Spring Lesson Plan #3: Grade K-2 (Classification Capers)
In this lesson students will use the lens of a scientist while exploring the Aquarium. Students will consider questions like ‘what animals have similar characteristics?’ and ‘how could we group them together?’. This learner-centered activity introduces the concept of classification in a supportive, structured manner.
Students Will Be Able To:
 group aquarium animals according to similarities in appearance
 conduct and record observations
 develop an understanding of classification
For students of this age we strongly recommend allowing the student’s time for free exploration. The Aquarium is a highly stimulating environment and if students are not given this time to roam and discover then they may be distracted and overexcited throughout the more structured part of this lesson. This also provides a chance for students to tune-in to the theme of the lesson, so remind them to keep their eyes peeled for animals that share common characteristics. Ensure students remain within their small groups, accompanied by adult chaperones at all times.
Exploring the Vancouver Aquarium (30-45 minutes). In small groups, have students explore the Aquarium galleries searching for the similar-classified organisms. After the students have had a chance to explore the galleries - meet in the pre-arranged meeting spot to discuss the student's experience
Class Re-group (10 min). In a pre-arranged meeting spot discuss what students saw in the galleries and common characteristics they noticed that some of the animals had with each other. Use an example, such as the similar characteristics of a beluga and dolphin.
Classification Capers Activity Sheet (20-30 mins). The activity sheet involves students observing a number of animals in their chosen gallery, before choosing 4 animals that share a common characteristic. For example, the 4 animals all have fins. Students record the common characteristic, the names of the animals and a sketch of each one.
Class sharing and reflection on-site (10 mins). Gather as a class in your pre-arranged meeting location for a whole-class discussion. This is an important time for students to share their observations and chosen groupings with you and their peers. Suggested guiding questions include:
What gallery did you visit?
What animals did you choose to group together? Why?
What were some characteristics that were different amongst the animals you chose?
- Science: Plants and animals have observable features (Grade K)
- Science: Living things have features and behaviours that help them survive in their environment (Grade 1)
- Science: living things have life cycles adapted to their environment (Grade 2)
- Science: Represent ideas and observations by drawing (Grade K)
- Science: Students make exploratory observations using their senses (Grade K)
- Science: Students communicate observations and ideas using oral or written language, drawing or role-playing (Grade 1 and 2)
- Science: Students make and record observations (with predictions through discussions) (Grade 1 and 2)
- Science: Adaptations of local animals that help them to meet their basic needs (Grade K)
- Science: the classification of living and non-living things (Grade 1)
- Science: Structural features and behavioural adaptations of animals in the local environment (Grade 1)
- Science: Understanding the similarities and differences between offspring and parent. (Grade 2)
Download the attached PDF here for the full lesson plan. Included in the document are suggestions for pre-visit preparation, working with chaperones, and tailoring the activity to suit your needs.
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