Diversity of Living Things
Classification - Introduction
Scientists use classification systems to help understand the world we live in. Classification is a part of the science of taxonomy. Taxonomy is the science of grouping or organizing things. Whether you realize it or not, you also use classification systems in your daily lives. Generally, classification is the placing of similar things into similar groups or organizing things based on their characteristics or on specific criteria. When objects are classified they are put into groups with other objects that have the same attributes (characteristics).
Here is an example. If you had a jar of buttons and you dumped them onto the floor, how would you sort them? By size, colour, the number of holes? Perhaps by shape or maybe by a combination of characteristics such as large, red and with four holes.
Another example. You know quite a few people. Some are friends, acquaintances, you have family and relatives you know teachers, other adults and some you may even dislike. Notice how these people have been classified.
Very often we use a "tree diagram" to help us classify in an orderly way.

Life Systems - Grade 6
Classification - Living Things
There are over 1.7 million species of living things in our world. As mentioned previously, scientists have arranged all living things into a classification system based on their physical characteristics. All living things are divided into 5 Kingdoms  which  in turn are divided into phylum, then class, order, family, genus, and finally species. Below you will find a general explanation of "The Taxonomy of Living Things.

KINGDOM     >     PHYLUM     .>     CLASS     >     ORDER     >     FAMILY     >     GENUS     >     SPECIES 
                                       ( King   Philip   Came   Over   For   Good   Spaghetti. )

Here is the beginning of a Living Things Tree Web.
Living Things
-3 types of
ie: mushrooms,
mold, yeast
-most are microscopic
-plant life
-animal life
Now, the next category is called Phyla. Each of the 5 kingdoms is then divided into several phyla. The phyla category begins to break-up the animals, plants, bacteria etc. into smaller groups. A few examples of phyla in the animal kingdom are: Arthropoda (spiders, insects, crustaceans); Mollusca (clams, snails, squid); and the most common phylum, Chordata - animals with backbones (mammals, reptiles, fish, amphibians, birds).

After phyla, is Class which breaks up animals into more groups that you would find familiar.  The phylum Chordata is broken down into several classes. Here are four examples of the classes found in the phylum called Chordata: Reptilia (reptiles), Mammalia (mammals), Aves (birds),  and Amphibia (amphibians).

The next category is the Order. Each class is made up of orders. The Mammalia class can be broken down into  Primates (monkeys), Perissodactyla (horses, zebras) Rodentia (rats, mice), Chiroptera (bats), Insectivora (moles), Carnivora (dogs, cats, weasels),  Artiodactyla (cows), Proboscidea (elephants) and several more.

After Order is Families. The order Carnivora can be broken down into several families such as Ursidae (bears), Mustelidae (weasels, wolverines), Canidae (dogs), Felidae (cats), Hyaenidae (hyaenas, wolves) to name a few.

The next category is the Genus. The family Felidae (cats), for example, can be broken down into Acinonyx (cheetah), Panthera (lion, tiger), Felis (domestic cats) etc.

After genus is the final category of Species. The genus Panthera (lion, tiger) is broken down into Panthera leo (lion) and Panthera tigris (tiger).

(view toxonomy in chart form)

Classification Activites:
(three of them)
Science Homepage
Grade 6
Needs and characteristics
of Living Things, and
The Animal Kingdom

email me
Excellent Links for this Unit
What Tree Is It?
Super Site
Science with Dr. T - Invertebrates
Science with Dr. T - Vertebrates
Classifying Arthropods
The Animal Kingdom
Toronto Zoo Meet the Animals
Introducing Classification
Characteristics - Vertebrates and Invertebrates
Animal Groups
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Reptilian Site (kid's Zone)

1) Scavenger Hunt

2)  Keying Out Leaves
3) Interactive Game