Box representing a phylum containing boxes representing classes.
Activity

Classification of Organisms: Interactive Model

Hands-on activity for students who are blind or visually impaired to learn about classification of organisms.

This model utilizes boxes of increasingly smaller size to represent the levels of biological classification.  It should be introduced after initial instruction on biological classification has occured.  

Please also see an excellent activity by Kate Fraser on classification

Materials

Preparation

Finding appropriate boxes to build this model may be the most challenging part.

1.  Make braille and 36 pt  bold large print labels as follows. The number of labels for each level of classification will depend on the number of boxes utilized.  This will vary.  The pictures don’t show braille label paper utilized but it would probably last longer.

2.  Label the large box in braille and large print – “KINGDOM”

3.  Label the next size smaller boxes in braille and large print- “PHYLUM”

4.  Label the next size smaller boxes in braille and print – “CLASS”

5.  Label the next size smaller boxes in braille and print – “ORDER”

6.  Label the next size smaller boxes in braille and print – “FAMILY”

7.  Label the small envelopes in braille and print – “GENUS”

8.  Place a small model of an organism (insect, frog, etc) into one of the envelopes.

Box representing a kingdom and several boxes representing phyla.
Box representing a kingdom and several boxes representing phyla
Box representing a phylum containing several boxes representing classes
Box representing a phylum containing several boxes representing classes
Box representing an order containing several boxes representing families
Box representing an order containing several boxes representing families
Box representing a  family containing several envelopes representing genera
Box representing a family containing several envelopes representing genera
Small envelope representing a genus and grasshopper model representing a species
Small envelope representing a genus and grasshopper model representing a species

Procedure

1.  After instruction on classification of living organisms, explain to the class that the large box you are presenting to them represents one of the 6 kingdoms.  Have a diagram (LP and Braille) from the text of classification levels available for the students as needed.

2.  Tell students that as we look at this model, they will review the levels and determine which kingdom this box represents.

3.  Have students each remove one of the “phylum” boxes and read the labels.

4.  Have students open up the phylum which has several classes inside. 

5.  Continue with the boxes labeled order and  family and discuss as students open and read the boxes.

6.  Have students open up the boxes labeled family. Inside they will find several small envelopes labeles “Genus”.  Again discuss the relationship between family and genus.  Within one of the genus envelopes, they will find one small model of an animal. (See picture – I used a grasshopper but any small model will do.) Describe the relationship between genus and species. Tell students that within this genus there may be other species.

7.  Closure –  Ask – What kingdom did this box represent?  “Animal kingdom”  Discuss the correct classification of the organism they discovered. 

NGSS Standards


LS4.A. Anatomical similarities and differences between various organisms living today and between them and organisms in the fossil record, enable the reconstruction of evolutionary history and the inference of lines of evolutionary descent.

By Laura Hospitál

Collage of classification of organisms

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