Classification teaching resources

Worksheets and lesson ideas to challenge students aged 11 to 16 to think hard about classification (GCSE and Key Stage 3)

Some science teachers think classification is an uninspiring topic. However, it can provide an excellent opportunity to teach argumentation in science. Students can classify hypothetical/unusual organisms and defend their reasoning to the rest of the group. Students love to debate, and this topic offers plenty of room for argumentation.

Classification is also an important concept to master if students are to understand evolution. Organisms with shared features are likely to be related – indeed taxonomic groups should, and generally do, reflect evolutionary relationships. These groups can be useful in the search for medicines. Classification is therefore an important area of biology that has important implications for society.

We must strive to dispel the popular human-centric idea of Biology. As this tree of life shows, humans and indeed all animals make up a tiny fraction of all life on earth. Some of the most interesting organisms to students are outside of the animal kingdom.  

Who is this man and what did he do?

Who is this man and what did he do?

How to classify organisms using the five kingdoms

GCSE activity on the main features of the five kingdoms. Students are given a ‘pet’ organism to research. They meet with other class members to discuss their ‘pet’ and answer questions written on the board. This activity allows students to practice and develop their oracy. It is based on a lesson produced by Sophie Metcalf. (PDF)

GCSE worksheet on classifying organisms using the five Kingdoms (made in collaboration with Terry Baylis). This challenging activity reinforces the key features of the five kingdoms and presents students with an organism to classify. Students use their powers of reasoning to justify which kingdom the organism belongs to. (PDF)

Why do we want to classify organisms?

GCSE worksheet on the importance of classification. This serves as a good introduction to taxonomy. It shows the importance of plant taxonomy in the fight against human diseases. Here, we look at how taxonomy played a vital role in the production of anti-cancer drug Taxol. (PDF)