1.4.1.1 Characteristics

Grade: 
1
Subject:
Science
Strand:
Life Science
Substrand:
Structure and Function in Living Systems
Standard 1.4.1.1

Living things are diverse with many different observable characteristics.

Benchmark: 1.4.1.1.1 Characteristics & Behaviors

Describe and sort animals into groups in many ways, according to their physical characteristics and behaviors.

Overview

Standard in Lay Terms 

MN Standard in Lay Terms

Students will observe different animals and sort them into groups according to the way they look and act.

Big Ideas and Essential Understandings 

Big Idea

Some animals are alike in the way they look and in the things they do.  Other animals are very different from one another.  AAAS

General similarities and differences among organisms are easily observed. Children can focus on any attribute - size, color, limbs, fins or wings - but should gradually be guided to realize that for purposes of understanding relatedness among organisms, some characteristics are more significant than others. 

Understanding and appreciating the diversity of life does not come from students' knowing bits of information or classification categories about many different species; rather it comes from their ability to see in organisms the patterns of similarity and difference that permeate the living world.  STEM resources

Benchmark Cluster 

MN Standard Benchmarks

1.4.1.1.1  Describe and sort animals into groups in many ways, according to their physical characteristics and behaviors.

The Essentials

A slide show set to music that shows skeletons, a list of characteristics, habitat, tracks and life cycle of five classes of animals.  This would serve as a review of the way scientists sort animals and includes the life cycle standard (1.4.3.1).  The visuals generate discussion to reinforce how animals in a group are alike.

Correlations 

NSES Standards:  Life Science; Content Standard C:  As a result of activities in grades K-4, all students should develop understanding of: 1.The characteristics of organisms,

NSES p. 127

AAAS Atlas:             

The Living Environment: Diversity of Life

"Some animals and plants are alike in the way they look and in the things they do, and others are very different from one another." 

Benchmarks of Science Literacy: 

The Living Environment: Diversity of Life

Framework for K-12 Science Education

Organisms have characteristics that  can be similar or different. Young animals  are very much, but not exactly, like their parents  and also resemble other  animals  of the same kind. Plants also are very much, but not exactly, like their parents  and resemble other  plants  of the same kind. 2LS3.A

Common Core Standards

Language Arts:  Writing:  Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas:

Describe people, places, things, and events with relevant details, expressing ideas and feelings clearly.

Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.

Produce complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation, and respond to stories, poems, rhymes and songs with expression. (See grade 1 Language standards 1 and 3 on page 38 for specific expectations.)

Math:

Use basic concepts of measurement in real-world and mathematical situations involving length, time and money.

1.3.2.1  Measure the length of an object in terms of multiple copies of another object. 

Misconceptions

Student Misconceptions 

Organization of Living Things:

  • Only large land mammals are animals.
  • Penguins and turtles are amphibians because they are both in and out of water.
  • Whales, jellyfish, and starfish are all fish.
  • Behavior and habitat are criteria for classification.

 Michigan Science Teacher Association resources

Vignette

From: Lowry, L. (Ed.). (1997). NSTA pathways to the science standards. Arlington, VA: NSTA Press.

Go! An Example of a Classroom in Action

Harry Kelly's class has been studying various animals that live around the school grounds.  Today, Mr. Kelly has brought a small mammal, a hamster, into the classroom.  He guides the students on how to care for the hamster, helping them set up an appropriate cage, keep it clean, and teaching them how to feed the hamster a proper diet.

As the students care for the hamster, Mr. Kelly guides them by taking notes on its characteristics and behavior.  Each day, students discuss what the animal does and how it accomplishes what it needs to do. 

After the instruction on the care and housing of a small mammal, Mr. Kelly introduces other animals into the classroom.  Students go to the school garden to collect pillbugs or sowbugs for observation.  Soon, there are containers of grasshoppers, caterpillars, and earthworms.

