animal classification lesson for elementary

Teach your kids how animals are classified



Sometimes a great homeschool science lesson just requires a few pictures and a willingness to sit back and let the kids go at it. This animal classification lesson is one of those types of lessons.  The kids took it and ran.


{This post contains affiliate links marked with a *.  For more information read my disclosure page}

This is actually a furtherance of our food web science lesson from earlier, or at least we taught it as part of the same unit in CKE Biology*.

How are animals classified

Animal classification lesson supplies

animal classification cards, index cards* (because I’ve been using index cards for everything lately, so I bought 1000 of them), markers*


Animal classification lesson

First I randomly passed out the cards while chanting “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.”  Then I gave them a few minutes to negotiate who got which card, because, while they didn’t throw a fit there was definite looks of jealousy as their siblings got their favorite animals.

Then I asked them what are some different ways you can classify animals?

Well, they went straight to where I was hoping to lead up to eventually: what they eat (herbivore, carnivore, and omnivore).  So I pulled out my handy dandy index cards and wrote the three categories on them.

animal classification by what they eat

Then they took turns putting their animals into the different piles.  Sometimes we had discussions on whether an animal belonged in omnivore or carnivore/herbivore.

animal classification by type
After all of the animals were categorized I asked if there were other ways to categorize animals, and after thinking for a little bit, and talking about Wild Kratts, which I swear they watch obsessively, they came up with: producer, consumer, and decomposer).  So, they carefully sorted the animals into the piles.  Very quickly they realized no animals are actually producers.  Most are consumers, and a few are decomposers.

Then because the lesson we were going to read was actually on this topic I asked if there was any other ways to categorize animals.  We’d covered this before, but it’d been several years, and after some poking and prodding and a reminder of the classification tree (Kingdom, Phylum, etc) they remembered animals are categorized by similarities and types.

making animal classification cards
This appeared in my Instagram feed 6 months ago, poor lonely post waiting to be written

So, I brought out my super duper cool phylum cards for the kids.  I’d spent a couple of hours drawing the various animals out, and was super duper proud of them.  The kids were like “Oh, that’s nice Mom,” and then promptly lost them when this lesson was done, which they later regretted when they had an open book test and didn’t have that information.

animal classification chart

They took their animal cards and sorted them out by phylum, carefully matching the animal types to their cards.  Not too surprisingly animal cards tended to veer towards mammals, reptiles, and other land animals, not so many worms or insects.

animal phylum cards for animal classification lesson
Click on the picture and you’ll get this cool PDF

Curious about some more animal classification lessons?

All of these can be found on my Biology pinterest board.


10 responses to “Teach your kids how animals are classified”

  1. Did you draw those phylum cards? They’re awesome! Thanks for sharing.

    1. I did. I searched pictures of representative animals from the phylum and drew it from a picture (I’m terrible at drawing from memory).

  2. Phyllis Bergenholtz Avatar
    Phyllis Bergenholtz

    The cards and the teaching method are both excellent! These cards could be useful for all sorts of biology activities (no pun intended ). Right now I am thinking of food webs with these cards and yarn…

    1. Oh food web would be interesting…

  3. You really have talent for drawing 🙂 Cool cards and a great activity. I wonder what classification would my daughter go with. I do not think they learned anything in school about animal classification yet.

    1. Thank you.
      It’s always interesting to me how kids classify things when given free range.

  4. Ticia, very cool cards!!

    Oh and thanks for linking to my blog too 🙂

    1. Glad to link to you 🙂

  5. Wow, Ticia! You are so clever…where on earth do you find the time for all of this. I know your blog has a super hero theme, so I’ve just renamed you Wonder Woman!!

    1. Ha ha ha, I spend a lot of time sitting on the benches at my boys’ Kung Fu lessons and get a fair amount of drawing then if I need to, that and sitting and watching TV.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *