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
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.
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.
Ready for a fun way to review? Try out this station activity, or an interactive diagram.
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 live in the dry desert, so my students don’t come across fun organisms from the Fungi kingdom very often.
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.