Children learn the fascinating characteristics and behaviors of animals all over the planet with this interactive, comparative unit plan.
- Understand that mammals grow and change
- Identify characteristics of mammals
- Discover how mammals move, how they eat, and that they have different bodies
- Printed images of animal tracks
- Printed images of mammals, 6 of adult mammals and 6 of their corresponding babies
- Index cards
- Mammal Collage/Chart from A Planet Full of Animals: An Introduction to Animal Classification
- K-W-L Chart from A Planet Full of Animals: An Introduction to Animal Classification
- Dry cereal (not flakes)
- Paper plates, one per student
- Drawing paper
- A variety of fake fur scraps and/or thin strips of brown, black, and white construction paper
- Fiction and nonfiction books about or featuring mammals
- Optional: Zoo Pals paper plates by Dixie, one per student (instead of paper plates)
- Search online for images of animal tracks made by mammals (such as a bear or mountain lion) or use the book Animal Tracks by Arthur Dorros. Print or photocopy about 15 images of tracks. Before students arrive, tape the tracks across the wall of the classroom.
- Search for images of adult mammals and their baby counterparts. Select and print or photocopy six images of adults and six images of their babies (for a total of 12 images). Glue these images to index cards for the Mammal Memory Game.
- Group your students for rotation through four independent centers.
- Set up the centers as follows:
- Mammal Memory Game: Students will play an adult/baby mammal memory game with the 12 images on index cards.
- Eat Like a Mammal: Students will eat dry cereal without their hands. Set out a small paper plate for each child with a handful of dry cereal. Provide new plates each time children rotate.
- Draw and Glue Fur on the Mammal: Set up this center near the Mammal Collage for inspiration. Students will be drawing a mammal and gluing fake fur to it, so have paper, crayons, glue, scissors, and the fake fur scraps or construction paper available for student use.
- Mammal Read-a-Thon: Provide books about mammals, both non-fiction and fiction.
Step 1: Gather students together to review the mammal song from A Planet Full of Animals: An Introduction to Animal Classification. As you sing the song, display the mammal collage/chart. Encourage students to call out the names of the mammals displayed and name the ones they forget.
Step 2: Tell students that all animals have body coverings to help them survive. Ask students: What do mammals have covering their bodies? (fur or hair)
Step 3: Explain that animals use different parts of their bodies to get food. Ask students: What parts of their bodies do mammals use to eat? (teeth, claws)
Step 4: Remind students that some animals hatch from eggs and others are born from their mother's bodies. Ask students: Do mammals come from eggs or their mothers' bodies? (mothers' bodies)
Step 5: Show students the pictures of adult mammals and their corresponding baby mammals. If you have not played memory in your class before, demonstrate for the children. Lay the mammal cards face down and give each player a turn to flip over two cards and try to match the mother and baby. If they match, the player keeps the cards. If they don't, the player returns the cards. The player with the most cards wins.
Step 6: Show students that today they will be going to different centers to explore magnificent mammals. Explain the tasks at each of the four centers:
- Mammal Memory Game: Students will play an adult/baby mammal memory game, matching index cards with the adult mammals to cards with the same mammal as a baby.
- Eat Like a Mammal: Explain that, except for primates, mammals eat without their hands. Students will do the same in this center, eating dry cereal without using their hands.
- Draw and Glue Fur on the Mammal: Students will draw a mammal and then glue fake fur or cut fake fur (hair) to show its covering. They should use the Mammal Collage to get ideas.
- Mammal Read-a-Thon: Students can read various books depicting mammals.
Step 7: Students rotate through the centers in their groups, spending 10–15 minutes at each center.
Step 8: Gather students together to share what they learned. Add to the K-W-L Chart. Use a different color marker when writing student responses to indicate a later entry.
Supporting All Learners
When creating groups, combine high achievers with low or medium achievers.
Talk about the various habitats in which mammals live and the diversity of those places (e.g., whales in the ocean, tigers in the jungle, deer in the forest).
Ask students to bring in a book about mammals or a stuffed mammal animal from home.
Complete a picture of a mammal with covering.
- Did students work well in their groups?
- Were students engaged and on task the entire time?
- How might I do this lesson differently next time?
- Observe how students interact in their groups
- Note what students add to the K-W-L Chart