Grouping Animals

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SWABT describe how animals are alike and different by using the characteristics of animal classification.

Big Idea

How are animals alike and different?

Setting the Stage

National Science Education Standards

The lesson focuses on how organisms have different structures for different functions.  Second grade students learn that animals need their basic needs met such as food, water, air, and shelter.  This lesson is important because students learn that animals are classified in groups depending on their characteristics. 

Next Generation Science Standards

This lesson addresses 2-LS4-1: make observations of plants and animals to compare the diversity of life in different habitats. This lesson is imperative because students learn about the various characteristics of animals. Those characteristics can determine what kind of habitats the animals can inhabit.

Science and Engineering Practices in NGSS

This lesson addresses SP 1: asking questions and defining problems. Students ask questions based on observations to find more information about the natural world. In this lesson, students learn that animals have special features and characteristics that helps them adapt to their natural world. 

Background Knowledge:

Students have learned that organisms have basic needs. Animals need food, air, water, and shelter. They also know that plants need air, water, nutrients, and light. They are learning that organisms need to live in a particular environment to meet their needs. This lesson permits students to learn how animals are classified. Also, they describe how animals are alike and different.



10 minutes

Students are provided with play dough and instructed to create their favorite animals out of play dough.  They are provided with 2 minutes to create their animals. Here are the students animal creations: butterfly, worm, and dog. This helps students to continue to work on fine motor skills as well as motivate students through the arts. Then, the students talk to their elbow buddy about their favorite animals and why they like it.  Here is the talk to your buddy video. Then, I permit some students to share. I ask the students- How are the animals alike and how are they different?

If you have access to BrainPop Jr, your class can observe this film. If you do not have access, you can use this video .

After the film, the students are asked- How are animals grouped?   Students should say that animals are classified, or grouped, as mammals, reptile, amphibians,  and birds. Then I have the students to discuss the characteristics. As they discuss the characteristics, I create an anchor chart. The anchor charts serve as a visual for the students and they can reference to it. 




35 minutes

Students are placed in groups of 4. I assigned the leader and the groups select the recorder, reporter, and manager (time keeper).  They placed group assignment tags on their shirt with a clothes pin. The students wear the labels so they can take ownership of their role. Also, it helps with classroom management.

In this investigation, groups use the science process skills: sort or classify, communicate, and observe. I provide groups with various animal cards which they will sort into the right categories, and black cards to use for writing sub-headings on them.

The groups observe 16 picture cards and classify the animals based on their characteristics. After students sort the cards, they write a sub-heading for each group (i.e.  mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians).  Here is the student work: Animal Classification. The groups are provided with a chart, so they can record their findings from the Animal Classification Cards. This helps students to record and classify their findings. Students can recall taught concepts when they create or use a graph.

As groups collaborate, I facilitate their learning by asking: how were you able to decide which pictures belonged together? and how many ways did you classify the animals? See the students working-Animal Classification video.

In rotating to each group, I provide students autonomy and I can check for misconceptions and their understanding.



15 minutes

While groups are sitting at their tables, I permit groups to share how they classify the animals. I listen to ensure that students classify the animals in the following groups: reptiles, mammals, birds, and amphibians. Groups discuss the animals characteristics.

Students are provided their science journal to write and draw pictures of their favorite animals and tell how they are alike and different.  I observe the students' science journal to make sure that students tell how the animals are alike and different.