I would be remiss not to tell you that the Five Kingdom theme of classification is in flux right now. Various groups of scientists are proposing 6, 7, or even 8 kingdoms. Additionally, the use of DNA is creating a move toward a whole new way of classifying, so by the time younger children are grown up, the five kingdom scheme may be defunct. That said, it's not a bad place to begin with sorting out life forms, so here's lots of info we used in past for that purpose:
This website has classification info. and links to 5 other kids' websites with similar info.:
Also, www.msnucleus.org has both elementary and secondary lesson plans for classification.
Some of the things we worked on memorizing:
5 Kingdoms of Living Things:
6 Activities all Living things Do:
Take in nutrients
Use energy to do work
Get rid of wastes
React to outside changes
Plant Kingdom Classifications:
Bryophyta, non-vascular plants
Tracheophyta, vascular plants
Bryophyta reproduce from spores and include mosses and liverworts.
Tracheophyta include Pteridophyta, non-flowering plants
Spermatophyta, flowering plants
Pteridophyta include ferns, clubmosses, horsetails, etc. Very primitive plants.
Most plants fall into the Spermatophyta classification. These plants reproduce from seeds. These are further divided into
Angiosperms - covered seeds (tomatoes, oranges, peanuts, cherries, etc.)
Gymnosperms - naked seeds (cones, etc.)
Angiosperms may be Monocot - having one seed leaf (corn, etc.)
Dicot - having two seed leaves (beans, peas, etc.)
5 Basic Tree Types:
Ginkgos (nearest living relatives are conifers, maiden-hair tree)
Cycads (relatives of conifers; tropics or sub-tropics; look like short, fat palm trees)
Germination is the process of a new plant sprouting and growing from a seed.
(and there are further subdivisions within this primary scheme)
Genus: Homo ("Human")
Species: sapiens ("wise")
Characteristics of the 5 Kingdoms:
Animalia - animals are multi-cellular and rely on other organisms for food; most are capable of independent locomotion. Embryos form from a blastula.
Plantae - plants are able to produce their own food, through photosynthesis; generally incapable of independent locomotion.
Protoctista - neither plant nor animal. Single cell organisms with a nuclear membrane. Includes protozoans ("first animals") and some algaes ("water plant").
Monera - single celled organisms without a nuclear membrane. Includes bacteria and blue-green algae (now called blue-green bacteria).
Fungi - multi-celled organisms. Absorb food from other organisms. Incapable of independent locomotion. Includes yeasts, molds and mushrooms.
Sample phylla from the Animal Kingdom:
From Phyllum Chordata (animals that have an endoskeleton and a notochord):
Sub-phylum: Vertebrata (having a backbone)
Mammalia - warm-blooded; fur; live birth; nourished with mother's milk; lungs.
Amphibia - cold-blooded; lay eggs; gills changing over to lungs when mature. Includes frogs and
Reptilia - cold-blooded; lay eggs; lungs; scales.
Fish (Pescidae) - cold-blooded; lay eggs; gills; scales.
Birds (Avidae) - warm-blooded; lay eggs; lungs; feathers.
Phyllum: Arthropoda - external skeletons; jointed bodies and limbs. Include insects, spiders (Arachnids), crabs and lobsters (both Crustaceans).
Phyllum: Mollusca - soft, unsegmented bodies generally enclosed in a shell. Includes Octopii and squids (both with internal shell remnants); snails; slugs (no shell); and clams.
Phyllum: Annelida - segmented worms, such as earthworms.
Phyllum: Coelenterata - soft-bodied sea creatures, such as jellyfish, sea anemones and corals.
Phyllum: Echinodermata - radial arms, sometimes. All have stoney, spine-like structures inside or outside. Include starfish, sea urchins, sea cucumbers.
Some Good Books:
The Science of Classification: Finding Order Among Living and Non-living Objects, Martin J. Gutnik
Diversity of Life: The 5 Kingdoms, Lynn Margulis
What's the Difference? A Guide to some Familiar Animal Look-alikes, Elizabeth A. Lace
Tree of Life: The Incredible Biodiversity of Life on Earth, Rochelle Strauss
Plant Families, Carol Lerner
Five Kingdoms: An Illustrated Guide to the Phyla of Life on Earth, Lynn Margulis
The Science of Classification: Finding Order Among Living and Nonliving Objects, Martin J. Gutnik
Bacteria, Howard and Margery Facklam
Bacteria, Lesli J. Favor
Bill Nye the Science Guy’s Great Big Book of Tiny Germs, Kathleen W. Zoehfeld
The Diatoms, Dr. Gerald W. Prescott
Green Magic: Algae Rediscovered, Lucy Kavaler
Scientists are now proposing that some very ancient bacteria, very different from bacteria of today, be set aside in their own kingdom of Archaebacteria. So Kingdom Monera is changing to Archaebacteria and Eubacteria. These are sometimes also called Archaea and Bacteria - the name changes are not solidified yet. These two kingdoms are made up of prokaryotes (organisms with no membrane around the nucleus of the cell). The rest of the kingdoms are composed of eukaryotes (organisms with a nucleur membrane).
Fungi are also called Eumycota. Protists or Protista are also called Protozoa.
Kingdom Chromista are organisms that share some similar properties that used to be lumped in with Protists.
Also, slime molds are felt to be so different from fungi that they should be placed within their own kingdom. They have currently been tossed out of Fungi and into the Protist (catchall) Kingdom, but there is a move to put them into their own kingdom.... At least some of these would have been included in Charles Cavalier Smith's proposed Archezoa Kingdom. It is now defunct but there's a move to create an Amoebozoa Kingdom, instead....