Classification of Organisms: Interactive Model

By Laura Hospitál on Mar 09, 2015

This model utilizes boxes of increasingly smaller size to represent the levels of biological classification.  It should be introduced after initial instruction on biological classification has occured.  

Please also see an excellent activity by Kate Fraser on classification.



Finding appropriate boxes to build this model may be the most challenging part.
1.  Make braille and 36 pt  bold large print labels as follows. The number of labels for each level of classification will depend on the number of boxes utilized.  This will vary.  The pictures don't show braille label paper utilized but it would probably last longer.
  • KINGDOM - 1
  • PHYLUM - several
  • CLASS - several
  • ORDER - several
  • FAMILY- several
  • GENUS - several
2.  Label the large box in braille and large print - "KINGDOM"
3.  Label the next size smaller boxes in braille and large print- "PHYLUM"
4.  Label the next size smaller boxes in braille and print - "CLASS"
5.  Label the next size smaller boxes in braille and print - "ORDER"
6.  Label the next size smaller boxes in braille and print - "FAMILY"
7.  Label the small envelopes in braille and print - "GENUS"
8.  Place a small model of an organism (insect, frog, etc) into one of the envelopes.


  • Braille label paper
  • Braillewriter
  • Copy paper or card stock. 
  • 1 large box (kingdom)
  • 3-4 medium size boxes which fit into the larger box (phylum)
  • 2-3 small boxes which fit into one of the  phylum (order)
  • 2-3 smaller boxes to fit into one of the order (class)
  • 2-3 smaller boxes to fit into one class (family)
  • 2-3 small envevlopes to fit into one family (genus)
  • 1 model of an insect (or other organism) to fit into one genus (species)


Box representing a kingdom and several boxes representing phyla.

Box representing a phylum containing several boxes representing classes

Box representing an order containing several boxes representing families

Box representing a  family containing several envelopes representing genera

Small envelope representing a genus and grasshopper model representing a species

1.  After instruction on classification of living organisms, explain to the class that the large box you are presenting to them represents one of the 6 kingdoms.  Have a diagram (LP and Braille) from the text of classification levels available for the students as needed.

2.  Tell students that as we look at this model, they will review the levels and determine which kingdom this box represents.

3.  Have students each remove one of the "phylum" boxes and read the labels.

  • Ask - Is there only one phylum in this kingdom?- "No"  When students respond, explain the relationship between kingdom and phylum using examples from your textbook or discussion from class. Explain that there are usually more than one phylum in a kingdom but that the exact number varies in each kingdom. There are 35 phyla in the animal kingdom and 10 in the plant kingdom.

4.  Have students open up the phylum which has several classes inside. 

  • Ask - What is the next level? Students will read the labels.  Again, describe the relationship between phylum and class. 

5.  Continue with the boxes labeled order and  family and discuss as students open and read the boxes.

6.  Have students open up the boxes labeled family. Inside they will find several small envelopes labeles "Genus".  Again discuss the relationship between family and genus.  Within one of the genus envelopes, they will find one small model of an animal. (See picture - I used a grasshopper but any small model will do.) Describe the relationship between genus and species. Tell students that within this genus there may be other species.

7.  Closure -  Ask - What kingdom did this box represent?  "Animal kingdom"  Discuss the correct classification of the organism they discovered. 

  • If you are using a neumonic to teach this content, remind students of it and review the levels of classification several times.
  • Have students write the neumonic and the levels of classification from Domain to species.  One neumonic that a former student of mine crafted has really stuck in my memory.  It may be used along with this activty.
  • "Don't Kiss Popeye Cause Ollie Feels Greatly Sad."
  • domain, kingdom, phylym, class, order, family, genus, species
  • This neumonic includes domain according to the current classification system.


NGSS Standards:

LS4.A.  Anatomical similarities and differences between various organisms living today and between them and organisms in the fossil record, enable the reconstruction of evolutionary history and the inference of lines of evolutionary descent.

classification of organisms collage


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