Big Idea Unit

How Do Vertebrates Live and Grow?
by Mary Peterson

Why Big Idea Units? Big ideas are questions that do not have a quick and easy answer. Organizing your curriculum around big ideas is very bene cial and engaging to all students for these reasons: 1. Students make connections across subject areas. 2. Vocabulary is repeated naturally across the curriculum. 3. Big ideas lend themselves very easily to di erentiation. One big idea can be taught at several di erent levels. 4. Struggling students learn best when they recognize and understand the big picture then study the parts. 5. Big idea learning makes sense to students. They understand WHY they are learning something. What is in a Big Idea Unit? 1. Big Idea question 2. Purpose or expected outcome 3. Step-by-step cross curricular lesson plans 4. Leveled activities for di erent grades and abilities 5. Examples of student projects 6. Blackline masters to copy 7. Valuable Internet resources 8. A wealth of children’s literature suggestions
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How Do Vertebrates Live and Grow?

Purpose: Students will identify characteristics, life cycles and habitats of the ve di erent vertebrate animal groups. Lesson 1 Lesson 2 Lesson 3 Lesson 4 Lesson 5 Lesson 6 Lesson 7 Lesson 8 Introduction Reptiles Birds Fish Amphibians Mammals Camou age Animal Reports 2009

How Do Vertebrates Live and Grow?

Lesson 1 Introduction
Books: My Big Animal Book (My Big Board Books) by Roger Priddy Big Book of Animals by DK Publishing National Geographic Encyclopedia of Animals by Karen McGhee David McPhail's Animals A to Z by David McPhail Internet: Animal Classification Powerpoint Animal Groups Discussion: Introduce this unit to students by asking them to share what they know about animals with backbones, called vertebrates. Read and discuss one or more of the suggested books. Introduce the five vertebrate animal groups and discuss the major characteristics of each group. Animal Sort Level 1 - Write the names of the vertebrate animal groups on five posters. Copy and cut apart these Animal Pictures. Give each child a picture and have them say the name of their animal, then glue it on the correct poster. Save these posters to add more information learned during the unit.

Level 2 - Divide students into five teams and assign each team a different vertebrate group. Instruct students on each team to draw pictures of animals, o or glue photos of animals, and glue them onto a piece of poster board. Also have students write some of the characteristics of their animal group. Level 3 - Have each student make a vertebrate notebook. Ask them to make a cover for their book and have sections for each of the vertebrate animal groups. They can add pictures and information about the animals as they study about them.
By Bobby 2009

Lesson 2 Reptiles

How Do Vertebrates Live and Grow?

Books: What is a Reptile? by Bobbie Kalman Everything Reptile: What Kids Really Want to Know about Reptiles by Cherie Winner Eye Wonder: Reptiles by DK Publishing The Yucky Reptile Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta Internet: Reptile Basics Reptile Knowledge Reptile Species

Discussion: Reptiles (the word reptile means "to creep") are animals that have scales, breathe air, are cold blooded and usually lay eggs. Read and discuss one or more of the suggested books and talk about the characteristics of reptiles. Vertebrate Charts Write new information learned on the reptile chart or in the vertebrate notebooks. Level 3 students could choose one reptile to research further. Track That Scent Snakes and lizards have a special organ called a Jacobson's organ. The Jacobson's organ consists of holes in the roof of the mouth loaded with nerves. The lizard or snake will stick out its tongue to pick up chemicals floating in the air. It then sticks the tips of its tongue into the Jacobson's organ which turns the "smells" into electrical signals. These signals travel along the nerves from the Jacobson's organ to the brain. The brain then tells the snake what it is smelling. Many animals use their sense of smell to find out about the world around them. Activity - Give each student a scented envelope. Tell the students to smell their envelope. Have them try to find classmates whose envelopes smell like their own. Once they find someone, make sure they stay together in a group while seeking out others with the same scented envelope. Have students describe how it felt to rely on their sense of smell alone. In what ways do animals use their sense of smell? Hints: Finding food, avoiding predators, finding mates, finding water, finding a safe burrow, identifying objects. 2009

How Do Vertebrates Live and Grow?

