- Biology, 6-12
- The Tree of Life from Waseca Biomes is a journey through the way scientists have organized living organisms. Living organisms had first been organized by morphological characteristics. With advanced technology, we are constantly restructuring the classification of lifeforms. The Tree of Life connects all the known Kingdoms in one tree, which provides children with a global understanding of the similarities and differences between living organisms.
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- I would like to share with you the layout of this gorgeous material. The Tree of Life comes with a Guide to Presentation which contains 6 suggested presentations. The presentations are organized in a logical manner, from basic life to complex life. I would like to first explain the difference between Eukaryotes and Prokaryotes, because this is how lifeforms are organized at first. If you are already familiar with this information, please scroll down.
Prokaryotes vs. Eukaryotes
- Why do we need to know Prokaryotes and Eukaryotes? Because the Tree of Life is organized based on cellular structure. You don’t have to be a biology major to appreciate this! Let me make it simple. The Tree of Life starts with the first Presentation, the first branch, and it says PROKARYOTES. What is this? They are “bacteria,” and ancient bacteria called “archaebacteria.” They are not very sophisticated living organisms. They are single-celled, and don’t have the most complex cell structure. Their nucleus has no membrane. There’s much more to say about prokaryotic cells, but let’s keep it simple. See picture of a prokaryotic cell below (spaghetti-like nucleus):
- The rest of the presentations will cover protists, fungi, plants, and animals, which are EUKARYOTES. Eukaryotes have “eukaryotic cells” a clear nucleus membrane. Actually, all the organelles (organ-like specialized components) within the cells have membranes. We have here more complex, uni- or multicellular organisms, Protists being the least complex, and Animals being the most complex living organisms.
Presentation 1 – Overview
- The overview presentation invites children to experience classification by sorting animals or plants using the leaves. Children are left with living organisms that are neither plants nor animals, so we have now an opportunity to explain there are other living organisms. Children learn about the characteristics of a Prokaryote vs. a Protist (a Eukaryote).
Presentation 2 – Prokaryotes
- The Prokaryotes “branch” is the trunk of the tree. It represents the beginning of life, the starting living organisms that date from 3.5 billions of years ago. Children understand that the Prokaryotes are simple living organisms from which other forms of life have evolved. The adult or the children can read the fact file cards, and let the children place the leaves on the tree.
Presentation 3 – Protists (Eukaryotes)
- The Protists are the simplest EUKARYOTES. They are everything that doesn’t fit the characteristics to be an animal, a plant, or a fungus.
- You can review PROKARYOTES and place the trunk of the tree. Then, add the Protists branch, and read the 3 fact file cards that represent: algae, protozoa, and slime molds.
- Invite the children to place the corresponding leaves on the tree. There are a few extensions suggested. Our favorite is the slime mold maze, we are definitely trying this!
Presentation 4 – Fungi (Eukaryotes)
- The Fungi branch will present the following 3 groups: zygomycotes (bread mold), ascomycotes (lichen), and basidiomycetes (mushrooms).
- Proceed the same way: revise and place Prokaryotes and Protists, place Fungi, read the cards, have the children place the leaves, and use the extensions work (growing mold, collecting lichen, searching for mushrooms).
Presentation 5 – Plants (Eukaryotes)
- The Plant Kingdom is organized mainly based on plants water absorption and reproduction style. The Bryophytes will be introduced first as plants that absorb water from their surface. Then, you will introduce the Tracheophytes that are vascular plants; they transport water through a vascular system (mainly a stem, phloem, xylem).
- You can collect samples to show to children plants that absorb water from their surface, and the ones that have spores or seeds.
Presentation 6 – Animals (Eukaryotes)
- The last Eukaryotes are animals. The Animal Kingdom is the most complex of all. Therefore, it comes with the most fact file cards. This presentation will take several days to present. The Guide to Presentation offers suggestions on how to break down this presentation.
- The Animal branch begins with invertebrates (poriferans, cnidarians…), and ends with the vertebrates.
- By now, children should be able to reconstruct the Tree of Life independently.
- Children really enjoy this stunning Tree of Life. There are plenty of opportunities to expand research from the Fact File cards. Waseca Biomes provides templates for the children to expand their learning by research different lifeforms within a kingdom or a subgroup.
- Ready for a lesson? Please follow to receive notifications for my next reviews. You may also like Coral Reef from Waseca Biomes.