.
- have four legs without claws or nails on toes.
- are cold-blooded.
- have three body parts: head, thorax and abdomen.
- have a single pair of antennae on the head.
- have three pairs of legs originating from the thorax.
- often have wings and can fly.
- lay eggs without shells in water.
- breathe with gills.
- are covered with scales or smooth, leathery skin.
- have fins but no legs or toes.
- are cold-blooded.
- classification: a systematic arrangement in groups
- species: a group of animals that are more like each other than they are like any other group of animals
- property: a special quality of something
- mammal: any of a class of warm-blooded vertebrates that include human beings and all other animals that nourish their young with milk produced by mammary glands and have skin usually with some hair
- bird: any of a class of warm-blooded egg-laying vertebrates with a body covered with feathers and forelimbs modified as wings
- reptile: any of a group of cold-blooded, air-breathing vertebrates (such as snakes, lizards, turtles, and alligators) that usually lays eggs and has skin covered with scales or bony plates
- amphibian: any organism that is able to live both on land and in water; especially, any of a class of cold-blooded vertebrates (such as frogs and salamanders) that in many respects are between fishes and reptiles
- insect: any of a class of arthropods (such as butterflies, true bugs, two-winged flies, bees, and grasshoppers) with a three-part body clearly divided into head, thorax, and abdomen; three pairs of jointed legs; and usually one or two pairs of wings
- fish: a cold-blooded vertebrate that lives and breathes in water and typically has a long, scaly, tapering body, limbs developed as fins, and a vertical tail fin
Pre- and Post-Assessments
Use whole class discussion time to develop a KWL chart (list of things students think they know about the topic, questions they wonder about, and as a culmination of the unit, a list of things they have learned about the topic.) Alternately, ongoing charts can, and should, be posted for students to record developing vocabulary, “burning questions,” and “ah-ha’s,” or significant learnings. Revisit these questions as the unit of study develops. Growth of understanding as well as misconceptions will be revealed.
To prepare for the following lessons, gather fields guides and other materials that show pictures and give information about classifications of animals and their properties. These should be displayed in the classroom for student use. Create a visual gallery of the animals that builds as the lessons progress.
Activity 1: The Name Game (Part 1)
(Source: ESS Elementary Science Study “Rocks and Charts”)
The Name Game (use p. 1 of Worksheet) is a fun way to introduce students to the concept of classification. Students will discover that every human has his/her own unique set of characteristics, or properties. This concept can then be carried over into the study of animals, where every species of animals has its own unique set of properties. By observing the properties of various animal species and through the process of elimination, students will be able to identify specific classifications of animals.
How to play the game:
- Choose five children to go out of the room (or to a corner of the classroom) with a clipboard, pencil, and paper.
- The children in the small group choose new names for themselves. These names could be any name, even names of objects. For example, Ashlynn could pick the name Sponge Bob.
- The writer writes down the made-up names in the left-hand column on page 1 of the Name Game Worksheet.
- The children come back to the room and give the teacher their list. They line up in front of the room.
- The teacher explains to the other students in the class that they will try to guess who belongs to each new name by asking “yes-no” questions.
- The teacher takes the list and asks, “What properties of these students can we ask questions about? Remember, the properties are characteristics that cannot change. The class suggests properties such as eye color, hair color, type of hair, etc. The teacher writes these properties in the gray squares across the top of the Name Game sheet.
- The teacher calls on one student at a time, who asks a question. The answer is written in the appropriate square on the Name Game sheet. For example, Student A: Does Runner have curly hair? Teacher: No. Student B: Does Aphrodite have curly hair? Teacher: Yes. Student C: Does Runner have straight hair? Teacher: No. Student D: Does Runner have wavy hair? Teacher: Yes. Student E: Does Aphrodite have blonde hair? Teacher: Yes.
- The game continues in this manner until the students have enough information to guess the identity of one student.
- Student E: May I guess who Aphrodite is? Teacher (who looks to see if there is enough information on the chart to make a guess): Yes. Student: Is Aphrodite Annie? Teacher: Annie, are you Aphrodite? OR Yes! Congratulations! Annie, would you please come up and help me answer questions? OR Annie, please sit down now. (writes “Annie” under “Aphrodite” in the box)
- The game continues until the students have guessed, one at a time, the identity of each student in the small group.
- Students love this game and want to play it many times. The next time, a student in the small group can be the person who answers the questions. Coach the students not to look at each other or smile, as that might give their identities away. You can also expand the number of properties to five, and use page 3 of the Worksheet.
Activity 2: Classifying Animal Cards
Animal cards drawn by students
- Students form small groups and take with them the animals cards that they created for Unit 1 (and perhaps other cards that you or your students have made of animals that live in your state). Ask students to group the animal cards based on one property. For example, make a group of animals based on the property of body covering. They might have animals that have fur and ones that have feathers. This will illustrate the concept of classification.
- Students report to the class about how they have grouped their animal cards.
- Ask the students to organize their cards in a different way and report back to the class. This will show them that there are many ways to group, or classify, animals.
- Note on a chart the properties that the students used to classify their animals cards. Some of the properties the students come up with might be those that are used in the conventional classification of animals.
Activity 3: The Name Game: Animals
- After becoming more familiar with the attributes of the classes of animals, students play the Name Game (from Activity 1) again, but this time, instead of using made-up names, they use animal properties and their classifications (mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian, insect, fish). The chart on page 2 of the Worksheet can serve as your template.
- Make 6 posters with a picture of an animal on one side and a letter (A, B, C, etc) on the other side. Hang them up side-by-side at the front of the room with just the letters showing. Students will fill in the chart on page 2 of the Worksheet as the game progresses. One student (or the teacher) is the spokesperson (and must know the properties of the animals) and answers the “yes-no” questions asked by the other students. Another student (or the teacher) acts as scribe and fills in the chart that the whole class can see. Students will also fill in their personal charts. As the students guess the classification of the mystery animal (eg. “Is Mystery Animal B a reptile?”), the spokesperson turns over the card to see the picture of the animal. The students or spokesperson decide(s) whether the guess is correct. If correct, the scribe puts the name of the animal and its class in the box with the mystery name (A, B, C, etc). The game continues until all the animals and their classifications are identified.
20 Questions Game: Mystery Animal
One person thinks of a specific animal and its properties and says, “I’m thinking of an animal.” The other students ask “yes-no” questions about the animal’s properties in an effort to guess its identity. Students use the classification properties used in previous games (lays eggs, has feathers, etc) or just ask, “Is it an amphibian?” and then use even more specific properties, such as color, size, how it moves, what it eats, where it lives, how it grows, etc., to help identify the animal. When the students have enough specific information, they may try to guess the animal’s identity. The student who asks the final question gets to take the guess. That person may have the opportunity to think of an animal in the next game.