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Classifying Animals in 6 Days: A 1st Grade Hands-On Homeschool Lesson

written by: Alicia • edited by: Laurie Patsalides • updated: 7/9/2012

Teaching animal classification should be provided in a visual lesson as much as possible, as children may understand and retain information better when it is presented visually. Each day the student will study one animal classification and add it to a large bulletin board.

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    This lesson can be taught through several lower grades. If you are homeschooling more than one child, then both of the children can participate in this lesson. Just do not expect the younger child to have to remember all of the details that the older child is required to memorize. This lesson series covers mainly vertebrates. A lesson on invertebrates can follow for students ready for the next level.

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    Begin With an Overview

    Teach the children that all animals can be placed into six categories. The categories are Mammals, Birds, Fish, Reptiles, Amphibians, and Insects. Next, explain that scientists have grouped these animals together based upon similar characteristics. Tell the children that they will learn the characteristics of the animals for six days, one category at a time.

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    Day 1: Mammals

    Characteristics: They have backbones (vertebrates). They feed their young through milk. They are warm blooded and have hair.

    Examples of animals that fall into this category are, elephants, dogs, cats, whales, kangaroo's, tigers, bears, lions, monkeys, gerbils, and hamsters.

    On the bulletin board list, Day 1 and the title, "Mammals". Have the children cut pictures of mammals from nature magazines and tape them onto the bulletin board. The student(s) can then review the characteristics (and older students can find even more characteristics) and list them underneath the pictures that they have added to the bulletin board.

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    Day 2: Birds

    Characteristics: They have a backbone (vertebrates). They have feathers which are called barbs. They are also warm blooded animals.

    Examples of animals that fall into this category: Geese, Sea gulls, Eagle, Parakeet, Parrot, Arctic tern, Sparrow, Blue Jay, and Robins.

    On the bulletin board, list Day 2 and the title, "Birds". Have the children cut pictures of birds from nature magazines and tape them onto the bulletin board in the proper category. Then the children make a list of the bird's characteristics to place underneath the pictures of the birds.

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    Day 3: Fish

    Characteristics: They are cold blooded. They have scales. They have backbones (vertebrates) and can breathe under water.

    Examples of animals that fall into this category: Tuna, Angelfish, Black Sea Bass, Salmon, Herring, Catfish, Cod fish, and an Eel.

    On the bulletin board, list Day 3 and the title, "Fish". Have the children cut pictures of fish from a Field and Stream magazine. Tape the pictures onto the bulletin board in the fish category. Then the children make a list of fish characteristics to place underneath the pictures.

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    Day 4: Reptiles

    Characteristics: They are cold blooded. They breathe through their lungs. They have scaly skin and/or claws.

    Examples of animals that fall into this category: Snakes, Crocodiles, Alligators, Lizards, and Turtles.

    On the bulletin board, list Day 4 and the title, "Reptiles". Have the children cut pictures of reptiles from a nature magazine. Tape the pictures onto the bulletin board underneath the reptile category. Then the children make a list of reptile characteristics to place underneath the pictures of the reptiles.

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    Day 5: Amphibians

    Characteristics: They have smooth slimy skin. They begin life in the water, but finish it on land. They have backbones (vertebrates). They are cold blooded.

    Examples of animals that fall into this category: Frogs, Toads, Salamanders, and Mudpuppies.

    On the bulletin board list, Day 5 and the title, "Amphibians". Have the children cut pictures of amphibians from a magazine. Students place the pictures underneath the heading. Then they report amphibians characteristics by writing them below the pictures.

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    Day 6: Insects

    Characteristics: They have six legs. They have three body parts. They have wings.

    Examples of animals that fall into this category: Bees, Wasps, Dragonflies, Beetles, Flies, Butterflies, and Ants.

    On the bulletin board, list Day 6 and the title, "Insects". Have the children cut pictures of insects and tape them underneath the appropriate heading. Have them list the characteristics of the insects below the pictures.

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    You may wish to continue the lesson by teaching on the differences between vertebrates and invertebrates.