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20 October 2014
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Variation - lesson plan

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A Penguin
  1. To recognise similarities and differences in plants and animals.
  2. To classify living things according to observable characteristics.

National Curriculum

Sc2, 4a, 4b.


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Teaching activities


  1. Play 'What animal am I?' Think of an animal and invite the children to ask questions about the animal's characteristics to discover what it is (eg Does it have feathers? Can it swim?).
  2. Give the children two minutes to list as many animals as possible (race against the other table groups).
  3. Ask the children to sort the animals by category (eg animals that have fur) and to produce a Venn diagram to represent this.
  4. Give the children two minutes to list as many plants as possible.
  5. Discuss the following questions - Is a plant living? What is the difference between a plant and an animal? What can an animal do that a plant can't?
  6. Ask the children to group the plants they thought of by category (trees, flowers and so on).


  1. Play the Bitesize variation activity. Explain that the conveyer belt will show various plants and animals and that these have to be selected and sorted into different groups.
  2. Click on the first item and ask the children to say what it is and to name its characteristics.
  3. Read the categories together and decide where the item should go. Does everyone agree?
  4. Use the cursor to move the living thing into the correct category. Could it fit anywhere else?
  5. Categorise the other living things, asking different children to move the various items. Ask each child to justify the reasons for their choice.
  6. Form groups (each group will need a computer). Select and explain the activity as above. Work together to select the first item and place it in the correct category.
  7. When the children understand the activity, ask them to complete the rest of the activity at their own speed.
  8. Observe the children as they are working and question them about their choices.


  1. Ask the children to play 'What animal am I?' in table groups.
  2. Ask the children to play the Bitesize variation quiz to assess learning.
  3. Ask the children to complete the Variation worksheet (PDF 94KB).


  1. Watch Learning Zone Class Clips - Variation in nature.
  2. Ask the children to produce their own table of the similarities and differences between animal and plants.


Ask the children to create their own branching tree diagram to sort different animals.

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