About This Lesson Plan


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Hands-On Lessons

Ode to My Pet Reptile

Celebrate the wonders of reptiles as students practice basic research skills, write reptile-themed poems, and create sparkly new reptile pets to wear!


Students will:

  • Research basic facts about a reptile of their choice
  • Incorporate what they have learned about this reptile into a poem
  • Explore different poetry forms
  • Create a wearable reptile "pet" with paper, markers, and glitter glue

Common Core Standards
SL.K.1. Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about kindergarten topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.

SL.K.5., SL.1.5. Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions as desired to provide additional detail.

SL.K.6. Speak audibly and express thoughts, feelings, and ideas clearly.

SL.1.1. Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 1 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.

RI.1.6. Distinguish between information provided by pictures or other illustrations and information provided by the words in a text.

SL.1.5. Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.

RI.2.4. Determine the meaning of words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 2 topic or subject area.

SL.2.1. Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 2 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.

W.K.7., W.1.7, W.2.7. Participate in shared research and writing projects.

Elmer's® Classic Glitter Glue, Elmer's® Disappearing Purple Glue Stick, writing paper, white construction paper or card stock, markers, pencils, scissors, and "Reptile Research Poem" student page


Content Overview: Reptiles are a certain class of animals that share common characteristics.

  • Reptiles include snakes, lizards, turtles, tortoises, alligators, and crocodiles
  • Reptiles are cold-blooded, whereas mammals, like humans, are warm-blooded
  • Reptiles breathe air, unlike fish, which have to stay under the water to live
  • Reptiles are vertebrates, which means they have backbones made of bone or cartilage and usually have bony skeletons
  • Reptiles usually lay eggs
  • Reptiles have skin covered in scales or bony plates
  • An acrostic poem uses the letters in a topic word (e.g., reptile) to begin each line. Each line should be related to or describe the topic.
  • A shape poem describes an object and is also shaped like the object it describes.

Acquire grade-appropriate books about reptiles for students to use in their research. Cut one 1-inch strip of construction paper or card stock for each student to facilitate making an armband for his or her reptile pet. Distribute Reptile Research Poem printable.

Reptile, cold-blooded, vertebrate


Introduction (10 minutes)
Introduce students to the world of reptiles by displaying images depicting various kinds of reptiles from around the world. Explain that these animals are called reptiles because they share some common features that are different from other types of animals. Ask students to look at the pictures and describe what makes a reptile's skin different from that of a person's, cat's, or bird's. Explain that one of the features of all reptiles is that their skin is covered with scales or bony plates. Have students look at the type of environment where these reptiles live; is it above water or under water? What does that tell them about how reptiles breathe? Explain that, like people, reptiles breathe air, but unlike people, reptiles are cold-blooded, meaning their blood is warmed from the outside of their bodies and thus varies with the temperature around them. Also unlike people, reptiles usually lay eggs.

Reptile Research (30 minutes)
Offer students a selection of grade-appropriate books about reptiles and ask them to select a reptile to be the subject of their research, poem, and craft project. Students could also perform their research using school-approved websites. Display the printable Reptile Research Poem on the whiteboard or distribute individual copies to students. Discuss the elements of the printable including what information the students should find out about their reptiles.

Poem Writing (20 minutes)
Once students have recorded the required facts about their chosen reptile, discuss the poetry forms modeled on the printable Reptile Research Poem. Distribute writing paper and ask students to select either an acrostic poem or a shape poem, then compose a short poem incorporating facts from their research.

Reptile Pet Creation (20 minutes, plus one day to dry)
Using a photo for reference, have students draw the outline and basic features of their reptile on a half sheet of white construction paper or card stock. Next, invite students to use Elmer's Glitter Glue to add color and sparkle to their reptile pet. Allow the reptile pets to dry overnight.

Once the glittery reptile pets are dry, have students use scissors to carefully cut out their reptile. Divide students into pairs to create the armbands for their pets by wrapping a 1-inch by 8½-inch strip of construction paper or card stock around the classmate's arm and then marking the place where the strip should overlap in order to create a snug ring. Have students use Elmer's Disappearing Purple Glue Sticks to glue the armband strip into a ring and then attach the ring to the back of the reptile pet, pressing firmly to ensure a good bond.

Wrap-up (20 minutes)
As a group, invite students to wear their new reptile pets as they tell the class about its features and share their poems.

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


Whiteboard Extension Activities

  • What's the Same? What's Different? On the whiteboard draw a Venn diagram composed of two partially overlapping circles. Label one circle "reptiles" and one circle "mammals." Discuss the characteristics of each class of animals and invite students to help determine where on the diagram to write each characteristic. For example, "cold-blooded" would fall into the "reptile" circle, but "breathes air" would be written in the space where the two circles overlap as both reptiles and mammals breathe air. At the end of the exercise, discuss what characteristics make mammals, like people, different from reptiles and what characteristics are shared.
  • School Pride Poem: On the whiteboard, write the name of your school vertically in one or two columns in order to create the structure for an acrostic poem about your school. For each letter, ask students to contribute a thought about what makes their school great or what they love about their days at school. Encourage every student to contribute to the poem!

Extension Activities  

  • Pet Essentials: Invite students to draw a habitat for their reptile pets showing the natural environment where they live and the kind of food they eat.
  • A Day With My Pet: Ask students to consider what it might be like to care for their pet reptiles if they were actual living animals. Pass out paper and pencils and invite students to write a short story about a day at home with their new pet. What would their parents say about this new pet? Where would it live at their house? What tasks would have to be done each day to keep their pet healthy? How might they play with their pet? What do they imagine would be the best part of having this type of reptile as a pet?

Literature Extension

  • Reptile Read-along: Invite all of the reptile pets to join their human keepers in listening to a great story about reptiles such as The Yucky Reptile Alphabet by Jerry Pallotta, Give Up, Gecko! by Margaret Read MacDonald, or I Wanna Iguana by Karen Kaufman Orloff. Ask the reptile pets to listen closely to the story to hear if they're mentioned!

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.

In this home connection activity, students will interview their family members about how they would feel if their glittery paper reptile were a real living pet. Encourage students to find out why their mother, father, sister, or brother would want that kind of pet in the house or why they would absolutely not want to have that kind of pet at home. After this assignment, invite students to compare the results of their interviews in small groups.

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