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Monday, March 5, 2012

What is a Dichotomous Key?

Today, we started working on classifying plants and animals.  I found a great activity on the Science Spot.  It's called "Silly Science"and the kiddos get a bag full of junk to classify.  They have to find out the "silly scientific" name of each object.  For example, a white marble is really called a "Whatnot."  Who would have guessed that?   Ha! 

 Items Needed:
sharpened pencil, unsharpened pencil, 1 dice, large paper clip,
small paper clip, white chalk, colored marble, white (I used clear) marble,
piece of wood (over 10 cm long), eraser

 This was a great way to introduce classification.  My kids said the dichotomous key was sort of like the Choose Your Own Adventure books we have gotten from DonorsChoose!  I thought that was a great connection!  This activity was also a great team builder, as they had to work together and figure out in their teams if an eraser is or is not a writing instrument.  We had a lot of really good conversations about little difference in things.

This was also a great review about measurement and how to read centimeters on a ruler with both inches and centimeters.  We also discussed why our rulers are marked as millimeters and how many millimeters it takes to make 1 centimeter. 

You can find the work sheet, instructions, and more dichotomous key ideas on Science Spot

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