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Animal Adaptations: Survival by Structure

Created by: Jennifer Boudrow

Framingham State University- STEM 945
Grade Level: Fourth Grade
Unit Overview:
In this unit, students will study animal adaptations and understand that
adaptations help animals survive in their particular habitat. Students
will use technology to increase their knowledge of adaptations and
biomes and to present their final project.
By the end of the unit, students will understand that organisms
have adaptations that allow them to survive in a particular
biome. Students will exhibit their understanding by creating an
animal with an adaptation to a particular biome. Teachers will
evaluate the students Scratch, up cycling, or 3D printing
Students will be able to use technology to perform research with
a partner.
Students will be able to use the steps in Engineering Design
Process to solve a problem.
Students will be able to use technology to create and share their
final project.
Assessment Overview
There will be many formative assessments throughout the unit. This
will allow the teacher to check for understanding after or before each
new lesson. This is important so that certain concepts can be retaught
if necessary. In this unit, students will complete exit slips, worksheets,
and answer questions using Plickers to show the teacher whether or
not the material is being understood. Teachers can also ask questions
throughout the unit to informally assess the students. The summative
assessment is given at the end and shows whether or not students
have mastered the material. A rubric will be used to assess students on
their final project and presentation.

Lesson One: What are Adaptations?

Time Frame: Two Days (about 60 minutes each)
4-LS1-1. Construct an argument that animals and plants have internal
and external structures that support their survival, growth, behavior,
and reproduction.
Literacy. W.4.2.d-Provide a concluding statement or section related to
the information or explanation presented.
What if you had Animal Teeth? By Sandra Markle and Howard
Chart Paper
Adaptations Notebook Presentation
Exit Slips
Plickers Identification Cards
Bird Beaks Adaptations Notebook Presentation
Bird Beaks Adaptations Lab Sheet
Bird Beaks Adaptations Lab Materials (See Bird Beaks Teacher
Teacher Preparation (25 minutes)
1. Create a KWL Chart
2. Photocopy Bird Beaks Adaptations Lab Sheet
3. Prepare Lab Materials
Activity Steps-DAY 1:
1. Engage students by doing a read-aloud of the book What if you
had Animal Teeth? By Sandra Markle and Howard McWilliam.
2. Ask the students to turn and talk to a buddy to discuss why they
think we read that story. Allow students to share their ideas with
the class.

3. Tell the students that just like plants, animals have different
structures that allow them to survive in a particular location.
Explain that we will be studying different animals and learning
about how they survive in different biomes.
4. Complete a KWL chart about animal adaptations. Encourage
students to ask questions. Remind them that we will be filling in
the Learned section as we complete the unit.
5. Use the Adaptations Notebook Presentation to teach students
about adaptations.
a. One common misconception among children is that
animals choose to adapt. Remind students that this is a
natural process and is actually caused by a mutation, or
change, in the animals genes that have been passed down
from its parents. It takes a very long time for a whole
species of animals to develop new characteristics that are
best fit for its environment. Animals can change their
behavior in their lifetime, but not their structure.
6. Have students complete an Exit Slip. On the slip, they should
write one example of an adaptation an animal has for getting
food, and one adaptation an animal has for protection.
Formative Assessment
Exit Slip
Activity Steps-DAY 2:
Bird Beaks Adaptation Lab
Lesson Adapted From: Teaching Learning Collaborative (TLC) Bird
Created by: Karen Facey, Janice Pilcher, and Sharon Lewis
1. Using the Bird Beaks Adaptations Notebook Presentation discuss
with students that birds have different shaped beaks.
a. Focus on what birds eat and why their beaks are shaped
2. Divide the class evenly into six groups.
3. Hand out the Bird Beaks Adaptations Lab Sheet and review the
procedure with the students.
4. Set up the materials and review the expectations.
a. Explain that the small cup is used as the birds stomach.
Demonstrate how the students should hold the cup.
5. Follow the Procedure on the Bird Beaks Adaptations Lab Sheet.

