Classification introduces students to this useful tool that scientists use to keep track of information. Students will discover why this is useful and practice classifying different objects themselves. They will also learn the stages of classification and will be able to list their uses.

In the “Options for Lesson” section on the classroom procedure page, you will find several suggestion that you can add to or alter in your lesson. One suggestion is to have students walk through the school and try to spot examples of classification. You can also describe how people classify things in other subject areas, such as reading or mathematics.

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What our Classification lesson plan includes

Lesson Objectives and Overview: Classification explores a few different ways to classify things into groups. Students will discover why classifying is a useful tool. They will also learn to identify the stages of classification. This lesson is for students in 4th grade, 5th grade, and 6th grade.

Classroom Procedure

Every lesson plan provides you with a classroom procedure page that outlines a step-by-step guide to follow. You do not have to follow the guide exactly. The guide helps you organize the lesson and details when to hand out worksheets. It also lists information in the yellow box that you might find useful. You will find the lesson objectives, state standards, and number of class sessions the lesson should take to complete in this area. In addition, it describes the supplies you will need as well as what and how you need to prepare beforehand. The only supplies you will need to provide are the handouts and scissors. You will also need to gather various objects for students to classify for the activity.

Option for Lesson

The “Options for Lesson” section of the classroom procedure page lists several ideas or suggestions for extra activities or alternative ways to go about the lesson. Some of these relate specifically to the activity portion of the lesson. One suggestion is to group students in threes instead of pairs. You could also set up different stations for the activity. Another option is to incorporate additional hands-on activities to further help students understand classification. For a more active option, you can walk students through the school and ask if they can spot examples of classification. You could also discuss how other subject areas classify things. One last option is to identify other process skills that students use during the class activities.

Teacher Notes

The paragraph on this page provides a little more guidance on the lesson plan. It suggests you have students engage in hands-on activities when possible so that they understand why classifying is so important. You can use the blank lines on this page to write down last-minute thoughts or ideas you have before presenting the lesson to your students.


Science Process Skills

The Classification lesson plan contains four pages of content. The first page defines science process skills and why they are important in the field of science. These skills include observing, predicting, identifying variables, and more. Scientists aren’t the only people to use these skills. Historians, researchers, investigators, and the students themselves use them too.

Students will recognize that they use science process skills any time they use one of their five senses to describe something or predict what might happen in a day. And whether at home or at school, they experiment. When they compare their stuff, such as a cell phone, to that of a friend, they are experimenting and identifying variables that make one object better or worse than the other.


Classifying is also one of these useful skills. The lesson explains to students that, when they were an infant, they probably classified people into two groups: those they knew and those they did not. Babies may not be aware of the skill, but they certainly manifest its use when they react differently to people in one group versus the other.

The lesson then describes how people continue to use this skill as they grow up. Children might start organizing toys a certain way or the food on their plate. Maybe they put their clothes in a specific place according to style or function, such as putting their socks in one place and their shirts in another. It also notes that another word for classify is sort.

In science, sorting things into categories or groups is classification. There are several reasons that scientists classify objects. Doing so helps them prevent losing things or misplacing new information. It also helps them recognize what is the same and what is different among things. Classifying also increases their awareness of how objects relate to each other. It is the basis for all concept formation, which provides a clearer understanding of what they are classifying or grouping together.


There are three stages of classification: single stage, multistage, and serial ordering. Single stage involves separating objects into two or more subsets according to something observable. For instance, scientists can classify clouds into three basic groups—cumulus, stratus, and cirrus. Binary classification sorts objects into just two groups according to whether an object has a certain trait or does not.

Multistage involves separating sets of things into two or more subsets and repeatedly sorting the objects. It can include several layers or stages. Animals in the animal kingdom are a good example of this. Animals that are vertebrates are further split into reptiles, mammals, birds, fish, and amphibians. Birds can then be split into other smaller categories, such as birds that migrate versus those that do not.

Serial ordering involves ordering objects based on the extent of one property, such as age, weight, or size. As an example, people can place trees in a specific order according to average height from tallest to smallest or vice versa. They can sort rocks from lightest to heaviest, food from sweetest to most sour, and so on.

Using Classification

One of the most familiar uses in science relates to the biological classification of plants and animals. There are seven major levels of classification, and scientists can classify every living organism using these levels. The lesson shows a chart listing the seven levels and where humans fit on it.

The seven levels are kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species. Humans are a part of the animal kingdom, just like lions, tigers, and bears. However, not all animals are primates, as humans are. And not all primates fall into the hominidae family. Students can review the tree diagram on the bottom of the page to see where various animals relate to one another.

Another common example of classifying is the periodic table of elements. Scientists group certain elements together according to their common traits or properties. They sort the elements from lightest to heaviest and also classify them according to whether or not they are metal, non-metal, or metalloids. They can also group them by their state of matter. Then they can further group the solids, liquids, or gases into smaller categories.


The Classification lesson plan has three worksheets: an activity worksheet, a practice worksheet, and a homework assignment. Each of these handouts will help solidify students’ comprehension of the lesson plan material. You can refer to the guidelines on the classroom procedure page to determine when to distribute each worksheet to the class.


Students will work with a partner for the activity. First, they will review each stage of classification. Using the charts on the worksheet, they will classify the alphabet, the 50 states, and other items of their choice. Next, they will cut out the letters on the other worksheet for the alphabet portion and use the list of states for that portion. After completing the activity, the students will share their worksheets with the class.


The practice worksheet has a few sections. The first section requires students to answer 10 questions. The second section lists five sentences in which students must fill in the blank. For the last section, students must write a short paragraph explaining why classifying animals and plants is important.


For the homework assignment, students will practice classifying many different things using both the single stage method and the multistage method. The first portion involves classifying numbers in two ways using the single stage method. The next portion lists a number of food items, and students will classify them in two different ways using the multistage method. For the last portion, they will search around their home or neighborhood and write down 10 items that they will classify using the multistage method.

Worksheet Answer Keys

The last few pages of the PDF are answer keys for the worksheets. The answer key for the activity provides sample responses. Students’ responses may vary widely. The practice worksheet answer key provides the correct answers in red. There will also be some variation to students’ responses on a few of the questions, but most of them should mirror the answer key. For the homework worksheet, the answer key provides sample responses again for the first two portions of the assignment. If you choose to administer the lesson pages to your students via PDF, you will need to save a new file that omits these pages. Otherwise, you can simply print out the applicable pages and keep these as reference for yourself when grading assignments.

Additional information


4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade


Science, Video

State Educational Standards

LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.4, LB.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.4, LB.ELA-Literacy.RST.6-8.4

Lessons are aligned to meet the education objectives and goals of most states. For more information on your state objectives, contact your local Board of Education or Department of Education in your state.

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I love the Classification set. I'm teaching science and I am NOT a science teacher. Your packets help me make the class interesting for my students!!! So worth it!

Teacher S.

Animal Classification Review

Great, loved it. Well worth downloading and using in class, students really enjoyed it and learned so much from it.

Susan B.

Animal Classifications

I have been using the materials from Clarendon for several years. I teach science 4 - 8th grade. It is an extremely valuable resource. Worksheets and homework and teacher resources are fantastic. I have recommended Clarendon to all of my fellow teachers and the best's all free!! Well done, and thank you Clarendon!!

melody c.

Animal classification

It was great. I will keep looking for more resources

Julie D.

Good stuff

Love Clarendon learning.