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Teaching the Biological Kingdoms of Life

kindgoms and classification lesson plans for high school

Hey there biology teacher. It’s almost the end of the year, and you are on one of your last units: biological kingdoms and classification. Not super high interest. You are tired. How are you going to spice this topic up?! Don’t worry- I’ve got you covered.

But first, a disclaimer:

This may make some of you upset to read. And you definitely don’t have to agree with me. Ready?

I really don’t think it’s important for students to understand all the differences between archaebacteria and eubacteria. For the average biology student, I don’t think it’s a big deal to lump them together (Kingdom Monera, circa 1970’s). I always get hate DM’s on instagram when I post the word Monera. Yes, I know it’s gone, may it rest in peace.

Now, if unicellular organisms are your jam and you get pumped to teach them, do it! But for me, I discuss the major differences for about 10 minutes and move on. I’m telling you this because for some of the resources listed below, you won’t see a big differentiation between those two kingdoms.

Okay…. if you are still with me, let’s look at some lesson ideas for teaching the biological kingdoms and classification!

Biological Kingdom Lesson Ideas

classification read aloud

Have you ever read a kids book to your group of high schoolers? It may sound silly, but they LOVE it. I came across this book at the library on accident when I was looking for books for my daughter, and it is perfect for classification. In this book “Don’t call me bear!” a koala explains why he isn’t a bear. After finishing the book, have students discuss how and why we classify organisms.

kingdoms of life card sort

I always start the unit with this powerpoint and card sort activity. Students become familiar with the different kingdoms and general characteristics of the organisms in each. (Tip: You probably covered the characteristics of life at the beginning of the year, and it’s not a bad idea to circle back around here. All organisms in every kingdom should meet the requirements for “life” ). Students aren’t going to be able to tell the difference between 2 types of bacteria by looking at a picture, so for the card sort they are lumped together. You can find this lesson on my website or on TpT.

kingdoms of life stations

Ready for a fun way to review? Try out this station activity, or an interactive diagram.

The interactive diagram is great for absent students (virtual!) or kids that just need a refresher and extra practice. You can find this lesson on my website or on TpT.

The station activity is fun because students can get up, move around the classroom, and make observations about organisms in each kingdom. You can find this lesson on my website or on TpT.

protists-microscope

Want your students to observe protists? Save your money by NOT ordering samples from a supply company, and get your own colony growing. You just need a few simple materials: water, hay (or grass clippings), yeast, and sugar. Check out this blog post for a full set of directions. Your students will be screaming with excitement when they see hundreds of protists swimming around under the microscope.

Note: You will need to set up the hay infusion at least a week in advance, so plan accordingly.

I always throw a few video clips into my lessons, or you can post them on your LMS for students who need extra review. Check out this Amoeba Sisters video clip, or Crash Course clip on taxonomy.

lesson plan fungi kingdom

I live in the dry desert, so my students don’t come across fun organisms from the Fungi kingdom very often.

I ordered a grow your own oyster mushroom kit and the students were so excited to come in each day and see the progress. You can order them from Swampy Appleseed, or they can also be found on Amazon.

classification-photo-project

Last but absolutely not least, try a photo journal project. This is one of my favorite ways to engage students! Have students get out their phones and go exploring (you can do this on campus or have them do it outside of class at home). Students need to take 2 pictures of organisms in each kingdom (yes, group together the bacteria) and do a write-up of where they found it and how they know it belongs to that specific kingdom. You can find this lesson on my website or on TpT.

I hope one or two of those ideas helps you with your classification and taxonomy unit! If you want a few ideas for cladograms or dichotomous keys, check out these blog posts!

Rock on,

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Hi, I'm Becca!

I help busy science teachers get your prep back by providing you time saving lessons, labs, and resources.

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