A Planet Full of Animals
- Grades: PreK–K
- Unit Plan:
There are lots of different kinds of animals in all shapes, sizes, and colors roaming our planet. They move in different ways and have various coverings on their body. In this lesson, children will begin to notice similarities and differences in animals (including people) and group them together by one or more traits.
- Observe that various kinds of animals have similarities and differences
- Sort and classify various kinds of animals: mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and insects
- One plastic baggie with a picture of each kind of animal for each pair of children
- Tape or another non-permanent adhesive
- Large sheets of chart paper
Set Up and Prepare
- Collect various pictures of animals (e.g. mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and insects) using magazines, the Internet, zoo brochures, etc.
- Cut out and place one picture of each kind of animal in a plastic baggie for each pair of children.
- Prepare a K-W-L chart, using three columns. This will be used throughout the unit. The first column, K, is for listing what the children know about a subject (animals). The middle column, W, will be used later to record what they want to know. The third column, L, will be used to close the lesson and record what they have learned at the end of the unit.
- Label each piece of chart paper with a type of animal and adhere a few pictures to the paper to begin a collage. Make sure there are at least three charts (one each for mammals, fish, and birds).
- If necessary, pre-assign small groups of students for each animal chart.
Step 1: Gather the children together and tell them that today they are going to begin talking about animals. Write "Animals" at the top of the K-W-L chart. Ask students what they know about animals and record responses. Tell them to join you in singing a song to a familiar tune: "Old McDonald." As you sing the song, show them the appropriate animal chart. Here are the lyrics:
The kindergartners saw some animals,
They are not the same.
Some of them, we call mammals,
Can you guess their name?
(Make sounds of some mammals: cow, cat, dog, lion, mouse, etc.)
Repeat for fish, birds, and any other categories of animals you included on the charts. For each verse, display the corresponding chart for that type of animal and making appropriate sounds.
Step 2: Tell students that they're going to explore the wonderful world of animals. Show them again the different groups of animals that you will be discussing in the unit. Distribute the bags of pre-cut animals to partners. Ask students to discuss the pictures with their partner. While they're examining the pictures, set out the animal charts around the room.
Step 3: After the partner discussion, ask students to walk around the room and place their pictures on the charts where they think each animal belongs. Allow them to place the pictures wherever they like, but talk to them about their choices. Distribute tape so they can affix the animals from their baggies onto the charts.
Step 4: Gather students back on the carpet. Assign groups to study an animal chart. Ask them to share with their team about how the animals in that group are the same. Go around to each group to listen and observe. Move any incorrect animals to the correct location.
Step 5: Have each team present their collage to the class and tell what they observed. Ask students to tell how the animals pictured are alike (e.g., body coverings, number of feet, size, habitat, how they move).
Step 6: Refer students back to the K/W/L chart. Ask what they now want to know about animals. Throughout the unit, when children have questions about animals, chart them under W. If necessary, incorporate activities throughout the unit that would address these questions.
Supporting All Learners
When assigning partners, match high achievers with low or medium achievers.
Have children draw a picture of one kind of animal and add it to the appropriate collage. Discuss another group of animals that children may be curious about, such as invertebrates, and add pictures to an invertebrates collage.
Invite children and families to bring in pictures of family pets to add to the collage. Use photocopies of the pictures so the originals are not damaged.
- Sort and classify animals.
- Add to collages with a small group.
- Did the children use new vocabulary?
- Were the children able to sort and classify with justification?
- Did children work well in partners and in groups?
- Were the children engaged and on task the entire time?
- How might I do this lesson differently next time?
Observe how children group pictures and listen to their oral expressions during partner, team, and class discussions.