The children learn about the different environments needed for each animal and what kind of care, including food, is required.  They observe how each animal behaves, what, when, and how it eats and when it sleeps.  They keep journals in which they draw pictures of the animals engaged in several activities.

It is not long before the children have discovered a good deal about the diversity of living organisms as well as the similarities in animals' needs (such as sleep and food).  They have also learned some important concepts about the care and keeping of animals for the purpose of study.

In this vignette, the instructor has built in formative assessment with the use of a journal or science notebook.  Students make entries to show  " how each animal behaves, what, when, and how it eats and when it sleeps."  To assess the students' understanding of the standard, provide pictures of the organisms studied, and then ask students to sort the animals in to groups by the way they look.  Have students glue the pictures based on this "classification."  Repeat the assessment but ask the students to sort the pictures based the way the animals act or behave.

Resources

Instructional Notes 

Suggested Labs and Activities

1.4.1.1.1

1.  Oberhauser, K. (1999). Sorting Animals. In Monarchs in the classroom. (p. 154). St. Paul, MN: University of Minnesota Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology.  

Students use pictures cut out from magazines or clip art to sort animals in various ways.  Eventually introduce them to the scientific categories.  Extension: create a bar graph of the actual numbers of organisms in each animal group. 

2.  Provide students with opportunities to observe one or more organisms and record their writing and drawing in a science notebook.  Using Science Notebooks in

Elementary Classrooms

3.  List as many different animals as possible. Point out to the students the broad diversity in the animal kingdom: insects, spiders, worms, mollusks, and vertebrates. One possibility is to play a game. One student is assigned the name of an animal. That student must use words, actions, or drawing to describe the animal. The other students try to identify it from the description.  The students could also be encouraged to watch for, and bring reports of, animals that they see when they are out of the classroom. When the gender of an animal is unknown, ask the students to refer to the animal as 'it', rather than using 'he' in a generic sense.  animal classes game

4.  Common Essential Learnings: Communication. The students will use their own language, and begin to incorporate the vocabulary of science, to list and describe the animals.

Collect pictures of animals. Have the students name the animals in the pictures. Then attach a card with the animal's name on it to the bottom of each picture for display.

common essential learnings: communication

5.  Common Essential Learnings: Critical and Creative Thinking. The students must compare their knowledge of characteristics of various animals with the characteristics of an animal in a particular picture, and decide whether there is a sufficient match to include the animal in the picture as a member of a known class of animals. A good question to ask here is "Can you tell me how you know that that animal is a (dog)?"

common essential learnings: creative and critical thinking

Instructional suggestions/options

97 Framework Life Science: "Close-up K-4."  An understanding of biological concepts begins through direct experiences with living things.  These experiences emerge from the natural questions that students ask and from teacher-directed exploration of familiar environments within the natural world.  Students learn about the characteristics and life cycles of organisms by regularly observing them in the environment and recording seasonal changes throughout the year as well as by raising and observing them in the classroom.

Science Notebooks: Provide students with opportunities to observe one or more organisms and record their writing and drawing in a science notebook. 

KWL: Use the observations as a starting point for your K "what do we know" about this organism.  Using the observations first activates students' prior knowledge.  This also correlates with the "Engage" phase of The 5E Learning Cycle.  (Llewellyn, D. (2007). Inquire within: implementing inquiry-based science standards in grades 3-8. Corwin Pr.)

Inquiry: Use questions from W "what we want to know" to create a question for an investigation.  Use the question format "How does/ Does _________affect __________?"  (writing questions for science investigations)  Common examples include: pillbugs in light/dark or wet/dray conditions, organisms alone or with another organism, providing organisms with different food choices.  (Stenhouse, S. (1993). Creepy crawlies and the scientific method: more than 100 hands-on science experiments for children. Fulcrum Pub.)

FOSS: Insects: All of the insect organisms allow for observations.  Completing more than one investigation with a different organism allows comparisons between the different types of insects.  FOSS Curriculum: FOSSweb insects

A lesson on animal classification for English language learners: Everything changes.

