General Biology Series 3 of 4: The Kingdoms of Life

General Biology Series 3 of 4: The Kingdoms of Life


About this course

This is the third class in a series of four that will cover a full year of upper middle school (Level 1) or high school (Level 2) biology and is only offered in January each year. While it is not required, it is highly recommended that you take these classes in order, as later series refer back to information we’ve learned in earlier series. The other courses are as follows:
General Biology: Series 1 of 4- Chemistry and Ecology
General Biology: Series 2 of 4- Cells, Genetics, and Evolution
General Biology: Series 4 of 4- Human Anatomy


Recommended Ages: 12-17

Levels: Class is offered in 2 levels

Start Date: This course is not currently open for enrollment. Class consists of 14 lesson plans.  Students have two weeks after the last class is posted to complete the course. No live classes- do the lesson plans on YOUR schedule.

Price: $280

Space Available: This course is not currently open for enrollment. Please join our mailing list to be notified when it is open again.

My degree is in Marine Biology (from Texas A&M University at Galveston), and I am truly a biologist at heart! I have a passion for this branch of science, and truly love sharing that passion with my students. And it’s my goal to make sure students come away with a deep understanding of the science of life. Because biology is not just a science, it is what we are! It is in us and around us and we are being it and interacting with it every second of our lives. I may be biased, but I truly feel that it is the most important branch of science students will ever learn. And I treat teaching it as a huge responsibility. This will be an academic, in-depth approach to biology. At the end of the course, students will have a firm understanding and working knowledge of all aspects of general biology. This foundation will serve them very well if they progress to an AP biology course in high school or for college biology. That said, it’s going to be engaging and a lot of fun as well!

Some of the things we’ll be covering will include:

1. Classification of Life: We’ll learn why and how scientists classify life into 3 domains and 6 kingdoms (and smaller categories) with taxonomy and learn how to create and read dichotomous keys and cladograms.

2. Kingdom Bacteria and Archaebacteria: What are the two main domains of bacteria and how do they differ? How do bacteria obtain energy, grow, and reproduce? Why is bacteria essential to all other lifeforms on earth? How do bacteria differ from viruses, and what are some of the diseases caused by both?

3. Kingdom Protista: What makes protists the most argued about organisms in the taxonomic world? What are examples of animal like protists? Plant like protists? Fungus like protists? How do all of these different types obtain energy, grow, and reproduce? Why are protists important if you like ice cream? 🙂

4. Kindom Fungi: What are the unique characteristics of fungi? How do they obtain energy, grow, and reproduce? What are the different classifications of fungi? What are the benefits and hazards of fungi to other organisms? In other words, we’ll learn why you always wear flip flops in public showers!

5. Kingdom Plantae: We’ll spend a lot of time on this kingdom! What are the characteristics of plant cells that make them unique? What are the major groups of plants and how did they evolve (bryophytes, ferns, gymnosperms, angiosperms)? What was the evolutionary progression of each of these groups?What are the main structures of a plant and what is the function of each? What special tissues do vascular plants have an how do those tissues work together? How do the life cycles of various groups of plants work, and how do they differ from each other? What are the different types of hormones that control plant growth, and how do they work? How do plants respond to external stimuli? What are some of the adaptations plants have to thrive in their ecosystems?

6. Kingdom Animalia: We’ll go through each of the major phlya of animals, from sponges to mammals! For each phyla, we’ll learn what characteristics cause animals to be categorized into that group, what the anatomy of those animals are, how they obtain energy, grow, and reproduce. We’ll discuss how animals respond to stimuli, communicate, and behave. We’ll be dissecting many different species as well (dissections are always optional). As we work our way up to humans, we’ll discover how evolution played a role in the success of various animal species.

LESSON PLANS: This is a 14 week class. Students have 2 weeks after the last class is posted to complete all work. Weekly lesson plans are posted on Tuesdays by 5pm Pacific Time. There is no “live” component to this class, which allows students to work at their own pace. This is a great option for busy students who need to work on their own schedule, and students who live all over the world and can’t easily coordinate time zones.

Lesson plans are a combination of power point, graphics, video, and audio. Each slide is fully narrated for students who prefer to hear material read to them. There is no textbook for this course.
OPTIONAL: I provide all of the curriculum needed for this course in the lesson plans. However, if you wish to use a textbook in junction with the course, pretty much any middle school/high school biology textbook will be covering the topics I am covering. I have taught live biology classes in the past, and used the following textbooks with great success. I never recommend getting the latest edition of any textbook. Save money by getting an older edition!
Level 1 Students: Glencoe Science: Biology- The Dynamics of Life
Level 2 Students: Prentice Hall: Biology- by Miller and Levine

DISCUSSION:We offer an “open talk” forum where students can have fun getting to know their classmates!

ASSIGNMENTS: This is a hands on class!! Each week, students get to choose from a list of exciting and fun hands on projects to let them really dig deep into topics in the lesson plan that interest them the most! The goal is to allow students to explore the topic while allowing their creativity to flow. We encourage out of the box thinking! Generally projects can be submitted in any format of the student’s choosing…written, presentation, poster, stop motion animation, minecraft, song, skit…we’ve seen it all!! Check out our facebook page for examples of student projects. All students receive instructor feedback on submitted work.

