Teaching About the Phylum Group in Science Lessons

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Teaching What Phylum Is…

Teachers, read the following information to your students, then do the listed activity to enhance understanding of the group Phylum.

The group Phylum is the next group in scientific classification after the Kingdom group. Phylum is usually a term used for those living things classified within the animal kingdom. The plant kingdom refers to phylum as a division, but the basic concept is the same. There are several Phylum, subphylum and divisions in the scientific classification system and there are always being more added and changed as scientists find more detailed information.

To decide which phylum or division a living thing belongs to, the most well-considered criteria is structure and begins with the endoskeleton or absence of an endoskeleton. As you consider this, please understand that some animals are actually born with some type of spinal nerve or endoskeleton, but eventually lose it during their developmental process.

The Animal Kingdom

When considering the phylum of the animal kingdom the following are observed: Level of Organization (cellular, tissue and organ levels), Type of Body Plan (sac and tube within tube), Symmetry (asymmetrical, radial symmetry and bilateral symmetry), Body cavity, Segmentation and Jointed Appendages. A difference in even one of these factors can change the phylum that an animal is grouped into.

Phylum Activity

Write the following Phylum on the board. Ask students to identify animals that would fit into each phyla. Some examples of animals in each phyla are listed in parenthesis after each description of the particular phyla. Once students have done the activity, ask them to research the phylum Chordata and give a description of the phylum.

  • Phylum Porifera (sponges)

Asymmetrical without well-developed tissues, sac body plan with body wall perforated by pores, inner cavity lines by collar cells (Sponges)

  • Phylum Arthropoda (arthropods)

Exoskeleton, segmented body, jointed appendages (insects, crustaceans, arachnids and horseshoe crabs)

  • Phylum Annelida (annelids)

Segmented worms, coelomate having a digestive tract with specialized parts, bristles on each segment (earthworms and leeches)

After completing these exercises, students will have a better understanding of the scientific category of Phylum. Doing these science exercises will give them an idea of what criteria living things have to meet to fit into the classification of Phyla. This information will be very useful as they explore and compare the various levels of scientific classification.


  • Student teaching experience.

This post is part of the series: Scientific Classification Lesson Plans

This series on Scientific Classification provides a lesson plan to go with every level of scientific classification. Add these biology lesson plans to your science curriculum today!

  1. Scientific Classification Lesson Plans
  2. Scientific Classification: Kingdom Lesson Plans
  3. Scientific Classification Lesson Plan on Phylum
  4. Scientific Classification: The Concept of Class
  5. Science Lesson Plans: The Category of Order