Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Crazy Classifications

Shannon Snow
Okaloosa County Schools


This classification idea provides ESE students with some much needed practice to show knowledge of characteristics of vertebrate groups. They cutout pictures of animals and identify which grouping that animal belongs in.


Complete specified Sunshine State Standards with modifications as appropriate for the individual student.


-Unlined paper (5 sheets for each student with several to spare), such as construction paper, card stock, or computer paper
-Magazines, newspapers, or other printed matter with pictures (several for each student)
-Glue sticks


1. Gather materials for activity (materials listed in materials section).
2. Make teacher made pictures of fish with fur or snake with feathers, etc.
3. Draw classification chart columns with these headings on the board or overhead: mammal, fish, amphibian, bird, and reptile.


1. Ask students if they have ever seen a fish with fur, or a reptile with feathers.

2. Show teacher made pictures of a fish with fur and a reptile with feathers.

3. Have students share what characteristics they would use to determine whether an animal was a mammal, reptile, bird, amphibian, or a fish.

4. Discuss the different characteristics of each group of animals. Make a chart on the board listing some of the characteristics discussed for each group of animals.

5. Model use of classification skills using different animals (dog, trout, lizard, frog, robin, elephant, etc.). Make sure that the students use the characteristic charts you developed earlier to determine the classifications. Let several students choose a different animal, and have them model how to classify them on the board.

6. Pass out materials needed for this activity (magazines, newspapers, other printed matter with pictures, scissors, glue, and unlined paper). Remind students they need to have a total of 10 to 15 pictures total, with at least one picture for each grouping of animals. Let students know that they will be assessed after completing their classifications.

7. Model how to label their papers with an animal grouping, one for each (mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and fish). Have the students label their papers.

8. Instruct the students to find pictures of different animals and cut them out. Have them place each picture on the appropriately labeled paper before they glue anything down.

9. Encourage them to go back and check their classifications with the classification charts you developed at the beginning of class. After they have rechecked, they may then glue their pictures to the papers.

10. During this time, move around the classroom to observe, give feedback, and make sure that they are using the classification charts correctly. Work one on one with those students who need the extra help or who donít seem to understand the process.

11. Collect papers and check to make sure that everyone understood the lesson before deciding whether to move on to the next lesson or to re-teach.


Student knows some characteristics of the vertebrate groups (mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians, and fish). Teacher can formatively assess whether the students have learned the lesson by observation and checking for accuracy after papers have been collected. Papers should have correct pictures glued under the correct headings (mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians, and fish). Some characteristics to look for under the heading mammals should be warm-blooded, gives birth to live young, they have a spinal chord, etc. Reptiles should have some of these characteristics: cold-blooded, scaly skin, etc. Birds these characteristics: feathers, lays eggs, builds nests, etc. Amphibians: lives on land and water, cold-blooded, etc. Fish: has scales, lives in water, has gills, etc.


1. This lesson may be used for many different classifying activities. For example: vertebrates/non-vertebrates, plant/animal, living/non-living, etc.
2. Supported level Ė Teacher may choose specific animals from magazines for the students to classify.
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