QUIZZES: Online quizzes are available each week as a tool for students to see how well they understand the material. Format is generally multiple choice, matching, true/false, and fill in the blank.

GRADES: All quizzes, labs, and online assessments automatically receive a grade in the system. You have the option of having your student’s individual projects graded or not (all assignments receive instructor feedback). Report cards are issued at the end of the course- one for ungraded students and one for graded students. These mean nothing other than for your own records or reporting purposes. We do not maintain copies.

TIME: In general, expect 2.5-4.5 hours to work through the lesson plan each week, and an additional 2-5 hours working on assignments (it really depends what assignment your child chooses to do and how they manage their time).

All labs are OPTIONAL (but highly recommended!), and I  provide a video or explanation for each lab for students who are unable to do the lab on their own. There will be multiple dissections for this class. All will be videoed, and students will be given ordering information if they wish to have their own specimens.

1) We’ll be growing bacterial cultures this week. For the best results, I recommend using sterile petri dishes (you’ll need at least 4) and sterile nutrient agar. You can purchase these from, (Get a $5 credit at Homeschoolscience tools by using this link: ) or lots of other sources. It doesn’t matter what size petri dish you use. Innoculating loops are good to have as well, but you can use sterile cotton swabs as well. The key here is STERILE for the best results!!

The “I’m not spending money on all of that” version (the one I usually used in live classes!) is to have unflavored gelatin (Knox is the brand I’ve used) and beef bouillon cubes to make your “agar”. You can then pour them in to foil cupcake papers and store them in sealed ziplock bags. Instructions will be given in the lesson.

2) Hand sanitizer or alcohol to sterilize your working area.



This lab requires a microscope. You can order protist culture kits from many sources. has this kit or this one. (Get a $5 credit at Homeschoolscience tools by using this link: )
Here is on from Ward’s Scientific. and one from Carolina Biological.



1.  Microscope, slides, clear tape.
2.  Bread or cheese mold (start growing it now!!).
3. Whole mushroom from the grocery store. Get a few, just in case you mess one up (or get hungry!). If you can get a few different species, that would be great!

2 Onions
2 Glasses


Clear nail polish
Clear tape
Samples of live leaves from various kinds of plants (2 or 3 types are fine- more is always more fun!)

1 Clear plastic bag (kind of a large one, like 1 gallon zip loc)
Twist ties or pieces of wire (you’re going to be attaching a bag to a tree and making it as airtight as possible)


Live flower(s)
Root hormone- You can buy it here. We will be experimenting on cuttings of plants. You’ll need at least one mature plant from this list or any other fast growing plant that does well from cuttings.
Green bean seeds- You should be able to get them from your local garden center or from here.
Potting soil and containers

We have a LOT of dissections coming up! I’m trying to give you a good overview for the next several weeks. I recommend picking one supplier and getting everything at once if you can to save on shipping. I’ll be using Nebraska Scientific as my supplier.

Lab 1: Live Hydra Samples: You can get them at: Amazon, Homeschool Science Tools (Get a $5 credit at Homeschoolscience tools by using this link: ) , Carolina Biological, Wards Scientific, Nebraska Scientific (they have just hydra or the hydra/daphnia combo). If you want to observe the feeding mechanism (recommended) or keep them as pets for a little while, get live Daphnia as well!

Lab 1:
Live Planaria: We will be doing external anatomy and cutting them to show forced asexual reproduction through fragmentation. To keep them alive, here are the care instructions.
Nebraska Scientific, Homeschool Science Tools, Carolina Biological, Wards Scientific

Razor Blade
Bottled Spring Water
One long dish
Boiled egg Yolk
3 small containers

Lab 2:
Live Earthworm- You can do a search and buy them online, but it’s easiest to get these from a bait shop or even from your own garden (where you’ll return them to when we’re finished!)

Lab 3:
Snail Dissection
Preserved specimen from: Nebraska Scientific,  Wards
Small pair of needle nose pliers, Gloves, Goggles

Comparison of Insect and Crustacean Anatomy
Grasshopper: Preserved specimen from Nebraska Scientific, Homeschool Science Tools
Crawfish: Preserved specimen from Nebraska Scientific, Homeschool Science Tools,  or your local grocery store seafood department

Gloves, goggles, sharp narrow point scissors

Live Daphnia from Week 23

Fish Dissection- Get a specimen from Nebraska Scientific or your local fish market! I’ll be using a perch, but pretty much any fish will do.
Gloves, Goggles, Sharp scissors or scalpel

Frog Dissection- Try to get a double injected specimen if you can, if not, that’s ok. From Nebraska Scientific, Homeschool Science Tools
Gloves, Googles, Sharp scissors or scalpel

None (for now!!)

Fetal Pig Dissection
Specimen from: Nebraska Scientific, Homeschool Science Tools
Gloves, Goggles, Sharp scissors or scapel, Yarn or string



Our course begins with the first step for generating great user experiences: understanding what people do, think, say, and feel. In this module, you’ll learn how to keep an open mind while learning.

Total numbers of students in course