Esoma Online Revision Resources

Classification I - Biology Form 1

 Classification of Organisms

Classification refers to placing of organisms into their respective groups which are known as taxa (one is a taxon), in relation to features or characteristics of the specific organism.

There are millions of living organisms on earth. Traditionally man classified organisms depending on their characteristics, habitat as well as the use to which the organisms could be put. Scientists classify them basing on their physical and physiological characteristics.

Classification also allows for easy identification, easy naming and study of the organisms. It is also easy to establish ancestral relationships between organisms using a classification system.

Organisms are grouped into five major kingdoms namely;
1. Monera

2. Protoctista

3. Fungi

4. Plantae

5. Animalia.

The seven taxonomic units of a Kingdom, in descending order are:

1. Kingdom

2. Phylum/division

3. Class

4. Order

5. Family

6. Genus

7. Species

Binomial nomenclature is a system of naming organisms by

  assigning them a generic and specific name e.g., the lion belongs to the genus Panthera and species leo. The scientific name of the lion, therefore is "Panthera leo".





Background Information

In Primary Science study, you grouped living organisms as shown below:


By the end of the lesson you should be able to state the necessity and significance of classifying organisms.

Necessity and Significance of Classification

Organisms are classified according to similarities and differences. This is based on external and sometimes internal features of the organisms. The illustrations below indicate organisms with varying characteristics that can be used in classification.


Activity 1

Place the following animals into their respective groups by dragging and dropping method.

- Man - Lizard - Crab - Elephant

- Cockroach - Octopus - Warthog - roundworm

Drag and drop the following plants into the group of monocotyledons or dicotyledons.

Flow chart of classification of plants into monocots and dicots.

  Onion bulb with leaves

  Sisal plant

  Rose flower

  Banana plant

  Pawpaw plant

  Sugarcane plant

Correct answers

Monocots- sisal, onion, sugarcane

Dicots- Rose flower, banana and pawpaw

The placing of organisms into various groups based on their structural and physiological differences and similarities is called classification.

Necessity for Classifying Organisms

You have already learnt that Classification is important for:

1.) Easy identification of organisms.

2) For scientific naming, so as to have universally accepted names.

3) For establishment of relationships between organisms and their ancestry.

4) For easy study of organisms.

5) To facilitate orderly arrangement of biological information to avoid confusion.


List down as many living organisms as possible and place them in their respective kingdom
  • With guidance from your teacher, assign scientific names to  common plants and animals found within your school compound.


    In primary science you placed living things into two groups: plants and animals. Plants make their own food and animals feed on ready made food.

    You placed mushrooms in the group of non-green plants since they do not make their own food, but look like plants.

    Mushrooms, however, are not plants. Some organisms have been found to possess both plant and animal characteristics. For this reason, taxonomists have now placed organisms into five groups called kingdoms.

    NB The kingdoms will be outlined in the course of the lesson.



    By the end of the lesson you should be able to;

    1. Name the five kingdoms, giving an example in each case
    2. Name the seven major taxonomic units of a Kingdom
    3. Place one plant and animal in the taxonomic units in descending order

    Use the drag and drop method to place the taxonomic names listed below into their appropriate taxonomic position.











    Animalia, Monocotyledonae, Chordata, spermatophyte, primate, Mammalia, Graminales, Zea, Homo, Hominidae, sapiens,  Plantae.

                                 Human                                                      Maize
    Kingdom              Animalia                                                      Plantae
    Phylum/division     Chordata                                                     Spermatophyte
    Class                    Mammalia                                                    Monocotyledonae
    Order                    Primate                                                       Graminae
    Genus                    Homo                                                         Zea
    Species                  sapiens                                                           mays

    Units of Classification

    In primary science you placed living things into two groups; plants and animals. Plants make their own food and animals feed on ready made food.

    You placed mushrooms in the group of non-green plants since they do not make their own food. Such organisms are not really plants.

    Some organisms have been found to possess both plant and animal characteristics. It therefore became necessary for taxonomists to place organisms into five groups called kingdoms.

    The kingdoms will be outlined in the course of the lesson.

    Currently, the Five-kingdom system of classification is used.
    In this classification system, organisms are placed in the following groups:

    1. Kingdom Monera- This group consists of bacteria such as Coccus, Bacillus and Vibrio. Examples are shown in the figure.

    2. Kingdom Protoctista:-  This group contains single celled organisms including; -

     Amoeba, Paramecium, Trypanosoma.

    See examples (Liver fluke and Trypanosome) in the figure.

    3. Kingdom Fungi ;- This kingdom includes Mushroom, Bread mould, Yeast, Rhizopus. The mushroom in the figure are growing on a dead tree trunk.

    4. Kingdom Plantae This contains plants such as Maize, Bean and Fern

    5. Kingdom Animalia:- Contains animals for example Insect, Fish, Lizard, Bird, Human being.


    Planet earth is one huge body which supports life unlike other planets. It can be used as an analogy in classification

    This planet is made up of five continents. The continents differ from each other in many ways but have some similarities such as climatic conditions and geographical features.

