Young Arctic hare at Polar Bear Pass, Nunavut.
Grade 6 Activity
a PDF version of this activity sheet (170 Kb PDF)
Download a PDF version of
the example table (140 Kb PDF)
Download a PDF version of
the example system (230 Kb PDF)
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At one time or another, all students have had to classify something. During this activity, they will use their imaginations to create a classification system for dividing various Arctic-dwelling animals (including the Arctic hare) into categories.
Emphasis will then be placed on the Linnaean classification system, which is still used today.
Link with the Common Framework of Science Learning Outcomes
- 206-1 -- Classify according to several attributes and create a chart or diagram that shows the method of classifying.
- 300-15 -- Describe the role of a common classification system for living things.
- 300-16 -- Distinguish between vertebrates and invertebrates.
- 300-17 -- Compare the characteristics of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fishes.
Links with Other Subjects
- Social Studies (Geography)
Approximately 45 minutes, not counting student work time.
Before conducting this activity in the classroom, you
will need to explore the Web site Ukaliq:
The Arctic Hare (http://nature.ca/ukaliq).
You may need to exploit other resources to obtain information
on the different animals you have chosen.
Before conducting this activity in the classroom, you will need to:
- visit Ukaliq: The Arctic Hare
and read the sections relating to the activity: Characteristics
and, Naming and Classifying,
- draw up a list of a few Arctic-dwelling animals (e.g. Arctic fox, polar bear, walrus, Arctic wolf, Snowy Owl), cut out the words so they can be put up on the chalkboard and check the classification of each animal. Consult the example classification table that gives you information on the scientific nomenclature, as well as the example classification system. Note the absence of certain categories: the information pertains only to the aforementioned animals.
If you are not familiar with Linnaean classification (kingdom, phylum,
class, order, family, genus and species), seek further information.
- computer with Internet access
- paper and pencils
- ask themselves about Arctic-dwelling animals and the
Arctic hare in particular
- use their imaginations to create a classification system
- learn more about Linnaean classification
- know how to use a dichotomous classification system
- consider the advantages and disadvantages of the different classification systems.
Explain that today you will be talking about Arctic-dwelling
animals and the Arctic hare in particular. Ask the students
what they know about these animals and list their answers.
Answers may include the differences between rabbits and
hares, or references to their biology and the climates
in which they live.
During the first part of the activity, students will get
into teams and create a classification system that they
will use to classify the chosen animals. Encourage them
to be creative. They must not use the Linnaean system or
even the Internet. Then, ask them to present their classification
systems to the class and discuss the pros and cons of each
example. You could also discuss Carolus Linnaeus (Carl
Explain to students that Linnaeus is usually regarded
as the founder of modern taxonomy and that his classification
system is still used today (albeit with a lot of changes).
Discuss the fact that organisms are first divided into
five kingdoms (Animalia, Plantae, Fungi, Protista and Monera)
and then each kingdom is separated into phyla, classes,
orders, families, genera and, finally, species.
Then, hand out the sheet of the classification system
that you have prepared, or use the example Linnean classification
system provided. Ask students to choose an animal and find
the scientific name of the species (the Latin name) by
answering the questions. To prevent them from simply looking
for the name on the sheet, ask them to write down the steps
they took to obtain the answer or to explain each one of
the required answers.
In conclusion, go over all of the examples of classification
that have been touched on during the activity. Bring out
the key features of each system and discuss the reasons
why the Linnaean system is still used today.
Suggestions for Student Work
Have the students pick four new organisms and create another
classification system, which you will correct. Focus attention
on the logical sequence of questions.
Expanding the Lesson
To reinforce what has been learned so far, do the same
type of activity, but with a different class or phylum.
For example, use fish, amphibians or reptiles.