How Do You Survive?

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Students will be able to read emergent texts with purpose and understanding.

Big Idea

Matching animal adaptations to the correct page in a book helps students comprehend the text.


10 minutes

Gather students on the rug using a preferred classroom management technique. I like to use my “Stop, look, listen.” The students stop what they are doing, look at me and listen for the direction. I usually preface the direction with, “When I say go…” This reminds the students to listen to the whole direction before moving to follow the directive.

In this case I would say, “When I say go I would like you to clear your space, push in your chair and go take a spot on your dot. Walking feet go.” By saying walking feet I am reminding the students to use walking feet in the classroom to ensure safe movement between areas.

When all of the students are seated on their dot in the rug area I open up the screen on the SMARTBoard.

On the SMARTBoard I have already loaded the PebbleGo website. This website has many resources on numerous topics but it is a paid subscription site. Our school subscribes to the site so we have access to many research opportunities for our students. The site can be used either to introduce students to a topic, which is what I am doing today, or used to support instruction.

After clicking on Animals, click on Animal Habitats, and then click on Polar Animals.

“Boys and girls, today we are going to look at some of the different kinds of animals you will find living at the poles. We will listen to the narrator as he tells us about different animals and the adaptations they use to survive in these harsh habitats.”

“Does anyone know what I mean when I use the word “adaptation”?”

I will select a student who is following the correct protocol of raising their hand to answer the question.

“That was a good try Connor. An adaptation means you have changed your body or behavior to help you survive in a specific habitat.”

“You will need to use your listening ears and observing eyes to pick up on all the facts we are about to see and hear.”

Once we have listened to each of the little informative sections I turn off the SMARTBoard and ask the students, “Who can tell me one adaptation we just heard about or saw?”

I will select a student who is following the correct protocol of raising their hand to answer the question.

“Yes Finnley, I heard that the seal has a thick layer of fat. Who remembers the scientific word for that thick layer of fat?”

“Well done Rachel; it was blubber.”

I will continue on this line of questioning until I have covered the main forms of adaptation we saw on the informative Pebble Go page.

“Great observing and listening team. Now I would like you all to stand up stretch as high as you can go, bend down low and touch your toes, now touch your left elbow to your right knee, touch your right elbow to your left knee, turn around three times and sit back down on your spot.”


 I use the PebbleGo website to give my students some insight to different adaptations. This will help the students when it comes time to match different adaptations to the correct animal in the emergent reader during the lesson activity. 


45 minutes


“Today we are going to read the book Polar Animal Adaptations. This book is written by Lisa J. Amstutz. Looking at the cover of this book do you think it will be fiction or non-fiction?”

I select a student who is following the correct protocol of raising their hand to answer the question.

“Why do you think it is going to be a non-fiction book Owen?”

“Owen thinks this will be a non-fiction book because the picture on the cover looks real and we are reading to learn something.”

“When we are reading to learn something boys and girls we are reading to be informed, so we need to read informational text.”

I open the book to the first page and we discuss how we see a table of contents.

“Can anyone tell me what this page is?”

I point to someone who is raising their hand.

“You're right Adam it is a table of contents. The table of contents page does what?”

I point to another student.

“That’s right Kara it does tell where to find information.”

“Here is a hard question for you all. Does anyone remember other features of the book that will tell us this is a non-fiction book?”

I select enough students to respond to this question until we have covered all of the features of a non-fiction book. Features such as: pop-out words (bold words), index, and glossary and perhaps labels. Any features that were missed by the students I will bring up during this discussion.

“Okay let’s go ahead and read our book to find out what kinds of adaptations polar animals have made to survive in their habitat.”


During reading will discuss why certain adaptations were made and some new vocabulary words. Words such as: blubber, hooves, dense, etc. I will not discuss all of the new words as I would lose my audiences interest and the flow of the book would be interrupted.


After reading I tell the students to take a seat around the edge of the rug. While the students are moving to the edge of the rug I get down the sample reader I have made.

“Today you will be making your own informational reader to take home and share with your family. This book will help you recall some of the adaptations we read about and saw today.”

“You will get a book like this one and a sheet of animal part pictures (I hold up both for the students to see).”

N.B. For times sake I make the books up ahead of time and have the animal parts put in a ziploc bag or in containers for the students to take out and match to the correct page in the book. 

