Two great kingdoms

  • Durée de préparation 15 minutes
  • Durée de réalisation About one hour
  • Niveau d'enseignement
    Elementary: Cycle 2
    Elementary: Cycle 3
  • Domaine de formation
    Environmental awareness and consumer rights and responsibilities
  • Domaine d'apprentissage
    mathematics science and technology
    English as a Second Language

Matériel requis

- Two white boards or large pieces of cardboard – small rectangles of paper, of two different colours (e.g., Post-it notes)

Intention pédagogique

Help students refine their understanding of biodiversity.


Classify plants and animals in order to better understand what biodiversity is.

Part1: Species diversity
Use questions or examples to help the students discover that living things can be divided into two broad kingdoms: the animal kingdom and the plant kingdom. Divide the board or cardboard in two, one for each kingdom.

Have the students find other distinctions/classifications within each kingdom (e.g., animal kingdom: fish, birds, mammals, reptiles, insects, etc.; plant kingdom: trees, flowers, fruits and vegetables, etc.) Write these distinctions on the board in the form of a tree.

Work on the animal kingdom first. For each of the different categories found in this kingdom, have the students name several species they know and that live here (e.g., fish: trout, salmon, pike, etc.; birds: robin, crow, woodpecker, duck, turkey, etc.). Write down some of the species on the board, placing them in the appropriate category on the tree.

Next, divide the class into teams of three or four and assign a different category of animals to each team. Have the teams find about 10 animals they know in the category assigned to them and write the name of the animals on small pieces of paper. Have about 10 pieces of paper for each team.

While the students are working in teams, divide another board or piece of cardboard in two sections, representing water and earth (like a Venn diagram). Then have each team stick their papers on the board where each animal lives (water or earth). When both are possible, have them place the paper in the middle of the diagram.

Now work on the plant kingdom. Have each team find 10 or so common plant species, without necessarily assigning a specific category to each team. Have them write these species on bits of differently coloured paper. Have the students place the plant species on the same board as the animal species, eliminating duplicates as you go.
Ask them the following questions:
Are all of the species that live here on the board?
Are there many others? – Help them to realize that there are millions of others.
Ask them if they think there are other types of living things that are not included on the board. Help them realize the species diversity on the board and the even greater diversity that exists in the environment. Explain that biodiversity is the variety of all the species that exist.

Part 2: Ecosystem diversity
Ask the students if they think the same species live everywhere on earth. Then ask them to name some species that live elsewhere but not here (e.g., dolphin, koala, eucalyptus, banana, scorpion, etc.).

Explain that all the species that live in one environment form what is called an ecosystem. This is where all species live and find their food (e.g., Robins eat worms and tend to build nests in dense shrubs or trees). Help them realize that there are many different kinds of ecosystems, such as deserts, savannahs, places with marine or tropical climates, or ice fields, and have them name several species they might find in these ecosystems.
Explain that diversity is also the variety of all these ecosystems.

Part 3: Diversity within species
Among the species that the students have placed on the board, select a well-known one (e.g., dogs or apples). Then ask the students if all the individuals of this species are the same (i.e., if all dogs or all apples are the same). Have them name several varieties (e.g., dogs: poodle, beagle, St. Bernard; apples: McIntosh, Granny Smith, etc.). Explain that biodiversity also includes variations within species.
Sum up by writing the following three sentences on the board:
Biodiversity is: – the variety of all species, – the variety of all ecosystems, – the variations within species.




United Nations Environment Programme
World Conservation Monitoring Centre

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