Lesson 3 Birds
Books: What is a Bird? by Lola M. Schaefer Bird (DK Eyewitness Books) by David Burnie Do You Know About Birds? by Buffy Silverman The Bird Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta Internet: All About birds Bird Book Bird Pictures

Discussion: All birds have feathers, and they are the only animals that do. Also birds are warm blooded and lay eggs. Show students a selection of bird pictures and ask them to notice how the birds look different and alike. Discuss possible reasons why birds might have different beaks, claws, wing size, etc. Read and discuss one or more of the suggested books and talk about how birds live and grow. Vertebrate Charts Write new information learned about birds on the chart or in the vertebrate notebooks. Level 3 students could select a bird of interest to investigate. Feather types Gather different types of feathers or show students pictures of Types of Feathers. Talk about the purpose and appearance of each feather. Find information at Feather Structures. Have students draw and label a bird showing the different types of feathers. Bird Nests Many birds build nests for their eggs. There are many different kinds of nests. Show students pictures from this Web site: Birds Nests. Have students draw and write about several kinds of bird nests. Go to PBS Kids for a fun bird nest science project. 2009

How Do Vertebrates Live and Grow?

Lesson 4 Fish
Books: What is a Fish? by Bobbie Kalman What's It Like to Be a Fish? by Wendy Pfeffer Fish (DK Eyewitness Books) by Steve Parker Animals Called Fish by Kristina Lundblad Internet: Fish Anatomy All About Fish Fish Pictures

Discussion: Fish are vertebrate animals that live in water and are coldblooded. Most fish breathe using gills. Fish have been on the earth for more than 450 million years, and there are over 25,000 identified species of fish. Show students pictures of fish from some of the suggested books. Talk about the characteristics of fish and how they live and grow. Vertebrate Charts Write new information learned about fish on the chart or in the vertebrate notebooks. Parts of a Fish Level 1 - Give students a fish cutout and have students label a few basic parts (eye, fin, mouth, gills, tail). Then ask students to draw or paint a habitat for their fish. They can glue the fish into the habitat. Level 2 - Give each student a different fish printout. Have them draw and label the fish.Then students can write what they have learned about this type of fish. Level 3 - Instruct students to choose a species of fish to research. They can write about the characteristics of the fish and how it lives and grows. They can also draw and label the parts of the fish. Talking Shark Have students make a talking shark, following the directions on the next page. Level 3 students can create a more difficult talking shark from the directions at this Web page: How to Make a Shark Pop-up Page. 2009

How to Make a Talking Shark

1. Fold a piece of art paper in half.

2. On the folded edge cut a zig zag line as shown.

4. Open the paper, stand like a tent and fold the zig zag edges to the 3. Fold the zig zag edges up as shown. inside.

5. Turn the paper over, and you will have a talking shark mouth.

6. Draw a shark around the mouth. Write information about sharks below the picture, as if the shark is talking.

How Do Vertebrates Live and Grow?

Lesson 5 Amphibians
Books: What is an Amphibian? by Bobbie Kalman Amphibian by Barry Clarke Amphibians by Melissa Stewart How to Hide a Meadow Frog and Other Amphibians by Ruth Heller Internet: What Are Amphibians? Amphibian Printouts Amphibian Photos Discussion: Amphibians live part of their life in water and part on land. Even those species that lay eggs on land start life in a fluid-filled egg, breathing through gills. Show pictures of amphibians from the suggested books or Web sites. Talk about the characteristics of different amphibians and how they live and grow. Vertebrate Charts Write new information learned about amphibians on the chart or in the vertebrate notebooks. Level 3 students could select an amphibian of interest to investigate. Life Cycle Paper Plate Teach students the life cycle of some different amphibians. Have students draw (or use the pictures on the next page) the life cycle of an amphibian on a paper plate. Students can then write about the characteristics of this amphibian. Frogs and Toads There are about 3,500 known species of frogs and 300 kinds of toads. Have students create a Venn diagram showing the similarities and differences in frogs and toads. Find information about frogs and toads at 42 Explore and All About Frogs. You can find photos of frogs and toads at Google Images. 2009

Life Cycle of a Frog

Life Cycle of the Wood Frog

How Do Vertebrates Live and Grow?

