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Classification Lecture and Beginner Activity

Classification of animals is a way to put them into groups that share the same traits. This is an important way to see how animals are related to each other. They are divided using traits or characteristics (like whether or not they have a backbone).

The way we classify animals and plants was created by a scientist named Linnaeus. The Linnaeus system classifies plants and animals on seven levels using Latin and Greek words. With the development of genome science, the biological connection between animals is beginning to alter and over time there will be a more accurate classification system. But, for now, scientists accept the classic Linnaeus system which can be shown in the following way.

All living things are classified on the seven levels:

  • Domain
  • Kingdom
  • Phylum
  • Class
  • Order
  • Family
  • Genus
  • Species

An example of how this works in an Eastern Chipmunk is:

  • Domain: Eukaryota
  • Kingdom: Animalia animal
  • Phylum: Chordata has a backbone
  • Class: Mammalia has a backbone, nurses young
  • Order: Rodentia has a backbone, nurses young, long, sharp front teeth
  • Family: Scuridae has a backbone, nurses young, long, sharp front teeth, bushy tail
  • Genus: Tamias has a backbone, nurses young, long, sharp front teeth, bushy tail, climbs trees
  • Species: striatus has a backbone, nurses young, long, sharp front teeth, bushy tail, climbs trees, stripes



Try this simple Classification Activity with your class, using a simple dichotomous key.



Student Assessments  

National Science Content Standards

1. Unifying Concepts And Processes Standard

Conceptual and procedural schemes unify science disciplines and provide students with powerful ideas to help them understand the natural world.

K-4 Systems, order, and organization, Evidence, models, and explanation, Change, constancy, and measurement, Evolution and equilibrium, Form and function

3. Life Science Standards

Science subject matter focuses on the science facts, concepts, principles, theories, and models that are important for all students to know, understand, and use.

K-4 Characteristics of Organisms, life cycles of organisms, organisms and environments

5-8 Structure and function in living systems, reproduction and heredity, regulation and behavior, populations and ecosystems, diversity and adaptations of organisms

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