Teacher Notes

Animal Kingdom

Student Review Games

Materials Included In Kit

Animal Kingdom deck of organism cards, 5

Prelab Preparation

Photocopy enough game directions for each group of students.


All materials may be saved and reused.

Lab Hints

  • Enough materials are provided in this kit for 30 students working in groups of six. All materials are reusable. At least one game can reasonably be completed in one 45- to 50-minute class period.
  • The phylum, Poriphera, is not included in the deck of organism cards. Although a variety of sponges exist, few students would know them by anything other than the common name of sponge.
  • The instructor should become familiar with the three games before students play.
  • For Go Fish, the three different worm phyla are grouped together to make a book—two annelids (earthworm and leech), one roundworm (hookworm) and one flatworm (planarian). For Concentration Classification, the roundworm and flatworm make a pair and the two annelids make a pair.

Teacher Tips

  • This is an excellent activity to have students perform during animal diversity or classification studies.
  • Have students make their own deck of creature cards to include a greater variety of animals.
  • Some taxonomists consider Osteichthyes a superclass of fish, with the ray-finned and lobe-finned fishes as separate classes.
  • Several mnemonics (memory-aiding devices) have been suggested to help remember the taxonomic groups. One such mnemonic is “Did King Phillip come over from Greece Saturday?” Have students make up their own mnemonic.
  • The following student laboratory kits can be used to further explore classification—Fun with Classification Kit (Flinn Catalog No. FB1783), Arthropod Classification (Flinn Catalog No. FB0765), and Classifying Living Things (Flinn Catalog No. FB1789).

Answers to Questions

  1. In each of the following groups of animals, three belong to the same class or phylum. Circle the one that does not belong and explain why.
  2. Imagine you are living in the late 1700s. A biologist returns from a scientific expedition and brings a description of a newly discovered animal. The description reads—four-legged vertebrate with webbed feet, body covered in hair, female lays leathery-shelled eggs, adults have no teeth, endothermic, female produces milk, no external ears, duck-like beak. Into which class would you place this animal? Give an explanation for your choice.

    This animal has characteristics of birds (no external ears, beak with no teeth), reptiles (leathery-shelled eggs), and mammals (hair, produces milk). Since hair and milk production are unique to mammals, this more likely belongs in the class mammalia. Note: This is actually the description of the platypus, first discovered by Europeans in the late 1700s. British scientists were convinced it was a hoax.

  3. For years, biologists debated whether the Giant and Lesser Pandas were related to raccoons or to bears, based on their physical characteristics. Today taxonomists rely more on DNA evidence to determine relationships among animals. DNA analysis places the Giant Panda with the bears and the Lesser Panda in its own family, more closely related to raccoons. Why are physical characteristics alone sometimes not enough to classify animals? Give some examples.

    Many animals have characteristics which are similar to more than one group. For example, whales have fins and no external ears, yet they produce milk and give birth to live young. Often the young form of an animal is vastly different than the adult, as with many amphibians and insects.

  4. (Optional) Search the Internet for animal species discovered within your lifetime. Choose one and write a brief report on the animal, including how scientists determined its classification.

Teacher Handouts


Student Pages

Animal Kingdom


What do you have in common with a rhinoceros, a bat, a killer whale and an armadillo? Besides being in the animal kingdom, you and these animals also belong to a group known as mammals. Nearly two million different kinds (species) of animals in the world have been identified. Biologists keep track of them by classifying them into groups of animals with similar characteristics. Learn more about the classification of different types of animals with these fun card games.


  • Animal phyla
  • Classification
  • Taxonomy


Keeping track of all the various species of animals and identifying relationships between them present a great challenge. Some scientists estimate that only 10% of all animal species have been identified and named! Thousands of new species are being discovered every year. How do biologists decide to which group each belongs?

