Animal Adaptations, Their Best Defense

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Determine how a specific inherited trait or adaptation helps an animal survive by observing and discussing in collaborative groups.

Big Idea

All animals have at least one specific trait that helps defend it from predators.


1 minutes

Warm up

5 minutes

Sometimes a short video is enough to get students excited about a topic, make it a short video about animals defending themselves and I've got their full attention! This lesson on specific adaptions or traits meant to help animals defend themselves, is one of my students' favorites because they learn new and interesting facts that they can use when they conduct short research on these animals the next day. The AnimalDefensesDay1 PowerPoint enables me to touch on different learning styles while keeping them all engaged and the use of the modified frayer model helps solidify the academic vocabulary that is central to the Common Core Standards.


Guided practice

15 minutes

For this lesson, I used a cooperative group activity, the carousel strategy. I did modify it a bit, because this activity lays the foundation for the next day's lesson. This strategy provided scaffolding for my students while they discovered new information and discussed their thoughts in small groups, all the while, moving around the room. I had set the pictures far enough apart so that when my students rotated around the classroom, stopping at various places where I had posted the picture of an animal and one or more of their characteristics, they would not disturb the other groups. I created a Pictures for Carousel and Explanation of Carousel strategy in a PowerPoint. I just  printed the  animals  and laminated them in order to use them again. I also included a video of how to do the Carousel Method just in case you are new to this strategy!  I love the carousel strategy because it allows for small group discussion, followed by whole-class discussion. The students are engaged every step  of the way!



30 minutes

I mentioned that I modified the carousel strategy for this lesson. During a carousel activity, students usually leave notes, either on post-its, or on chart paper for the next group to read and then add to. I opted instead, to create an KW Day 1 Graphic Organizer for Carousel, where they could write what they think they know and then how they think the particular  trait mentioned could help the animal defend itself and survive.This was an overview lesson on adaptations and defenses, had it been a review, then the original format may have worked best. For my group, this was a better fit. They were really engrossed in the activity and were not influenced by other group's ideas. I placed the number of the picture they were to start with in an envelope and they then traveled clockwise when the timer went off (every 3 min). It worked wonderfully well. I've included a sample of a completed organizer .


Class Discussion/Wrap up

15 minutes

Best part of the whole lesson! The students returned to their seats and then I used the powerpoint to revisit the pictures and info again while I added the information they discussed. Using the carousel enabled all of my students to participate in this activity and feel like they contributed to the discussion. If you noticed, I included some animals that they would be familiar with, but may not have known that particular interesting adaptation fact. For example, the squirrel, and the fact that it can turn it's feet 180 degrees to run and get away.  I believe that had I not used the carousel, the students would have still like the lesson but the level of engagement would have been a lot less.