Primary resource round up: identification and classification

By Rachel Jackson posted 19-04-2021 12:02

Each Monday, I’ll be posting some resource suggestions for a different topic. This week it’s identification and classification.

f you are planning on teaching this topic, there are lots of resources out there to support learning about this area of the curriculum:

Start sorting and grouping things that children are familiar with such as toys, objects or even children themselves! This activity provides a wealth of ideas for teaching classification.  One example is to try sorting Liquorice allsorts and creating a simple key to identify them.

This example of Odd One Out activity from Explorify is a lovely way to lead into work on identification or classification of animals. Children observe images of 3 bats and say which they think is the odd one out and why. No answer is incorrect, it’s about children providing a reason for their answer.

Inspire children by finding out about the work of a real-life bee detective, who uses observation skills and classification keys to identify pests, which prey on bees. Find out about declining bee populations and the reasons for this, why bees are important to us and how classification can help us to stop bees from becoming endangered.

Browse the photographs on a website like Ispot to support identification of plants and animals that children find project. Filter for certain places so you can find out what is local or for a particular species, or even try a quiz.

Take part in a research project like Zooniverse where you identify species from the Serengeti by looking at their observable features. It is a great way of showing how classification is used by scientists today, when researching how populations change in certain areas of the world.

This presentation featuring photographs of many vertebrate species looks at the Linnaean classification system. It includes a game 'Guess Zoo' which helps children think about the characteristics of animals and how they are classified. Children could use cards of different animal species and try grouping them in different ways so they develop a sense that vertebrates are classified into groups according to similar characteristics. This would be a good way of leading children into creating their own classification keys using a set number of animals.

The differences between some animals may be quite subtle and a lot of them will not have been seen by children. This resource supports this by colour coding the identification sheets depending on the number of legs of the invertebrate. The guides usefully includes larvae so children can identify these as well as children may be unsure where to place insect larvae as they may look very different to the adult.

Finally these resources provide information about famous scientists including Karl Linnaeus, who spent years drawing, naming and classifying the natural world. Allowing children time to observe and describe things closely to help them classify is a great step to developing their enquiry skills. Explaining how things are different as well as the same is a key skill when classifying. Explaining why things are similar can be much trickier.