Life cycle of an Animal

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SWBAT independently explain the life cycle of an animal by creating and using a circular flow chart.

Big Idea

This lesson introduces students to the cycle of an animal. It is a foundational lesson for future life science studies.


20 minutes

This lesson begins with the kids gathering on the floor so I can explain what we will be doing during our science lesson today. This lesson mirrors the prior lesson, Life cycle of a tree. In this lesson, each set of pictures is the life cycle of a different animal.


I will ask the table leaders to come up and get an envelope that has pictures in it. Table leaders, make sure the envelope stays closed until I ask you to take the pictures out.

I will call one table at a time to go sit at  the table like scientists. Remember to keep your hands in your lap when you get to your table. Do not touch anything until I ask you to do something.

Once we are all ready, I will ask the table leaders to take the pictures out of the envelope.

You will work as a team at your table to put the pictures in order. I am not going to tell you what the pictures are about because I want you to look at them and try to figure that out on your own. This activity is very similar to the last one we did with the trees. That should help you to know what we are going to do today.

Your table team is going to work together to put the pictures in order. That means you will all have to talk about the pictures before you do anything with them. Once your team is in agreement with what order the pictures go in, lay them out in that order and raise your hands. 

I will come to your table to check your work. If the pictures are in the correct order, I will give your table a large piece of construction paper to glue the pictures to. Take turns gluing the pictures on to the paper in order. You can glue the pictures into a circle like a wheel or you can glue them in a line. Either way is fine as long as you glue them in order.I give each table a paper that is the same as their table color. If you do not identify your tables by color, then do what works for you, e.g. numbers, team names.

As noted in the previous lesson, I have the kids engage in the life cycles before we do anything else because I want them to develop their own ideas before I give them any information. This makes the discussions much richer and it provides my struggling students and my ELL students with an experience and table discussion before I present information.

This provides them with a background knowledge and vocabulary that they may not already have. It is provided to by the discussions with their peers at the table.

After the Task:

Once the teams are finished making the posters, I collect them, without stacking them so they don't stick together, and I prepare them for the teams to come up and present. As I collect the posters, I double check to make sure the steps are glued in place correctly. If I encounter a poster with a problem, I quickly meet with the group and correct it before they present.


15 minutes

I have the kids come back to the floor one table at a time and sit quietly with their hands in their laps.

I ask each team to come up and share their work with the class. They are all given an opportunity to speak. It’s always exciting to hear them talk about their work. Somehow someone in the group knows just how to start off and the others follow their lead. I have them tell the class what animal they have and explain why they chose to glue the pictures in the order they did. I also ask them to tell us what they have learned about that animal by studying the pictures and putting them in order.

If the group struggles to share what they did and what they’ve learned, I ask them open ended questions like, "Please explain to us what animal you have." “Can you tell us about your poster?” “What do you think these pictures are about?” “Why is it important to put the pictures in the correct order?” I also provide sentence stems when needed such as, “We learned ……about our animal by……”

I then ask the class if they have any questions about the poster for the group. This encourages the students to learn from each other and begins the development of stating, defending and dialogue. It is the onset of argumentation based on evidence. Since this is the second experience of this type, I expect the interaction between students to be a bit stronger than the first time. I expect that I have to do less prompting and that my higher kids will begin to model interactions without my prompting.


5 minutes

When the groups finish their presentations, I have the kids stay seated on the floor. I ask them what they can tell me about the life cycle of the different animals. For this section of the lesson, I call on volunteers so the kids can learn from each other. My stronger students usually lead in this section and the others follow.

As the kids share their ideas, I ask questions like, "How is the life cycle of a fish similar to the life cycle of a frog?" along with other comparisons. It is okay to compare animals that are like and not like. For instance, I will sometimes ask them to compare the life cycle of a bird and a frog.

I expect the kids to use complete sentences and clear explanations. I assist when needed, but I always give the students an opportunity to support each other before I jump in.


10 minutes

When the groups finish their presentations, I have the kids stay seated on the floor. I ask them what they can tell me about the life cycle of a particular animal. For this section of the lesson, I call on volunteers. Kids do listen to each other to gain information.

As the kids share their ideas, I hold up the poster represents the life cycle of that animal. If the kids give information out of order, I simply ask them to use the poster to help them state the cycle steps in order.

This section is so important because the explanation is now coming from the students rather than me. They are taking ownership of their own learning and are beginning to learn to cultivate arguments and discussion based on evidence.

I end this section of the lesson by having the kids view a few quick Youtube videos of life cycles, as many as remaining time will allow:








10 minutes

To close out this lesson, I have the kids cut and glue four pictures, in their journals, in order that depict the life cycle of an animal. There are six different cycles so everyone at a single table has a different life cycle. They can help each other, but they cannot copy. I roam the room as they work to deal with any issues before the kids glue them down.

As they work, I roam the room asking students at random why they put their pictures in the order they did. I also ask some kids to tell me what certain pictures in the life cycle means and how it fits into the life cycle of that animal.

Upload cut and paste pages

Once the kids are finished and I have collected their science journals, I have them gather once again on the floor. We review the steps in the life cycle of a bird. As the kids share the steps in the life cycle of a bird, I record it on chart paper in a flow chart. I post the chart in the room for future reference next to the life cycle of a tree.

Journal reflection: Most of my students get it correct without my assistance. This tells me that they learned what they needed to through this lesson. They are ready to go on to the next lesson, Cycling through some life! which has them comparing the life cycle of a plant or tree to that of an animal.