This lesson from The Academy of Natural Sciences classifying animals by their coverings: Fur, Feathers and Scales.

Instructional Resources 

Additional resources

    

Kalman, B. (2008). Is it the Same or Different? New York: Crabtree.

Berger, M. (1995). A Whale is Not a Fish and Other Animal Mix-Ups. Scholastic.

Theodorou, R. (1997). Animal Legs. Pearson Education.

Trumbauer, L. (1998). Who Lives in a Tree? Newbridge Discovery.

Carson, J. (2008). What is a Mammal? Rosen.

Parkes, B. (1998). Beaks. Newbridge Publishing.

Economos, C. (2000). Furs, Feathers, Scales, Skin. Pearson Education.

New Vocabulary 

Vocabulary/Glossary

  • Behaviors: the ways an organism acts or "behaves."
  • Characteristics: things that describes an object/organism.
  • Describe: tell how something looks, smells, feels, sounds or tastes.
  • Diverse: different kinds.
  • Feathers: covering for birds.
  • Fur: covering of hair for mammals.
  • Living: objects that grow, die, eat and reproduce, like plants and animals.
  • Observe: using your senses to tell what an object is like.
  • Scales: small flat pieces that cover fish and reptiles.
  • Sort: put objects in groups that are alike in some way.
Technology Connections 

Sheppard Software Interactive online game on classification of animals: animal classes electronic game

Electronic activity to classify animals: Cool science critters

Cross Curricular Connections 

Math and Writing Connections: 

A Teacher's Guide to Fur, Feathers, and Scales Outreach & Discovery Lesson Grades Pre-K - 2. This integrated unit has students classify animals by their coverings.  It includes a math counting lesson and writing prompts for language arts.

Physical Education Connection: 

Moving Like Animals. Moving like an animal stimulates the imagination, allows an opportunity to practice a variety of movements, and helps create empathy for the world's creatures. You can either designate the animal the children are to portray or allow them to choose the animal they would each like to be.

Assessment

Assessment of Students

Question 1:  (2 variations)

Make a graphic organizer with the headings: animals with fins, animals with fur

Make a Venn diagram with the headings: live in land, live in water, live in land and water

Question 2:  What are examples of different coverings animals have?

Question 3:  What are examples of different ways that animals move?

Assessment of Teachers

1.  What is the difference between living and nonliving?

2.  What are observable animal characteristics and animal behaviors?

3.  How can we implement science notebooks into our instruction with first graders?

4.  How can we encourage students to generate questions that lead to investigations?

Differentiation

Struggling Learners 

Struggling and At-Risk

Start the unit with an observation lesson.  Have all students write and draw observations of an organism they will study to activate prior knowledge.  See Special Education below.

English Language Learners 

Start the unit with an observation lesson.  Have all students write and draw observations of an organism they will study to activate prior knowledge.  See Special Education below.

Teach and review vocabulary; see: Fathman,, A.K., & Crowther, D T. (2006). Science for English language learners. Arlington, VA: NSTA Press.

A lesson plan for teaching the classification of animals to ESL students: animal classificaiton lesson for esl students

Extending the Learning 

Students needing more enrichment can use the scientific classification system to sort animals.  Vocabulary words to teach: backbone, vertebrate, invertebrate, mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish.

Students use this webpage to create a field guide: Insects; The Good, Bad and the Ugly.

Multi-Cultural 

Start the unit with an observation lesson.  Have all students write and draw observations of an organism they will study to activate prior knowledge.  See Special Education below.

Special Education 

Start the unit with an observation lesson.  Have all students write and draw observations of an organism they will study to activate prior knowledge.

What I Observe and Know

What I Want to Know

What I Learned

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parents/Admin

Classroom Observation 

Administrators

Administrators observing a class will see students sorting pictures of animals into groups and able to tell the characteristic or behavior used to sort them. 

Parents 

Sheppard Software Interactive online game on classification of animals.