Lesson plan


Explore the diversity of living things through activities that highlight life's variation and compare the features of different living things.
Science content
Biology: Features, Adaptations of Living Things (K, 1, 3, 7)
Biology: Classification of Living Things, Biodiversity (1, 3)
Biology: Food Webs, Ecosystems, Biomes (3, 4)
Biology: Evolution, Natural Selection (7)
  • materials in the activities
  • tree of life (evolutionary tree) poster e.g. this one
  • for bones activities: human skeleton and other animal skeletons images
  • for plant smell molecules: real plants to smell

Activity grouping ideas:

Biodiversity (and Biomes)

Optional: Look at a Biome map, discuss their broad climate differences, then focus in on our temperate rainforest of the Pacific Northwest.
Optional: Sun's angle on earth activity to explain the differences in climate.

Model a food web of the temperate rain forest.

Living things in any biome will use camouflage to increase their chances of survival.
Do the camouflage challenge, outside if possible.

Also see Biomes lesson plan for alternate activity ideas on this topic.

Biodiversity and Food webs (and Life cycles)

Look together at Tree of Life poster, and note the diversity of living things, and how they are similar and different from each other.

Look at an animal very different from us: worm observation. It has no legs, no bones. It does not have eyes like us but can sense light. Worms are found all over the world. There are several thousand species of worms!

Find all the animals on the poster that do not have bones - a lot of them!
Now we'll look at an animal that does have bones (like us).

Build the deer skeleton.

Make a food web of what the deer ate before it died, what may have killed it (predator), and what ate it after it died (birds of prey and animal scavengers, rats, worms, bacteria).
Compare its skeleton to ours and other mammal skeletons - find similarities and differences.

Optional: Food web model of deer and other Pacific Northwest living things.

Review living things discussed using the Tree of Life poster.

Biodiversity and survival

Do a habitat survey with food web to highlight how many living things there are in a tiny square. Extrapolate to the larger world and the enormous amount of biodiversity.

Animals are often coloured like their surroundings to help them hide. Camouflage helps both predators and prey.
Students can use their same square for the camouflage challenge.

Animal biodiversity: Pond dipping and deer skeleton

Pond dipping activity
We’ll look at some living things in pond water.
Use ID sheets to find out what students discover.

Look at an Evolutionary Tree poster
Ask students to find an animal that was in the pond water e.g. shrimp, floating pond plant.
(Crustacea for cyclops, shrimp and Daphnia; duck weed is a monocot plant)

Through evolution, over lots + lots + lots of time, one living thing changed and gave rise to another.
(3½ billion years ago life started, 900 million years ago multicellular life, 6 million years ago humans.)

None of these pond animals have bones.
Now we'll look at an animal with bones.

Deer skeleton activity
As the bones are placed, ask students to find the same bones in their body.
Compare the completed deer skeleton with images of other skeletons - find similarities and differences.

Living things are diverse, can be grouped, and are all related to each other.

Plant biodiversity: Flower colours and plant smell molecules

Look around. There are so many different living things. Write down students' ideas.
All these different living things have evolved to survive. They all have features that enable them to get food and water, and grow.
There are many different ways of surviving in this environment, so there is a diverse group of living things here in Vancouver and the Pacific Northwest. Other places and environments have their own diverse group of living things that have evolved to live there.
We'll focus today on plants and some ways that they are diverse.

Flowers are many different colours. We'll explore some chemistry of their colours.
Flower colour activity
Summarize the activity: Flowers use just a few molecules that they mix and match to make all their colours.
Why do plants have all these different colours? Why aren’t they just all the same colour?
To attract different insects to them for pollination. Insects pollinate the flowers, which then make seeds, so plants can make more of themselves. To survive, living things need to make more of themselves, to replace them when they die.

How else do flowers attract pollinators, other than bright colours? Smells.
There is a diverse range of smells that plants make, to attract pollinators and for other functions.
Either smell plants and discuss what each of their smells are for, or do another activity:
Smell molecule posting game for younger students.
Matching plant smells and discovering their smell molecules for older students.


Deer skeleton and pond dipping activities also make up the Food Chains lesson, but with a different discussion focus.
Pond dipping and posting game also make up the Classification lesson, but with a different discussion focus.

Grades taught
Gr 2
Gr 3
Gr 4
Gr 5
Gr 6