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Life in the Garden: how to classify living beings?
Sunday 21 September 2008
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Couleuvre à collier {JPEG}Life in the Garden: how to classify living beings?


To know living beings can be grouped according to various criterions, some of which allowing a classification.


- to use a microscope
- to classify the animals and plants collected or observed, using the classification criterions.


- animals and plants collected during an outing in the garden
- Berlese funnel [1] (cf. description in the sheet)
- Photos of animals and plants to be classified


Beforehand: organise an outing in the garden. Collect humus beneath trees.

Back in the classroom, use the Berlese funnel to collect the micro-fauna (spiders, centipedes, insects…)

1. Define the notion of criterion

After having collected animals, suggest to the pupils to search criterions allowing the animal classification. Take insects as an example.

Observe with the microscope the animals collected and classify them into two groups: “insect" and “non-insect", trying to approach the notion of criterion used to classify them. Share the different propositions. Confront the children’s choices so as to end with the best criterion (three pairs of legs).

2. Classify the animals

Observe photos of animals. Use the listed criterions to put their names in the classification table. Work with the following list: birds, fishes, reptiles, insects, amphibians, mammals, worms, shellfishes, molluscs, arachnids, centipedes.

Which group does this animal belong to?

Cf Table 1

Then bring in other animal groups (that do not belong to the garden environment): jellyfish, sponge, and modify the table.

3. Classify the plants

Classify the garden plants using the same process.

After having collected a large panel of plants from the garden, suggest the children to search criterions allowing them to classify the plants.

Use the criterions listed by the pupils to build a classification table from the following list: moss, alga, fern, flower plants, conifer, lichen, and mushroom (mention that the scientists do not consider anymore mushrooms as plants).

Which group does this plant belong to ?

Cf Table 2


Capacity for the pupil to classify other living beings using classification criterions.

1- Device formed principally by a sieve and a light source that allows the ground micro-fauna to be collected.

Auteur : Jean-Michel Josse professeur de Sciences de la Vie et de la Terre, Lycée Français Charlemagne de Pointe Noire, Congo Brazzaville

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