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RZSS Education

Variety of Life

Age Suitability: P4 - P7

Availability: Edinburgh Zoo

Duration of lesson: 1 hour 20 minutes

Maximum Class Size: 33


Discover the diversity of vertebrate animals (mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian and fish) through close observation and handling. 

Lesson Outline:

An introduction to the diversity of animal life and the classification of vertebrates through handling and close observation. Children will have the chance to meet a frog, a mammal (rat or guinea pig), a snake and a bird, as we observe the differences in breathing, body covering and breeding (the three Bs!) between the five vertebrate groups (mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian and fish). The lessons end with a mystery encounter, encouraging children to use their knowledge of the five vertebrate groups to come to a decision about the identity of an unknown animal.

This session does not include a walkabout tour in the Zoo.

Learning Outcomes:

  • To realise there is a huge diversity of life on earth.
  • To understand that we must group living things in order to make sense of them.
  • To identify the five vertebrate groups through observation of some of the more distinguishing features.
Curriculum for Excellence Outcomes
  • SCN1-01a ‘I can distinguish between living and non living things. I can sort living things into groups and explain my decisions.’
  • SCN 2-01a ‘I can identify and classify examples of living things, past and present, to help me appreciate their diversity. I can relate physical and behavioural characteristics to their survival or extinction.’