Lesson Plan

Characteristics of Multicellular Organisms


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Big Ideas




In this lesson, students use microscopes to examine organisms in a sample of pond water. They also classify groups of vertebrates and invertebrates. Students will:

  • identify examples of multicellular organisms.
  • describe a multicellular organism as a system that is composed of parts that work together for survival.
  • use observations to infer how multicellular organisms meet their needs for survival.

Essential Questions

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  • Characteristic: Feature or trait indicating the typical or distinguishing attributes and qualities of a person, group, action, or thing.
  • Multicellular Organism: Organism consisting of more than one cell.
  • Organism: Any living thing.
  • Specialization: The ability of cells in multicellular organisms to perform specific functions.
  • Unicellular Organism: Organism consisting of only one cell.


90 minutes/2 class periods

Prerequisite Skills


  • Pond Water Activity, Option A:

o   pond water

o   plastic cups

o   microscopes

o   microscope slides

o   eyedroppers

o   copies of Guide to Pond Water Organisms (S-6-3-2_Guide to Pond Water Organisms.docx)

o   copies of Pond Water Lab Activity worksheet (S-6-3-2_Pond Water Lab Activity and KEY.docx)

  • Pond Water Activity, Option B:

o   computers with Internet access for a Virtual Pond Dip


o   copies of Virtual Pond Water Lab Activity worksheet (S-6-3-2_Virtual Pond Water Lab Activity and KEY.docx)

Related Unit and Lesson Plans

Related Materials & Resources

The possible inclusion of commercial websites below is not an implied endorsement of their products, which are not free, and are not required for this lesson plan.

  • How to Collect Microscopic Pond Life


  • Pond Water Critters That You Can See with a Microscope: Protozoans and Small Animals


  • Pond Life Identification Kit


  • A Virtual Pond Dip


  • The Five Kingdoms of Life: The Amazing Diversity of Living Systems


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