    This can be likened to classification in which organisms are placed into five kingdoms. The organisms in a kingdom have some similarities and a wide range of differences.

    Analogy of classification based on the map of Africa

    Each continent is made up of regions. The African continent is made up of several regions such as the East African region. This is likened to the classification in which organisms in a kingdom are placed into groups called Phyla/ Divisions. Members of a phylum/division have more in common than members of a kingdom.

    Each region is made up of several countries for example Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania. Rwanda and Burundi are countries which make up the East African region.

    Similarly, several classes are found in a Phylum/ Division. Members of a class have more in common than members of the same phylum/division.

    Provinces Vs Orders

    Kenya is divided into provinces just like several orders make up one class. A province has a lot in common just as members of the same order. In Coast Province, for example, the most common group of people are the Mijikenda, who use Kiswahili as their major language.

    Members of an order have many similarities.

    District Vs Families

    A province is further divided into districts, just like Order is made up of several Families.

    Members of the same family have more similarities than those of the same order.

    Division Vs Genus

    A district is further divided into divisions. This is likened to the division of the families into genera. Members of a genus have a lot more in common than members of a family. In a Division the people are closely related, under one ancestry and have one area chief.

    They have similar cultural habits.

    Location Vs Species

    A division is further divided into locations. This is likened to the division of a genus into several species.Members of the same species are so closely related that they can interbreed to give rise to fertile (viable) offspring.

    Classification of Bean and Domestic Dog

    An individual organism can be placed in different taxonomic units.


    Bean Plant

    KINGDOM: Plantae

    DIVISION/PHYLUM: Spermatophyta

    CLASS: Angiospermae

    ORDER: Rosales

    FAMILY: Leguminosae

    GENUS: Phaseolus

    SPECIES: vulgaris

    2. Domestic Dog

    KINGDOM: Animalia


    CLASS: Mammalia

    ORDER: Carnivore

    FAMILY: Canidae

    GENUS: Canis

    SPECIES: familiaris


    You have already learnt how to classify an organism in various taxonomic units. In this lesson, you will learn how organisms are given scientific names.

    Binomial Nomenclature

    This refers to the giving of organisms two names: Genus name and specific name. The first name refers to the genus to which the organism belongs. The first and second names together refer to the species to which the organism belongs.

    For example, the scientific name of maize is Zea mays. Zea is the Genus to which maize belongs. Zea mays is the species.


    By the end of this lesson, you should be able to

    Use Binomial nomenclature  to scientifically name a plant and an animal.

  • Name the five kingdoms which organisms are classified.

     List the taxonomic units in classifying a plant in ascending order.

    The scientific name of a housefly is Musa domestica. What does Musa stand for?

    (a) Which two of the following organisms are closely related?

    Homo sapiens
    Mangifera indica
    Homo erectus
    Canis familiaris

    (b) Give a reason for your answer in (a) above


    (a) Homo sapiens and  Homo erectus

    (b) They belong to the same genus.

    Binomial nomenclature refers to the system of assigning scientific names to organisms. The scientific name is derived from combining the genus name and the specific name.

    This system of giving an organism a scientific name was started by Carolus Linnaeus in the 18th century.
    The scientific name is given in the Latin language or made to sound Latin. This language which was widely by scientists is accepted as it does not change.

    The generic name starts with a capital letter while the specific
    name is all written in small letters.

    Example 1: The common bean plant belongs to the genus Phaseolus and species vulgaris. The scientific name of the common bean plant is therefore Phaseolus vulgaris. The domestic dog belongs to genus Canis and species familiaris. Its scientific name is thus Canis familiaris.

    When hand-written, the two parts of the name are underlined separately as shown:

    1. Phaseolus vulgaris

    2. Canis familiaris

    Example 2: The following is the scientific name of the human being:

    Order this CD Today to Experience the Full Multimedia State of the Art Technology!

    For Best results INSTALL Adobe Flash Player Version 16 to play the interactive content in your computer. Test the Sample e-Content link below to find out if you have Adobe Flash in your computer.

    Sample Coursework e-Content CD

    Other Goodies for KCSE ONLINE Members!

    Coursework e-Content CD covers all the topics for a particular class per year and costs 1200/- ( Per Subject per Class ).

    Purchase Online and have the CD sent to your nearest Parcel Service. Pay the amount to Patrick 0721806317 by M-PESA then provide your address for delivery of the Parcel. Alternatively, you can use BUY GOODS TILL NUMBER 827208 Ask for clarification if you get stuck.

    Install ADOBE Flash Player for Best Results

    For Best results INSTALL Adobe Flash Player Version 16 to play the interactive content in your computer. Test the link below to find out if you have Adobe Flash in your computer.


    Subject Menu