"Animal Classification"

AUTHOR: Sandra J. Rost, Lewis-Arriola Elementary School, Cortez, CO

GRADE LEVEL: Primary (K-3)

OVERVIEW: Students report finding the study of science "boring and difficult", They do not seem to have a working knowledge of how to go about discovering answers to questions about the scientific world around them.

PURPOSE: This lesson will help students become familiar with the need for categorizing scientific information, in this case, animals.

OBJECTIVES: Students will categorize the 6 groups of animals. (Mammals, fish, birds, reptiles, amphibians & arthropods).


  1. Films, filmstrips, or slides about animals. (Must include all 6 categories of animals.)
  2. Live or mounted animals from each category. (State Division of Wildlife Agency and public zoos may be able to help you find these.)
  3. Magazines: 2 per child (Make sure the magazines have plenty of animal pictures in them.)
  4. Scissors

ACTIVITIES: Discuss with students the process of separating animals into groups or categories so that they are more easily studied and discussed by scientists and others.

Explain that the following activity will help students learn about the categories of animals. * Do not give any clues at this time as to how animals are to be categorized. Students will come up with their own unique system of grouping.

Divide students into small groups of 3-5. Give each child 1 or 2 magazines that have a lot of animal pictures in them. (National Geographic, Outdoors, Field and Stream, etc.) Students in each group look through the magazines and cut out any pictures of animals that they find. Have students keep a common stack for their group.

After all pictures have been put into a pile, each group divides their pile of pictures into 5-7 smaller categories. This is done through small group discussion and consensus.

After each group has categorized their pictures, bring the entire class back together and let have one person from each group explain why they grouped their pictures as they did. (They will come up with groupings by color, size, shape, extinct or not, eating habits, living habits, size of ears and tails, etc. They will come up with categories you and I would never dream of!

TYING IT ALL TOGETHER: Show a film to the class about the actual categories that scientists have divided animals into.

Discuss these groups and why it helps scientists to have animals broken down into smaller groups.

Show students live or mounted animals. (Mounted samples are often available through state wildlife agencies.)

Have students bring in pets that fit the various categories and discuss them.


Thanks, Sandra, for such a great lesson plan.

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Thanks for the assistance and thanks for the great work!