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Tropical Ecology Institute


Belize Animal Classification Lesson

Grade Level: 2

Author: Tammy D. Lee, Greenville, NC


Scientists classify animals into different groups according to different characteristics or attributes, such as appearance, lifestyle, and origin. Students need to understand how to determine various attributes of animals and be able to group the animals before investigating various life cycles. This activity should be done after a lesson on vertebrate and invertebrate animals. Explain to students that they will be working only with vertebrate animals.


Internet access to download and print color pictures of vertebrate animals from Belize and North Carolina. Each group will need two sets of pictures to complete the activity and the evaluation; poster paper and glue.


Students will examine various pictures of vertebrate animals from Belize and North Carolina. Based on their observations, students will group animals into various categories according to the animals’ attributes. Students will assign names to their groups and explain their rules for making the various groups.


  1. Download and print pictures from Web site of vertebrate animals from North Carolina and Belize. Each group needs to have its own copies of the animal pictures.
  2. Have students form groups to begin sorting animals according to their attributes.
  3. Students need to develop rules for their various groups, and indicate them on the poster paper alongside pictures of animals that they have glued to the poster.
  4. Allow students to present their findings to the class.
  5. Discuss similarities and differences among each groups’ rules for classifying.
  6. Discuss which animals come from North Carolina or Belize. Are there any animals that come from both countries? How are these animals alike or different?


Give each group the rules that scientists use to classify vertebrate groups. Read the list with the students and complete one example for each group as a class. Then have students place the rest of the pictures into the indicated groups according to the rules.

  • Mammals: Has hair or fur, female has live babies, can live on land or in water
  • Reptiles: Scaly skin, female usually lays eggs, can live on land or in water
  • Amphibian: Smooth skin that needs moisture, female lays eggs, adult sometimes does not look like its parents, spends half its life on land and half in the water
  • Birds: Has feathers, female lays eggs, most can fly
  • Fish: Has scales, female lays eggs, lives in water


Have students individually draw their own vertebrate animal. Students must indicate the various attributes of their animal and indicate the group to which it belongs.


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