This study investigated with the help of in-depth interviews and a think-aloud-approach how 10-to12-year-old children (n = 46) in the Canton of Berne, Switzerland, get to know species, how they identify plants and animals, and for how important they consider species knowledge to be. Own observations and sensual experiences coupled with positive emotions were most prominent when children encountered plants and animals for the first time. Family members helped most in getting to know species, and were more needed in case of plants. When describing plants, children focused less on flower or flower color than on other characteristic traits. In case of animals, special attention was paid on the body, i.e., its size, form and color. Mean knowledge of animals and mean number of traits mentioned per class was positively related. Children considered species knowledge important for utilitarian reasons and because they thought it part of a general education.
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