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Variety of Life on Earth Lesson Plan

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Lesson Plan #: AELP-BIO0104
Submitted by: Andrea Leicht and Kim Peterson
Email: aleicht@selway.umt.edu; kimba@selway.umt.edu
School/University/Affiliation: University of Montana, Missoula, MT
Endorsed by: Lisa Blank
             University of Montana, Missoula, MT Date: November 3, 1999

Grade Level(s): 3, 4, 5, 6


  • Science/Biology

Duration: one 50-minute session Description: This lesson was designed for the fifth grade level, but could be easily adapted to suit many grade levels. It focuses on the investigation of organisms and the 5 kingdoms.

Goals: To incorporate the following national and state science standards:

a. Unifying Concepts and Processes: Systems, order and organization.
b. Science as Inquiry: Understanding and using abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry.

a. Content Standard 1: Students conduct and communicate scientific investigations.
b. Content Standard 3: Students demonstrate knowledge of characteristics and structures of living things.

Objectives: Students will:

1. define all living things as organisms.
2. investigate and organize organisms according to similar characteristics.
3. identify the 5 kingdoms as well as an example of an organism from each.


  • Discovery Works textbook, grade level 5. Chapter 2.
  • Various magazine pictures slides and other examples of organisms
  • Students will need science journals.

Procedure: Scientific Explanation:

How are all living things defined? All living things can be defined as organisms. Organisms can be found in oceans, forests, deserts, mountains, soil, air- almost everywhere on Earth. All organisms can be classified, or grouped, into five large groups, called kingdoms. Organisms placed in the same kingdom share certain characteristics, or features. The five kingdoms include animals, plants, fungus, protist and moneran.

Focus Phase:

Students will have 2 min. to list as many living things as possible in their science journals. Then students will contribute their findings in a class brainstorm. The findings will be recorded on the white board. Ask: What is one word that defines all of these living things? Desired response is organism.

Challenge Phase:

Students are challenged in groups to investigate images of organisms and organize them into categories based on similarities and previous knowledge. The number of categories remains undefined. Students are encouraged to use logic and reason when categorizing. Once students have established categories they will be required to record their finding in a journal entry listing specific groups and characteristics.

Concept Introduction Phase:

Ask students to share their categories. List all the various categories on the white board. Then ask: Can any of these categories be combined into broader groups? The final goal is for all of the various categories to be combined into the 5 kingdoms. Students will then be ready to refer to the text for the actual scientific classification of organisms.

Concept Application:

Students will then be required to rearrange their original findings according to the accepted scientific classification from text. Students will record new accurate classification groups and appropriate characteristics in their journal.


Students’ performance of hands on classification in groups and individual journal entries will be evaluated.