This activity introduces students to microbe basics, such as physical characteristics, reproduction, nutrition, and physiology. Students will also learn the basics of biological classification by grouping “microbes” that they create according to appearance.

Objectivescreating a microbe




  1. Have students brainstorm what they know about microbes; go over their responses as a group, focusing discussion on physical characteristics of microbes.
  2. Assign students the task of creating their own microbe using supplies provides. Students should consider the following (also on Create a Microbe Worksheet):

Does your microbe...

Is it...

Take it to the next level (optional)

One way we classify microbes is by how they look. Have students devise a microbe classification system based on common physical characteristics. Divide students into groups if necessary, but make sure enough microbes are in each group so that there are enough similarities/differences to compare. Students should place microbes with similar characteristics into groups, and then create a table listing each group with corresponding common traits. If you have time, students can sub-divide groups, then name their microbe "species" using binomial nomenclature. Discuss as a class the classification schemes that the students created, and relate to phylogenic classification system that scientists currently use.


You might want to limit the amount of art supplies to limit the “species”/groups of microbes that students create. This will simplify classification. 

Discussion questions

Why is it important to classify organisms?

Could you have classified your microbes differently? If so, how?

In addition to physical traits, how else do scientists classify living organisms?

Lesson Resources

pdfCreate a Microbe Worksheet

National Science Education Standards

K-12 Unifying Concepts and Processes

9-12 C Life Science