6. Once each group has had the opportunity to eat each food
supply, have students record their observations. Then, they
should fill in their response in the conclusion section. Remind
them to write using complete sentences.
Formative Assessment
Bird Beaks Adaptations Lab Sheet
Lesson 1 Technology Application:
Technology is used in this lesson to present information on animal
adaptations. Students view videos and participate in interactive
activities on the Smartboard. This is an example of augmentation
from the SAMR model. Common classroom tasks are being
accomplished through the use of technology. The images on the
presentation give students a better understanding of the material
being discussed rather than having students simply read the
Lesson Two: Biome Research
Time Frame: About 1 hour
3-5.DTC.c.4 Gather and organize information from digital sources by
quoting, paraphrasing, and/or summarizing
8. Recall relevant information from experiences or gather relevant
information from print and digital sources; take notes and categorize
information, and provide a list of sources.
Literacy.RI.4.4-Determine the meaning of general academic and
domain-specific words or phrases in a text relevant to a grade 4 topic
or subject area.
4.11 Describe the climate, major physical features, and major natural
resources in each region.
Cell Phone/iPad
Plickers ID cards
Biome Webquest
iPads/Computers (one/pair of students)

Teacher Preparation (About 30 minutes)

1. Set Up a Plickers account
2. Assign Students to Plickers ID cards
3. Add 5 questions about adaptations
4. Photocopy Biome Webquest
Activity Steps-DAY 1
1. Engage students by posting questions about adaptations on
a. Plickers is a website/iPhone application that allows
students to answer questions by holding up a personal
identification card. The teacher can use his/her phone to
scan the students answers.
2. Explain to students; today we are going to be researching
different biomes. Each partnership is going to become experts on
a particular biome. You will conduct research on your biome and
eventually use your new knowledge to design an animal with
adaptations to survive there.
3. Assign partners and handout the Biome Webquest. Review the
questions with the students.
4. Next, using the Smartboard, show the students the sites already
bookmarked on Symbaloo for each biome.
5. Choose one biome to show them how to locate information. Talk
about the headings of each section and the links to additional
websites on the bottom.
Formative Assessment:
Plickers Responses (scores compiled online)
Biome Webquest
Lesson 2 Technology Application:
Technology is used in lesson two for students to perform research on
biomes. This is an example of augmentation in the SAMR model.
Students have access to new information through the use of
technology, allowing them to become more engaged in their learning.
The use of Plickers is also an example of augmentation from the
SAMR model. Students and teachers can receive immediate feedback
from the Plickers application. This information shows the level of
student understanding and allows teachers to review and reteach
information if necessary before beginning a new lesson.

Lesson Three: Animal Design

Time Frame: About Four class periods (about an hour each)
3-5-ETS1-1 Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want
that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on
materials, time, or cost.
4-LS1-1. Construct an argument that animals and plants have internal
and external structures that support their survival, growth, behavior,
and reproduction.
Math.4.MD.A.1- Know relative sizes of measurement units within one
system of units including km, m, cm; kg, g; lb, oz; L, mL; hr, min, sec.
Within a single system of measurement, express measurements in a
larger unit in terms of a smaller unit
3-5.CT.d.1 Create, test, and modify a program in a graphical
environment (e.g., block-based visual programming language),
individually and collaboratively.

Animal Poster Requirements Handout

Poster Board (one/group)
Computer or iPads (one/group)
3D printer (if choosing option 3)

Teacher Preparation (5 minutes)

Photocopy Animal Poster Requirements Handout
If you arent familiar with Scratch, take some time to use the
website (30 min)
Activity Steps-DAYS 1 and 2: Poster Design
1. Engage students by explaining that they are going to design a
new animal. Students will use the engineering design process to
answer the question; how can you design an animal with
adaptations to survive in your particular biome?
2. Handout the Animal Poster Requirements Handout. Review
directions with the class.
a. Spend time discussing how to draw an animal to scale. If
the animal is 30 centimeters long, 1 centimeter could
represent 1 decimeter. Draw an example on the board.
3. Remind students to plan their poster on the back of the sheet.
Once they have finished, they should check in with the teacher
before they may begin their poster.
a. Discuss the layout of the poster. Remind students to
organize their information into sections and to include
4. Creating the poster will take at least two class periods.
5. If the devices are available, students can design their posters
using PowerPoint. Step by step instructions on how to format a
poster can be found here:
6. Once posters are finished, students can share them with their
teacher, and the teacher can compile them into a slideshow.
Activity Steps-DAYS 3 and 4: Animal construction
*There are multiple options for the final phase of the unit depending
on availability of building resources.
Option 1: Scratch
*This project should only be completed via Scratch if students have
used it before to perform basic coding tasks.