“It will be your job to go through the book and match the correct animal part with the correct animal.”

“Once you have matched all the animal parts to the right page, you will need to color your book using scientific coloring. Who remembers what I mean by scientific coloring?”

I select a student to respond.

“Well done Sara. Scientific coloring means that I will use real colors to match the animals and habitat I am coloring. If I needed to check an animal or habitat color, what resources could I use?”

“Good work explaining the resources Ava. I could use books and posters around the room to check my ideas.”

“After you have finished coloring you will place your work in the finished work bin. Later on during the day I will ask students to come and read their book to me.”

“When you come to read your book to me what are some strategies I could use to read the words?”

I select several students to respond to the question as I want all of the strategies we have worked on in small reading group time to be mentioned.

“Those are all good strategies readers use to read books. They sound out words, they use picture clues, they chunk words, and they skip a word and then reread to see what word would make sense. I am looking to see which strategies you use while reading to me. You may want to practice with a friend before you put your book in the bin.”

“Does anyone have any questions?”


Once I feel the group has a good grasp of the instructions I send the students over one table group at a time to maintain a safe and orderly classroom. It usually sounds like this;

“Table number one let’s go have some book making fun.

Table number two, you know what to do.

Table number three, hope you were listening to me, and

Table number four, you shouldn’t be here anymore.”


Allow the students 15 minutes to work on this activity. Set a visual timer and remind the students to look at the timer so they will use their time wisely.

Students working on putting books together.

Student gluing the correct adaptation onto the correct page.



Emergent Readers.


10 minutes

When the time is up I blow two short blasts on my whistle and use the “Stop, look listen” technique mentioned above. “When I say go, I would like you to clean up your space remembering to take care of our things, push in your chair, and use walking feet to go and take a spot on your dot.”

Students know to put completed work in the finished work bin. Any work that is not completed goes into the under construction bin and can be completed throughout the day whenever the student finds he/she has spare time or it will be completed during free choice center time.

Covers of student books.

Cover.               1st page.               2nd page.               3rd page.               Last page.


Once the students are seated I tell them their exit slip for today is to tell me one adaptation they recall from our lesson today.

After a student has told me the adaptation they recall they are able to use the hand sanitizer and go to get their snack. If a student is unable to give me an answer, they know they can do one of two things.

  1. They can ask a friend to help, or
  2. They can wait until everyone else has gone and then we will work together on coming up with an adaptation together. 


Today's exit ticket shows me who can recall what an adaptation is and whether or not the student paid attention to the information they were introduced to during the activity. 


For this assignment I will use the Adaptation Emergent Reader Checklist to go over the students work to make sure they met the objectives set for the assignment. Once I have completed the checklist, I attach it to the students work and place it in their collection portfolio.

Looking at the student’s work with the checklist helps me to stay focused on the objectives of the lesson. I am looking to see if the student is able to accurately follow the directions for the assignment which means they will meet the overall objective for the lesson. Did the student write their name on their work? Did the student correctly match all of the adaptations? Did the student use scientific (accurate/natural/real) coloring? Did the student read the text fluently to me? What reading strategies did the student use to decode unknown text? Notes on the strategies used by the student helps me to know which strategies I should introduce or reinforce, or in some cases re-teach, during small reading group time.  


Students use a blubber glove to “feel” the difference in temperature in a container of ice water. First the student uses a thermometer to take the temperature of the water. Second they place their hand in a Ziploc bag and place their hand in the ice water. We time how long we spend in the ice water. They describe the way their hand feels and record it on the recording sheet.

Next the student places their hand in the pre-made “blubber” glove and places their hand in the ice water. Once again we time how long we spend in the ice water. They describe the way their hand feels and record it on the recording sheet.

Animal adaptations blubber glove experiment.                Students wearing blubber gloves. 

Blubber gloves in ice water.                                             Students recording results of blubber glove experiment.

Blubber Glove Experiment Recording Sheet.


Student practice their non-standard measurement skills as they use polar bear and penguin feet to measure items around the classroom. First they measure the item using penguin feet and record the measurement on the recording sheet. Then they measure the exact same item using polar bear feet. They record this measurement on the recording sheet next to the penguin feet. The students self-select the items they will measure and use phonetic spelling to label the item they are measuring. We discuss the size difference between the animal feet to explain the difference in measurement recordings.