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Scientific Classification Lesson Plan: Family

written by: Kathy Foust•edited by: Laurie Patsalides•updated: 4/28/2009

Use this science lesson plan to develop students' understanding of scientific classification, particularly the classification of family.

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    What is Family?

    Teachers, read the following information about the scientific classification of Family to your students. Then, do the included scientific classification activity with your class.

    What do you think of when you hear the word "family"? Chances are that you think of your own family at home or someone else's family. The word "family" means something different when it comes to scientific classification. Family is a group in scientific classification that comes before genus and after order. Those in the family group have enough similarities to belong in the same Family but not necessarily to the same genus or species. However, all living things that belong to the same genus and/or species do belong to the same Family.

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    Scientific Family Activity

    Teachers read the following information to your students or write it on the board.

    Humans are called Home sapiens in the scientific classification system. Homo is the genus and sapien is the species. Home sapien actually literally means "wise man" because man is theoretically the most intelligent species on Earth. Apes are not in the same genus and species as humans, but they do belong to the same family, Hominidae. Can you think of what differences there are in apes and humans that make it so that they are in different species? Can you think of similarities that these two groups share that would make them be in the same family?

    Discuss the similarities and differences of the following living things. Would these living things be in the same species or just the same family?

    • Chimpanzees, baboons, gorillas and orangutans
    • Blue spruce and white pine
    • fox, dog and wolf

    Note that as you get lower in the classification system, the requirements to belong to each group are more detailed. Do you see similar systems at work around you in every day life? If not, then think of tools. A hammer is a tool, but there are several varieties of hammers. Each type of hammer is made for a particular type of job.

Scientific Classification Part 2

This series on scientific clasification lesson plans is the second in a pair of series. Add these biology lesson plans to your science curriculum today!
  1. Scientific Classification Lesson Plan: Family
  2. Scientific Classification: Genus Lesson Plan
  3. Lesson on Species Classification