Cladogram Activity

Rated 4.89 out of 5, based on 337 reviews
337 Ratings
Amy Brown Science
Grade Levels
8th - 12th, Homeschool
Formats Included
  • Zip
  • Google Apps™
9 pages
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Amy Brown Science
Includes Google Apps™
The Teacher-Author indicated this resource includes assets from Google Workspace (e.g. docs, slides, etc.).

What educators are saying

Great no=prep resource. I completed it with the students, but it easily could have been done independently with the thorough directions.
I really like how this was simple and easy for students to understand. Great way to introduce the topic.
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This printable or digital problem solving activity teaches students how to build a cladogram and reinforces the important concepts of cladistics to your biology or life science students in grades 8-12. I use this activity when teaching my unit on classification and taxonomy, but it would also be appropriate to use during your lessons on evolution and natural selection. Both printable and digital versions of this resource are included. The student handouts can be printed or used in the paperless digital format in your Google Drive, Google Classroom, Microsoft OneDrive, or similar. This resource is perfect for traditional classroom settings, 1:1 schools, or distance learning.

What is included in this resource?

  • Printable and Editable Handouts for Students
  • Digital paperless version (not editable) for use in Google Drive, Google Classroom, and/or Microsoft OneDrive
  • Full-color, high-quality photos of animals used to develop the cladogram
  • Teacher Guide and Answer Key

What is cladistics? Cladistics is one of the newest trends in the modern classification of organisms. It shows the relationship between different organisms based on the presence or absence of characteristics called derived characters. In this activity, students will look at pictures of 7 different animals to determine if they possess certain derived characters. This data will then be used to build a cladogram.

This product comes with a student-friendly explanation of cladistics and definitions of key terms related to cladistics. Picture file of 7 different organisms is included. The 4 page student worksheet leads them through the process of making observations, completing a data table, and using this data to complete the cladogram. There are 19 follow up questions, and complete answer key for the teacher.

Not only does this activity teach cladistics, but it reinforces the skills of observation, problem solving, analysis, and critical thinking.

This activity was written for my high school Biology I class, but is also appropriate for middle school students. You will receive both a pdf file and a Word document so that you can make changes to it to suit your needs. Please note: Student handouts are editable, but the images used in this resource are not editable.

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Total Pages
9 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
1 hour
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 6–8 texts and topics.
Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table).
Distinguish among facts, reasoned judgment based on research findings, and speculation in a text.
Communicate scientific information that common ancestry and biological evolution are supported by multiple lines of empirical evidence. Emphasis is on a conceptual understanding of the role each line of evidence has relating to common ancestry and biological evolution. Examples of evidence could include similarities in DNA sequences, anatomical structures, and order of appearance of structures in embryological development.
Apply scientific ideas to construct an explanation for the anatomical similarities and differences among modern organisms and between modern and fossil organisms to infer evolutionary relationships. Emphasis is on explanations of the evolutionary relationships among organisms in terms of similarity or differences of the gross appearance of anatomical structures.


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