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Grouping rocky shore animals

Levels: 1-2
NoS achievement aims: Investigating in science icon. Investigating in science , Communicating in science icon. Communicating in science
Contextual strands: Living world icon. Living world
Topic: Rocky Shore


Animals may be grouped by body structure.

Asking children to group things encourages them to observe carefully and think about how things are the same or different. This provides opportunities to extend their experiences of the natural world, build their language and develop understandings of how the natural world can be represented.

What you need

Pictures (or actual samples) of a variety of animals commonly found at the rocky shore. For guidelines on collecting samples see page 9, Life between the Tides: Sandy Shores, Mudflats, and Rocky Shores, Building Science Concepts, Book 21 .


  • How could we group animals?
  • What sorts of things can we look at to see if they are the same or different? (For example, size, shape, number of legs, body plan, body covering, behaviour.)
  • Would colour be a useful thing to look at to help group animals? Why or why not?
  • Are there any animals that look different when they are different ages?


  1. Invite the students to group the animals and give reasons for their grouping choices.
  2. Ask the students:
    • What kinds of groups have you got?
    • Do you have names for your groups?


  • Which of the animals seem to be alike?
  • How did you make your decision?
  • Which parts of the animal are you comparing?
  • Was it easy to see what you wanted to see? (For example, legs, mouth parts, eyes.)
  • Do you have any animals that you didn’t put in a group? Why couldn’t you group them?

Activity resources

Ministry of Education (2002). Life Between the Tides: Sandy Shores, Mudflats, and Rocky Shores. Building Science Concepts, Book 21 . Wellington: Learning Media.