Kitchen Classification


A classification homework assignment

After introducing the classification hierarchy of taxonomic levels (kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species) at GCSE or A-level, one way to get students to rehearse the knowledge and use it in a novel context is to set them a homework to build a classification diagram of several species that they see regularly in the world around them.

In this activity students use plants found in their kitchen (herbs, spices, fruit, vegetables, carbohydrate staples) to create a classification diagram. This resource includes an excel spreadsheet of over 200 species of edible plant using the ‘Catalogue of Life’ classification system (see: so students can easily browse through lists ordered by classification or alphabetically by common name, or search through them using the ‘Find’ function. There is also further information for teachers in the Teaching Notes and instructions and an example for students in the Student Notes.

The variety of plant species present in the average kitchen provides a wonderful opportunity for students to relate what they learn about the classification of life in the classroom to what they see around them every day.

This linking to everyday life can have several benefits. Students can gain enthusiasm for science by seeing how it relates to the world around them and they can review knowledge learnt in the classroom when reminded about it by the things they come across in their everyday life. On top of this, providing these links for students can help them take steps towards appreciating that scientific knowledge can bring more joy into our lives through a deeper appreciation of the world around us.

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