Keywords: mammal, reptile, amphibian, bird, fish, and vertebrate; Lesson Plan Grade Level: second grade; Total Time Required for Lesson: 30 minutes; Setting: classroom

Goals for the Lesson

  • Students will identify characteristics from each of the five categories of vertebrates.
  • Students will group animals by categories.

Materials Needed

  • magazines with wildlife photographs
  • posterboard
  • chart paper

State Standards Addressed: Ecosystems and their Interactions (4.6)

Teaching Model: Focus - Explore - Reflect - Apply Learning Cycle (National Science Resource Center; National Academy of Science & Smithsonian Institute, 1992)

Subject Covered: science

Topics: animal classification, five categories of vertebrates


  • Have students give examples from each of the five categories of vertebrates (mammal, reptile, amphibian, fish, and bird).
  • Then have them discuss characteristics of each vertebrate (mammal: fur, warm blooded, lungs to breathe; amphibians: smooth skin; reptile: scaly skin, lay eggs; bird: feathers, lay eggs; fish: cold blooded, aquatic, scales; etc.).


  • Have students find vertebrate pictures in the magazines with wildlife photographs and put in appropriate category. Each student should find one vertebrate for each category.
  • After pictures are on the poster board have the students check that they have the correct characteristics to be in the specific category.


  • Have students discuss why they made the decision to put their pictures in each category.


  • Have students in small groups make their own charts with pictures and characteristics to represent what was learned about each of the five categories of vertebrates.


  • All groups will share chart with class to explain what they learned and what they used to represent all five of the different vertebrates.


  • Knowing and finding one example of each of the five different vertebrates will assess the students. They will also have to know some of the characteristics of each.


Youngfleish, Kristi L., and Margaret Clark Brittingham. Wildlife Is All Around Us: Book 1, The Wildlife Detective. The 4-H Wildlife Conservation Program, Unit 1, The Pennsylvania State University.


Chad Packer, Bald Eagle Area School District