About This Lesson Plan

SUBJECT
Animals

GRADE
4-6

DURATION
1 Class Period

COLLECTION
Hands-On Lessons

Animal Adaptations

animal
Explore the planet's biodiversity by inviting students to analyze animals' unique features and adaptations and then create their own unique creatures.

OBJECTIVE
Students will:

  • Analyze the ways animals adapt to their habitats in order to more effectively catch food, stay safe from predators, and care for their young.
  • Incorporate what they have learned about the animal adaptations in order to create a unique animal that is well suited to the habitat selected by the class.

Common Core Standards
W.4.7. Conduct short research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.

W.5.7. Conduct short research projects that use several sources to build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.

W.6.7. Conduct short research projects to answer a question, drawing on several sources and refocusing the inquiry when appropriate.

SL.4.1. Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 4 topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

L.4.3. Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.

L.5.3. Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.

L.6.3. Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.

MATERIALS
Elmer's® X-TREME School Glue Sticks®, recycled materials like cardboard boxes, paper tubes, bottles, lids, yogurt containers, and craft items like construction paper, pipe cleaners, felt, craft sticks, wiggly eyes, feathers, sequins, markers, scissors, and "Animal Case Study Organizer" student page.

SET UP AND PREPARE

Content Overview: Animals are well suited to survive in their habitats.

  • The environment in which an animal lives is called its habitat.
  • In order to survive and thrive in their habitats, animals have developed specific traits that help them cope with the environmental conditions, keep them safe from predators, help them get food, and raise their young.
  • These animal adaptations have evolved over millions of years and are a response to what traits are advantageous to the survival of the species.

Preparation
Distribute Animal Case Study Organizer printable.

Vocabulary
Adaptation, prey, predator, diet, camouflage, habitat, migration

DIRECTIONS

Introduction (5 minutes)
Explain how adaptation is a way that animals become more and more efficient at living in their habitats, meeting their basic daily needs, and staying safe from predators. Ask students if they have ever noticed how certain features of an animal make it well suited to live in a specific environment. Perhaps they have noticed how a bat's echolocation helps it navigate at night or how a poison dart frog warns potential predators with bright colors? In this activity, the class will focus on animals that live in a certain habitat (the class or teacher may select a habitat such as the desert, ocean, rainforest, polar region, etc.) and analyze the adaptations of animals that live there.
animal

Research and Inspiration (30 minutes)
Conduct your analysis of the adaptations of several animals of your choice and how these adaptations help each animal meet its basic needs and survive in its habitat either as a class or in small groups. For small groups, provide students with copies of the printable, Animal Case Study Organizer, and books about animals in your focus climate or access to the Internet. After students perform independent research, invite a representative of each group to share the highlights of their findings.

Creature Creation (35 minutes)
Drawing inspiration from the adaptations of animals the class has studied, invite students to create their own creature for the habitat selected earlier in the lesson. How will this creature survive the environmental stresses of its habitat? How will this creature get food? How will it stay safe from predators? When this creature raises its young, how will it care for them? Using Elmer's X-TREME School Glue Sticks, recycled materials like cardboard boxes, paper tubes, bottles, lids, yogurt containers, and craft items like construction paper, pipe cleaners, felt, craft sticks, wiggly eyes, feathers, sequins, markers, and scissors, have students get to work creating their own creature that incorporates features they think would help this creature survive and thrive.
animal

(Elmer's 1st Day® Connection: Take a picture of each student and his or her newly created animal, then email or provide these to parents to include on the Elmer's 1st Day website.)

Story Writing (35 minutes)
Ask each student to imagine a day in the life of his or her unique creature. What does it eat for lunch? Is it an animal that prefers to be alone or does it live in a group with others of its kind? How much does it sleep in a day? How does it use its unique features throughout the day? After a few minutes of brainstorming, have students put pencil to paper to compose a short story about a day in the life of their creatures. Encourage students to incorporate as many rich details as possible!

Wrap-up (20 minutes)
In a group, allow students to show off their new creature and say a few words about their unique features and how they help them survive in their habitats. If time allows, invite students to share the story they wrote about their creature.

LESSON EXTENSION

Whiteboard Extension Activities

  • Animal Lab: On the whiteboard, review the classification of animals by labeling six columns on the board (mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, insects, and birds) and invite students to take turns adding the name of an animal to its appropriate column. In which category would their new creature fit?
  • Fictional Food Chain: If the fictional animals created by the students lived in a real ecosystem, where would they fit into the food chain? Review the concept of a food chain where one species is linked to other species as either that animal's predator or prey and then map out the established food chain of the habitat previously selected by the class (or teacher). Next, have students add their animal to this food chain after considering what it eats and what larger animals might want to eat it.

Extension Activities  

  • Shoebox Habitat: Invite students to create shoebox habitats for their creatures that include a place for the creature to sleep and food for it to eat. Alternatively, create a giant habitat area where all of the class's creatures can live together.
  • A Change in Habitat: Analyze what might happen if an animal was moved from its habitat to a different one. Would it be able to survive? Might it eventually develop new adaptations? In terms of the changes in climate due to global warming, what might this mean for the future of animals and humans?

Literature Extension

  • Is Your Creature Extreme? Read about amazing animal adaptations in Extreme Animals: The Toughest Creatures on Earth by Nicola Davies and then invite students to emulate the author's and illustrator's styles while creating a page celebrating their new creature's features.

Technology Extension
Visit http://the1stday.com/ and download the Elmer's 1st Day app to capture and share the first day of school and beyond. You can create slideshows, personalize photos, share "first day" albums, and more.

HOME CONNECTION
In this home connection activity, students will discuss the theme of adaptation with family members to gain a better sense of how people adapt to new situations. Students will interview a relative to find out what changes he or she made in order to survive difficult times, adjust to a new school or job, or make the most of opportunities in a new city. Have students record these stories and bring in a photo of the relative they interviewed to share with the class. As a group, discuss any common themes between the stories shared by the students, as well as examples of human adaptations in various settings around the globe.

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