1. Students can use the website to create

their animal.
2. First, students can draw their animal on Scratch by painting a
new sprite Students can create their own sprite by clicking on
the paintbrush symbol.
3. Once their animal is created, they can draw their biome as the
background. This can be done by clicking the paint brush symbol
under new backdrop
4. Once the animal and back drop have been created, students can
use coding to include animation, sound, and text.
5. Before students begin, teach them how to include text by
displaying Scratch on the Smartboard.
a. Under scripts, click looks
b. Next to say type in the information that you want to
c. See image below.

6. Brainstorm with the students what type of text would be valuable

to add to their project
a. Food chains, biome information, information about the
animal, etc.
Option 2: Upcycling
1. Explain to students that they will be building their animals using
materials from the classroom and their homes. Up cycling can be
tied in to the project, requiring that students use a certain
number of recyclable items in their project.
2. Students should build their animal to scale, like they did for their
3. See attached images for examples.

Option 3: 3D Printing
Adapted from:
1. Students can use an APP such as SketchBook Express to sketch

their animal.
2. The animal can then be added to the 123D Sculpt App where a
background of the biome can be included.
3. Students can also use 3D printing software to print their animals
for a classroom zoo
Summative Assessment
Poster Presentation Rubric
Lesson 3 Technology Application:
In lesson three, there are two options for technology use for the final
project. Using both Scratch and 3D printing are examples of
redefinition in the SAMR model. These tasks would not be possible
without the use of technology.

Bird Beak Adaptations

Question: Why does a hummingbird's beak look different from a pelican's
Hypothesis: A hummingbird's beak looks different than a pelican's beak

because a hummingbird ________________________________, while a

pelican ________________________________________.
Beak Types: scissors, tweezers, forks, spoons, pencils with tape
Food Types: marbles, paperclips, paper squares, pipe cleaner pieces, pencil
science packet
1. Form bird groups
2. When the whistle blows once, begin to eat as many of your food item as
you can by placing eat food item in your stomach (your cup).
3. When the whistle blows twice, stop. Record how much of each food item
you ate.
4. Wait for the teacher to call groups to rotate to the next station.
5. Repeat. Listen for any changes in directions.
When making observations in your group, use the following sentence starters:
"I observe"
"I notice that"
"The beaks are different because"
What did you observe during this activity? What beak types were wellsuited or poorly-suited for the given food types?


1. Look back at your question and prediction. Record any additional
information you learned from our experiment.
2. Why are birds' beaks different depending on what they eat?

Biome Webquest
Directions: Read about your biome and answer the
questions below.

1. What is the name of the biome you are

2. Where is your biome located?

3. What is the weather like?

4. What are some plants that can be found there?

5. What are some animals that can be found there?

6. What are some adaptations that the animals have

to survive in your biome?

7. Write an interesting fact that you learned about

your biome.

8. If you lived in this biome, what would you do to

survive? What type of clothing would you wear? List
your ideas below.

Name ___________________________
Group Members
Animal Poster Requirements

Check off each item after you have included it in your

You need to include:
Name of animal
Colored and labeled picture of animal
Animal dimensions (size)
o Draw your animal to scale (1cm=1dm, etc.)
Life span
Animal classification: fish, amphibian, reptile, bird, or
mammal (see pgs. 88-89)
Description of biome in which animal lives
Animals physical and behavioral adaptations that are
suited to its environment (see Chapter 3, Lesson 6)
Label animal as omnivore or carnivore and include
animals diet
Include animals place in food chain, linked back to
green plants
Outline your poster on the back of this paper.

Student Work Samples: