Identifying Plants and Animals


Identifying Plants and Animals teaches students about the traits that differentiate plant species from animal species. Students will discover facts about species in both groups of living organisms. They will also learn that there are a number of similarities between the two categories of organisms as well.

You will find several ideas in the “Options for Lesson” section that you can incorporate into the lesson. One such idea is to adjust the activity instructions and allow students to create posters that include information that answer the questions on the worksheet.

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What our Identifying Plants and Animals lesson plan includes

Lesson Objectives and Overview: Identifying Plants and Animals explores the characteristics that define species within both the plant and animal kingdoms. Students will discover what traits differentiate a plant from an animal. They will also be able to compare and contrast species from each group. This lesson is for students in 2nd grade and 3rd 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.

Options for Lesson

The “Options for Lesson” section lists a number of ideas and additional activities that you can incorporate into the lesson if you have time or want to extend it. A few of these options relate to the activity portion. While students would normally work in pairs for the activity, you may choose to let them work alone or in small groups instead. And instead of a chart, students could create posters that answer all the questions on the activity worksheet. You could pair up students or groups of students to share what they learned with each other rather than have each student or group present to the whole class. Another option is to display images of various plant and animal species or show a video and have students name the species and offer a fact about it. If possible, one more fun idea is to obtain a class pet for a few weeks, as well as a plant, that students can observe and write about daily.

Teacher Notes

The teacher notes page provides an extra paragraph of information to help guide the lesson. It reminds you that while students may know about these topics, they may not fully understand what differentiates plants from animals. It also suggests you teach this lesson along with others that relate to the subject matter. You can use the blank lines to write down any other ideas or thoughts you have about the topic as you prepare.


Living Organisms

The Identifying Plants and Animals lesson plan contains a total of three pages of content. The lesson begins by describing living things, such as people, their pets, the plants around home and school and nearly everywhere else. It asks students what all these things, or organisms, have in common. Then it asks them if they can tell the difference between something that is living and something that is non-living.

Students will see that they and their pets and all living organisms share a number of the same characteristics or traits. Every living organism consists of cells, uses energy, grows or develops, responds to stimuli, and reproduces. In addition, all living things need nutrients, air, water, sunlight, and shelter or protection to survive.

The lesson displays a chart that describes the five initial traits that living things have in common. Cells live, die, and get replaced with new cells. These make up all living things. Organisms also use energy as they move and grow. They receive that energy from food. From the smallest organism to the largest, all grow, change, and develop over time. They also respond to the environment, use senses, move, and adapt. Finally, every living organism reproduce offspring.

As humans, we are considered animals or part of the animal kingdom. Our bodies consist of various types of cells such as skin cells or blood cells. We constantly use energy whether we move around or sit still. We grow and develop, becoming bigger and stronger over time. Our senses help us respond to our environment. And we have the ability to reproduce or create offspring.

Plants are living organisms too, meaning that they consist of cells, use energy, grow, respond to the environment, and reproduce. However, they are not the same as animals. Unlike animals, plants do not make sounds or move the way animals do. They also don’t eat the way animals eat. It is pretty easy to identify whether an organism is a plant or an animal by comparing or contrasting them.

Plants vs. Animals

At one time, all living organisms fell into either the plants or animals category. It is the most basic classification of living things. Scientists have further classified plants and animals into other groups. Learning the differences between a plant and an animal makes it easier to recognize the wide variety of living things in this world. Scientists believe there are nearly 9 million different species of living organisms on the earth. There are more species of animals than plants, with 8.7 million animal species versus 400,000 plant species. However, millions of species haven’t even been identified yet.

The lesson first reviews the common traits of plants. Nearly all plants take root in one place and don’t move on their own. They contain chlorophyll (which is the green coloring matter that helps them make food) and can make their own food. Plants give off oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide emitted by animals. The cells of a plant have a cell wall that encloses and supports the cell. Finally, plants have no senses, or, at least, they have a very basic ability to sense.

Nearly every animal has the ability to move freely in its environment. Animals cannot make their own food and instead depend on plants and other animals for their food source. They emit carbon dioxide, which plants need, and breathe in oxygen. Animal cells do not have cell walls as plant cells do. And animals have highly developed senses, as well as a nervous system (brain, spinal cord, etc.).

Sometimes these various characteristics of plants and animals are visible, but others require a microscope to observe properly. Because humans are animals, it is easier for us to identify other animals or plants. The lesson ends with a prompt asking students to imagine being a different kind of animal or a plant and to explain why they would choose to be that organism.


The Identifying Plants and Animals lesson plan includes three worksheets: an activity worksheet, a practice worksheet, and a homework assignment. Each one will help students solidify their grasp of the material they learned throughout the lesson. You can refer to the classroom procedure guidelines to know when to hand out each worksheet.


With a partner, students will complete a chart that contains rows of questions and two columns. You will assign the students one animal and one plant to research and find the correct information to answer the question for each row. Once all the students finish their charts, they can present their findings to the class.


The practice worksheet splits into three sections. For the first section, students will match definitions to the correct terms. They will use the terms from the options on the right side of the page. Next, they will decide whether characteristics represent plants (P) or animals (A). There is a total of 10 characteristics in this section. The final part requires students to list the five characteristics that all living organisms have in common and then draw one animal and one plant.


For the homework assignment, students will first respond to 10 questions or prompts. At the bottom of the page, there are six pictures. Students must determine whether each one is a plant or an animal.

Worksheet Answer Keys

The final pages of the document are answer keys for the practice and homework worksheets. The answers are in red to make it easy to compare them with the responses from your students. For the most part, there should be no variation, but some questions will differ because they do not have just one right answer. 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


2nd Grade, 3rd Grade



State Educational Standards


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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