Lesson Plan

Classifying Living Things (1-3 periods)

Students learn about how and why we sort living things into groups.
Sean A.
Technology coordinator
Robert E Peary School
Ridgewood, NY
Show More
My Grades Pre-K, K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
My Subjects English Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies
EdTech Mentor

Students will be able to...

  • Sort living things into a variety of specific categories such as plants, animals, vertebrates, invertebrates, reptiles, mammals, things that fly, etc.
  • Understand the reason and method scientists use to sort animals
  • Create their own list of animals sorted into appropriate categories
Grades K - 3
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes


Begin by asking students about the animals that they know. After receiving enough responses ask students what commonalities/differences those animals have. This discussion can be made visually engaging using an interactive (or regular) whiteboard. You can present images of animals and plants in categories using either Keynote, Google Slides, your whiteboard software (i.e. Notebook), or  PBS Learning Media Page on Animal Classes

You can then give students an overview of classification using an online video.

For beginner level students use BrainPOP Jr.

For advanced level students use BrainPOP.

Feel free to pause the video(s) and ask pertinent questions at any point.

After the video you can check for understanding using either:

BrainPOP Jr's Word Wall to review vocabulary for beginner level students 


BrainPOP's Make-a-Map to create a visual map for advanced students


Have the class, either collectively or in groups depending on your needs, begin sorting animals into simple categories such animals and plants or mammals, reptiles, and birds.

This can be done using Keynote, software for an interactive whiteboard, an interactive table, Sheppard Software's Animal Class game, or laminated photos and paper that can be grouped.


Student tablets should be set up in advance to allow for them to be programmed with student user info (unless your students are capable of doing it quickly and correctly themselves). Students will start on the appropriate mode (as designated by the teacher) and work their way through each level practicing classifying living things into a variety of categories.

If you're using iPads I recommend engaging guided access to keep students on-task and using the timer function so students stop when necessary.

If tablets aren't available there is a similar (but less modifiable) version on Science Net Links.


Depending on time and skill level, you can bring students back together to review what was learned.

Individually students can login to their classification quizzes on BrainPOP.  Using My BrainPOP with students will allow their results to be saved and reviewed.

For beginner level students use BrainPOP Jr.

For advanced level students use BrainPOP

EXTENSIONS: As a group or individually you or your students can use the sorting and quiz materials available on BBC Science.