Lesson 6 Mammals
Books: What is a Mammal? by Robert Snedden About Mammals: A Guide For Children by Cathryn Sill Eye Wonder: Mammals by DK Publishing Mammals (Questions and Answers) by Barbara Taylor Internet: World of Mammals National Geographic Mammal Photos Discussion: Nearly all mammals give birth to live young. All mammals are warm-blooded, use lungs to breathe air and are the only animals that grow hair. Show pictures of mammals from some of the suggested books and Web sites. Talk abouthow mammals live and grow. Vertebrate Charts Write new information learned about mammals on the chart or in the vertebrate notebooks. Level 3 students could select a mammal of interest to investigate. Mammal Matrix Level 1 - On a bulletin board create a matrix. Using some of the categories listed below, write information about the different mammals you study. Level 2 - Have small groups create a mammal matrix on poster paper. Level 3 - Give each student an enlarged copy of the matrix on the next page. They can research several mammals, and also include themselves.
Where They What and How Mammals Size Live They Eat
Carnivores Female lions are the pride's primary hunters. They often work Head and body together to prey upon Today they are found 4.5 to 6.5 ft Tail antelopes, zebras, on grasslands and - 26.25 to 39.5 wildebeest, and other plains of Saharan Weight: 265 to large animals of the Africa. 420 lbs open grasslands. After a big kill they might not eat again for days. They eat their prey all at once.

How They Move

How They Sleep

Social Characteristics

How They Protect How Long They Themselves Live

They run and walk and, unlike most cats, they are very good swimmers.

African Lion

Lions live in groups, which are called prides. Prides are family units that may include up to three males, a dozen or Lions only sleep about so females, and their young. four hours a day. They All of a pride's lionesses are They are the top of the food Lions live for 30 years go to sleep at night related, and female cubs chain. They have big teeth, a in captivity and 15 laying down in the typically stay with the group loud roar and run fast. years in the wild. grass. as they age. Young males eventually leave and establish their own prides by taking over a group headed by another male.

The wingspan is about 8 inches long. But the body is about the size of a human thumb.

The common vampire bat is found in the tropics of Mexico, Central America, and South America. They live in caves and other dark deserted places.

Carnivore Vampire Bats are the only mammals that Bats are the only feed entirely on blood. mammals that fly. They suck blood out of animals during the night.

They sleep during the day in total darkness. They hang upside down from the roofs of caves.

They typically gather in They hunt at night and sleep colonies of about 100 in the day. They have sharp Nine years in the wild animals, but sometimes live in teeth. groups of 1,000 or more.

Vampire Bat
Omnivore Danny eats fruits and I sleep nine hours at vegetables, I can walk, run, skip, nightime in a bed in my hamburgers, chicken and swim. bedroom. and lots of other plants and animals. I live with my mother and father and three little sisters. I have lots of friends at school and in my neighborhood. I play soccer and basketball with my friends. Like most mammals I have a big brain. I am smart enough to stay away from trouble makers. Also my parents, my teacher, and policemen protect me.

43 inches tall

I live in a house in Sunnvale, California

I think I will live to be 90 years old, because that is how old my great grandpa is.

Danny 2009

Where They Live They Eat Move Sleep Characteristics Themselves Live

What and How

How They

How They


How They Protect How Long They



How Do Vertebrates Live and Grow?

Lesson 7 Camouflage
Books: Camouflage: Changing to Hide by Bobbie Kalman Animals With Crafty Camouflage: Hiding in Plain Sight by Susan K. Mitchell The 10 Best Animal Camouflages by Cameron Lindsey I See Animals Hiding by Jim Arnosky Internet: Google Images of Camouflaged Animals Find the Animal Photos Camouflaged Animals Coloring Book Pages Habitat Photos Discussion: Look at pictures of camouflaged animals from the Web sites listed above or in one or more of the suggested books. Ask students if they know the word used to describe animals that blend into their surroundings. Ask why animals have this ability to adapt to their environments. Explain to students that when the color of an animal's skin resembles its background, or the pattern on its fur looks like the shadows in tall grass, or its shape makes it look like a rock, that is camouflage. Art Activity for All Levels Materials: a variety of animal print-outs colored habitat photos Directions: Instruct students to choose an animal and a habitat photo. Ask students to add color to the animal so it will blend in with their habitat picture. (You may want to help younger children identify and choose crayon colors to match those in the habitat picture.) After the students have finished coloring the animal, they should cut it out and glue it to the habitat picture. 2009

The Animal's Name: Classification: Anatomy/Appearance:





Life Cycle/Reproduction:



Species Survival Status:

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