April 16, 2014

Dichotomous Keys and Jelly Beans

Being that I come from a language arts background, most of the lesson ideas I share are geared toward reading, writing, and word work. What can I say? It's my comfort zone!

But today I have to share with you an awesome lesson we did in science this week because our students LOVED it!

We started studying classification this week, and with this came instruction on using Dichotomous Keys. We had thorough discussions on the principles of taxonomy and learned how all living things are given scientific names in addition to the common names we normally hear. 

Then, the fun began!

We started the lesson with some Harry Potter, which means I was won over from the very beginning. Here's the quote that was shared:

“He [Harry] finally tore his eyes away from the druidess Cliodna, who was scratching her nose, to open a bag of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans. 

"You want to be careful with those," Ron warned Harry. "When they say every flavor, they mean every flavor—you know, you get all the ordinary ones like chocolate and peppermint and marmalade, but then you can get spinach and liver and tripe. George reckons he had a booger-flavored one once."

Ron picked up a green bean, looked at it carefully, and bit into a corner. "Bleargh - See? Sprouts."

They had a good time eating the Ever Flavor Beans. Harry got toast, coconut, baked bean, strawbery, curry, grass, coffee, sardine, and was even brave enough to nibble the end off a funny gray one Ron wouldn't touch, which turned out to be pepper."

At this point, student pairs were given a dixie cup half full of Jelly Belly candies and a corresponding Dichotomous Key. Students took turns selecting a bean and using the Key to determine its flavor. You can find a bunch of these online, but I found this one to be most helpful since it includes a key for the name brand as well as the Sam's Club brand for those who are thrifty like me! :)

Then, students had to eat the bean to assess their skills, and record whether or not it was the flavor they expected. Of course, the classroom teacher told them the Harry Potter Jelly Beans were included in the bunch, which made the activity even more exciting for the students who were afraid to accidentally eat a vomit or ear wax bean. Watching them nervously bite into each bean was pure entertainment!

She didn't actually include the Harry Potter beans because she didn't think to oder them in time, but if you're interested in doing so, this article includes a Key for those beans as well. Even if you don't go all out and include these beans, trust me, your students will throughly enjoy this activity!


  1. How fun! I love this. I want to do this with my kids!!!! xo
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

  2. How cute! We had a jelly bean tasting game at our classroom party once!
    Short and Sassy Teacher