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RachelChristine
10-18-2009, 11:29 AM
My 4 year old daughter is getting the fact cards from Wildlife Explorer. You all know what I'm talking about -- once a month she gets a packet with so many fact cards, each one about a different animal (including birds, fish, reptiles, insects, etc.) or behavior or conservation issue or whatever. They are pretty cool, because they are actually 4 pages each, and have a lot of cool info and pictures.

My question is about animal classification (and believe me this is an area I know nothing about). The only thing about these cards that bug me is that the numbered order seems to be totally random. They aren't in alphabetical order, they aren't in world order (i.e. the north american animals aren't grouped), and they don't appear to be in any kind of classification order. The cats aren't together, the primates aren't together, etc. It's really bugging me. I'm not scientific enough to care what kind of order they are in, but I want them some way, not just random!

So I thought I'd like them in some kind of classification order, because I think I'll learn more that way (Liese just likes looking at the pictures at her age!). What is the best way to do that? Each card lists their Order, Family, Genus, & Species. For right now, I've just alphabetized them by those, but I'm sure there is a better way.

How would you guys order something like this? Or am I just being overly anal about something I really don't know a lot about anyway?

Chronos
10-18-2009, 04:21 PM
First of all, if you're not already doing this, you should group on those categories in the order you listed them. So all of a given order should be together, and then each of the families within that order, and so on.

But for the various categories at the same hierarchical level (for instance, two different families within the Mammals), I don't think there's any logical way to order them without more information than they probably give you on the cards. So you'd have to do independent research to find out what all of the sub-orders and super-families and so on are.

RachelChristine
10-18-2009, 04:32 PM
That makes me feel better then. I just went through, for example, the Mammals. I put all their Orders alphabetically, then within that the Family, and so on all the way down. Maybe looking up info on the sub-orders and super-families (see, I don't even know those terms!), might make a fun project some weekend, so that I feel even better organized.

I'm just surprised that the cards aren't in some kind of order. I mean, I understand why they mail them to you randomly, but I would think that there should be some rhyme or reason to why a certain animal is number 1, vs number 2, vs number 173 or whatever.

John Mace
10-18-2009, 05:11 PM
So I thought I'd like them in some kind of classification order, because I think I'll learn more that way (Liese just likes looking at the pictures at her age!). What is the best way to do that? Each card lists their Order, Family, Genus, & Species.

Does it list more than just Order and on down? Because it seems like you're getting stuff at the Class level. Mammals and birds are in their own classes, and when you get to Order, say within Mammalia, you're talking Carnivores, Primates, etc.

RachelChristine
10-18-2009, 07:04 PM
Well I guess the class would be the overall card divisions? (Also, card isn't right either. It's a fold open paper, so it's 2 full pages front and back.) You get a big three ring binder to keep the cards in, and a set of dividers. The dividers are Mammals, Birds, Fish, Reptiles & Amphibians, and Insects. Then there are three more called World Explorer (each card is a different area of the world and talks about the wildlife there; for example "Wildlife of the Sahara" or "Yosemite National Park"), Exploring Behavior (things like "Why Animals Hibernate" or "How Do Some Animals See in the Dark?"), and Conservation Issues ("Saving the World's Parrots" or "Acid Rain: Causes and Effects").

So I get cards/fact sheets in those really broad categories. It's just within those they are in no order that I can figure out. I've just gone back and, within the five animal categories, put them alphabetical by Order, Family, Genus, Species. That at least puts similar things together mostly. The are still some places that seem to jump around, but as I get more and more of the sheets maybe those gaps will be filled in.

I started this as something cute for my daughter, and I've fallen in love! It's weird too, because I'm not much of an animal person normally, but got into playing Zoo Tycoon when it came out, and now I'm interested in learning about them. Too bad my students aren't in a science class this year where they would learn much to help me out! (I teach 9th grade algebra, and they take physical science this year.)

Helena
10-18-2009, 07:08 PM
I have http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/index.html bookmarked. If you click on one of the links and then "members of this phylum/class/order," you'll get a whole big taxonomy tree. They do seem to be alphabetized, within larger groups.

John Mace
10-18-2009, 07:18 PM
Well I guess the class would be the overall card divisions? (Also, card isn't right either. It's a fold open paper, so it's 2 full pages front and back.) You get a big three ring binder to keep the cards in, and a set of dividers. The dividers are Mammals, Birds, Fish, Reptiles & Amphibians, and Insects.
Interesting. Mammals and Birds make up a Class each, but there are many Classes of fish and Reptiles and Amphibians each have their own Class. Instects make up their own Class, too. These aren't bad classifications, per se, but they don't make logical, scientific sense.


So I get cards/fact sheets in those really broad categories. It's just within those they are in no order that I can figure out. I've just gone back and, within the five animal categories, put them alphabetical by Order, Family, Genus, Species. That at least puts similar things together mostly.
Seems sensible.

I started this as something cute for my daughter, and I've fallen in love! It's weird too, because I'm not much of an animal person normally, but got into playing Zoo Tycoon when it came out, and now I'm interested in learning about them. Too bad my students aren't in a science class this year where they would learn much to help me out! (I teach 9th grade algebra, and they take physical science this year.)
A really good book on this subject from an evolutionary point of view is The Ancestor's Tale, by Richard Dawkins. You'll learn a lot about classification and have a handy-dandy reference guide when you're done.

JRDelirious
10-18-2009, 08:17 PM
Looks like what you have in the collection above the "Order" level is closer to a "layman's" classification than a true reflection of modern taxonomical science. Which is adequate at the child's level.

As to there being no apparent sense of which is animal 1 vs. animal 2 vs. animal 173, I say, that's probably just a matter of the editor's preferences. Which arbitrariness may be in a way akin to how it is with life: a bison, a python, a grasshopper and a flamingo do not have any sort of orderly rank of precedence among each other.