The field of biology that identifies and classifies organisms into categories is called taxonomy (from the Greek word, taxis, meaning arrangement). The general classification system that taxonomists use today is based upon a system developed in the mid-1700s by the Swedish biologist, Carl von Linnaeus (1707–1778). He established a system of groups based on likeness in structure. Each group is a category into which related organisms are placed. Since Linnaeus’ time, the system of classification has undergone many changes, and the field of taxonomy is one that often results in disagreements. Eight major taxonomic groups are generally accepted today. They are (from most general to most specific) domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus and species.

The animal phyla represented on the cards are listed below, along with general characteristics of each. Three classes of the phylum Arthropoda are represented on the cards because of the numerous species that are known to exist (about one million). Six classes of the phylum Chordata are represented on the cards because they are the most familiar animals.

  • Cnidaria (ni DAR ee a)—Aquatic, body arranged in a circular pattern (radial symmetry), stinging tentacles, sac-like gut with only one body opening
  • Platyhelminthes (PLAT ee hel MIN thes)—Known as flatworms, body has matching right and left sides (bilateral symmetry), body cavity has only one opening, most are parasitic, some free-living
  • Nematoda (nem a TOE da)—Largest group of worms, known as roundworms, most free-living and some parasitic, bilateral symmetry, slender and tapered at both ends, body cavity has two openings
  • Annelida (uh NEL i da)—Worm-like body divided into many similar-looking segments, bilateral symmetry, soft outer body covering
  • Mollusca (mol LUS ka)—Soft-bodied, bilateral symmetry, internal or external shell, some with tentacles
  • Echinodermata (e KI no der MOT a)—Marine animals, radial symmetry, hard internal skeleton covered with a bumpy or spiny “skin,” unique water-vascular system with tube feet
  • Arthropoda (ar thruh PO da)—Animals with jointed appendages, exoskeletons
    • Class Arachnida (a RAK ni da)—Four pairs of legs, two body segments (fused in some species), no antennae
    • Class Crustacea (crus TAY she a)—Most aquatic, most have gills, one or two pairs of segmented antennae, very hard exoskeleton contains calcium and other minerals
    • Class Insecta (in SEK ta)—Three body segments, three pairs of legs, one pair of antennae, some have wings, more identified species than all other animals combined
  • Chordata (cor DOT a)—Animals with a dorsal (situated at the back) nerve chord, best known are the vertebrates (sub-phylum) which have an internal skeleton with a cranium and spinal column
    • Class Chondrichthyes (con DRIK thee eez)—Cartilaginous fish (skeletons made of cartilage), body covered in tiny sandpaper-like scales, external gill slits, ectothermic (internal body temperature changes with environment)
    • Class Osteichthyes (os tee IK thee eez)—Bony fish (skeleton made of bone), most have swim bladders to regulate density, gill slits covered, body covered with flattened scales, ectothermic
    • Class Amphibia (am FIB ee a)—Body covered with smooth skin, most young have gills, adults breathe through skin and/or lungs, most have two pairs of appendages, ectothermic
    • Class Reptilia (rep TIL ee a)—Body covered with dry scales, lay leathery-shelled eggs, no legs or four legs, breathe with lungs, ectothermic
    • Class Aves (Ay veez)—Body covered with feathers, front appendages modified as wings, beaks or bills with no teeth, no external ear structure, lay hard-shelled eggs, endothermic (constant internal body temperature)
    • Class Mammalia (mam MAY le a)—Body has hair, most give birth to live young, female produces milk from glands, most have external ear structures, endothermic

Experiment Overview

In this activity, animals from eight phyla and nine classes will be studied. Three different card games—Classification Concentration, Go Fish and Don’t Get Hooked!—will be played to learn more about the types of animals found in each group.


Animal Kingdom deck of “creature cards”
Classification Concentration game directions
Don’t Get Hooked! game directions
Go Fish game directions


See the game directions PDF for specific instructions for each game. Be sure to return all cards to the original container when finished with the game.

Student Worksheet PDF


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