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Introduction to Animals

Last Updated: Sep-06-2010

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Developed By

  Linda Craun

Lesson Title

  Introduction to Animals

Length of Lesson

  3 days

Lesson Unit

  Comparative Morphology







Grade 2


Subject 2


Strand 2

  Life Science

Michigan Content Expectations

  B2,4B, B2,4C


  animal, vertebrate, invertebrate, symmetry



Animals are multicellular organisms that lack cell walls, are heterotrophic, usually reproduce sexually and can move. They are described as either vertebrates or invertebrates. They are classified by degree of cell specialization, number of tissue layers, type of symmetry, and most recently, by sequencing of rRNA.


Big Idea(s)


The diversity of animals follows a continuum of structure, from simple to complex, with a predictable arrangement of cells, tissues, organs, systems, and body plans.


Essential Questions


Do the similarities and differences found in the animal kingdom support the theory of evolution? How?


Learning Objectives

  • Identify important characteristics of animals
  • Identify features found only in chordates
  • List the structural features that taxonomists use to classify animals
  • Compare symmetry, segmentation, and body support in invertebrates and vertebrates
  • Compare respiratory and circulatory systems of invertebrates and vertebrates
  • Compare digestive, excretory, and nervous systems of invertebrates and vertebrates
  • Contrast reproduction and development in invertebrates and vertebrates

Summative Assessment


Prepare a slideshow or digital story presentation of the eleven phyla of animals in the animal kingdom.

  1. Porifera
  2. Cnidaria
  3. Ctenophora
  4. Platyhelminthes
  5. Rotifera
  6. Molluscs
  7. Annelids
  8. Nematodes
  9. Arthropods
  10. Echinoderms
  11. Chordates

Include a relevant picture, body structure (symmetry, body cavities, etc.).


Resource(s) available for this section

Lesson Opening


Have students look at a photograph of an interesting animal (non-mammal), such as a the Sally Lightfoot crab. Have students name some similar animals they are familiar with. Ask how the crab shown in the photo differs from those. List some of the anatomical differences between crabs and humans that are obvious from the photograph.

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Each group is to make a Google Presentation of the Animal Kingdom. Include a title, description, representative picture, type of symmetry, and an interesting fact about the phyla. The presentation will have a title page, one slide for each of the eleven phyla, a sources page, and a credits page.


To get started:

  1. Provide students with a web-access computer.
  2. Either log in to Google Accounts, or make a new account (each member of the group does this).
  3. Introduce Google Docs, which has a Presentation function. Group members can access the Presentation, make changes, and present it; all while on different computers in different locations via the web.
  4. One group members starts the Presentation, then invites the other group members using the Share button. The slideshow can be accessed simultaneously through different computers for collaborative work.
  5. Groups work on the above Presentation, which will be presented via the class website.



Exploration Co-teaching Plan


Co-teacher assists students getting a Google account, joining a presentation, or contributing pictures/info to the slideshow.


Check for Understanding


Use the attached website to go over nine of the animal phyla. It included pictures and a quiz at the end.

Resource(s) available for this section



Included is a teacher-written powerpoint, describing animal morphology.

Resource(s) available for this section

Explanation Co-teaching Plan


Guided student notes are provided for students requiring more support. Corresponds to the Explanation powerpoint (Intro to Animals).




Students share their Presentation projects, either in class, or via the class website. Review the big idea: animals range from simple to complex, with increasingly more organized structures. Body plans, symmetry, and structures are related to the organism's environment and its function in that environment.