This Cryptozoology Dichotomous Key is a great secondary science Halloween activity or end of year wrap up when the AP Biology or state exams finish. We all know how antsy high school students get when Halloween comes around, you can keep them focused and using academic language while still feeling the festivities of autumn.
The students will be entertained with taxonomy over monsters, beasts, mythological creatures and strange diseases. This dichotomous key is a mixture of reality and myth. Students are given 25 organisms they need to identify. I also included two suggestions for extension activities.
I usually use this as a cooperative lesson with my students paired up so they can work the dichotomous key together.
This activity can be used in its power point format to upload to a classroom website and have the students use laptops or iPads to go through the pictures with their dichotomous key and answer sheet in hand. Displaying the pictures of organisms in a power point allows for students to see more details without the loss of clarity that happens so often with photocopied dichotomous keys.
As an instructor you may choose to use the power point for whole class instruction and work through the dichotomous key with all your students participating. This works well with smaller classes, tutoring sessions or as an enrichment activity for the gifted population.
If you do not have a class website or technology for you students you can still use this dichotomous key successfully. The slides can be printed out as task cards. I have placed little centers around the room and had the students move from center to center classifying the organisms. I like this activity because it keeps my hyper students in constant motion. Laminating the cards will give you years of use.
An additional option is to simply print a few slides per page. If you are using color copies you would only need 10-1 sets and have the students work cooperatively. The students do not really need to write on anything except for the answer sheet.
This activity has quite a few different ways it can be implemented into your classroom I hope you find a method that will work best for your class. Please come back to leave feedback for your TpT credit and remember to follow me for free monthly gifts.
Great lesson for after state testing or when the kids get antsy before a holiday break!
Other dichotomous keys available are
Classifying Organisms : Dichotomous Key Power Point
Desert Plants Dichotomous Key Bundle
GREAT FOR IN ANY STATE
Texas Biology TEK 8
(8) Science concepts. The student knows that taxonomy is a branching classification based on the shared characteristics of organisms and can change as new discoveries are made. The student is expected to:
(A) define taxonomy and recognize the importance of a standardized taxonomic system to the scientific community;
(B) categorize organisms using a hierarchical classification system based on similarities and differences shared among groups; and
(C) compare characteristics of taxonomic groups, including archaea, bacteria, protists, fungi, plants, and animals.
NEXT GENERATION SCIENCE STANDARDS
3-LS3-1. Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence that plants and animals have traits inherited from parents and that variation of these traits exists in a group of similar organisms. [Clarification Statement: Patterns are the similarities and differences in traits shared between offspring and their parents, or among siblings. Emphasis is on organisms other than humans.]