Introduction: Before studying taxonomy and nomenclature of
living things, students can first learn to classify shoes
into kingdoms, phylums, classes, etc. After they learn how
to classify shoes, students are able to understand why and
how living things are classified.
1. Have each student take off one of their shoes,
and toss it into a pile in the center of the room.
(You take one off, too!) (Some students may be shy
about this, just let them know that all feet are
funny looking and smell funny, we won't know the
2. Ask for three volunteers, and inform the class that
the volunteers will need their assistance in this
3. Have a fourth volunteer go to the chalkboard
to draw the classification scheme as the activity
4. Ask the class how you would divide the shoes into
groups, based on similarities. If they attempt to produce
more than 3 groups of shoes, limit them to 3. Ex: students
may divide them into sandals, boots, and tennis shoes.
After the three "Kingdoms" are decided, put these three
kingdoms at the top of the chalkboard, and put all of the
shoes into three piles. (No shoe is to be left alone in
a kingdom, force the shoe into one of those three categories
or whatever categories the students chose.)
5. Ask the class to divide one of the categories into sub
categories. For example, with boots there maybe be those
with pointed toes and round toes. These are "phylums." Draw
the phylums on the board.
6. Continue until every shoe is a species all by itself.
After this lesson, discuss the taxonomy and classification
of living things into Kingdoms, phylums, classes, etc. Make
sure the scheme on the board follows the lesson, so later
you can go back and label the shoes as species, classes, etc
7. This lesson can be re-inforced by students classifying
rocks and minerals (if you have some handy), marbles, or
even toys. It is a wonderful hands-on activity to get kids
of all ages to understand how life (and other things) are
organized and made easier to understand.
Feel free to email me with questions.