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Challenge your kiddos to a create a six question or less dichotomous key to classify the illustrated leaves and seeds: an alder leaf, alder seeds, a strawberry leaf, strawberry seeds, a horse-chestnut leaf, and a horse-chestnut seed.
A dichotomous key is a tool that asks questions in order to identify the items within the natural world. Dichotomous means "split it two" and, therefore, two choices are given at each step. Creating their own dichotomous key can help your students to develop skills of categorizing, organization, and comparing. There are many ways to approach a dichotomous key, but the most important thing is to make sure two clear choices are given, and that these choices are always constant.
Use this four page worksheet to introduce students to the concept of scientific classification. Students will be classifying the illustrated leaves and seeds into nested categories using their own language. This can later be linked to the classification system used by scientists. (Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, and Species).
NOTE: There is a colorful and printer-friendly versions included in the updated PDF file. While there are sample and possible key information provided, the students versions of dichotomous key do not have to match them.
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