Survival of the Fittest

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SWBAT identify parts of different creatures that help them to survive in different environments

Big Idea

Fins, gills, claws, wings, each has a special purpose in helping an animal to survive.

I Can Statement

5 minutes

In today's lesson students will begin to work towards an understanding of the diversity of life within a single habitat. One way to approach this is to look at how animals have different parts that help them to adapt to their habitat, and to avoid predators or capture prey. Calling a student's attention to some of these differences, (i.e. that not all beaks are the same) can help them to understand more about diversity.

In order to help students identify how certain parts of animals help them to survive, I present them with an I Can Statement. I say, "lets read our I Can Statement together so we know what we will be thinking about today." We read, "I can figure out what an imaginary animal does and what it might eat by looking at the parts of its body."

I say, "can you think of a part of you that helps me to know that you are able to walk upright and not crawl?" (our legs, our feet). "What would happen if we didn't have strong legs?" (We wouldn't be able to walk.) "So our legs are one things that helps us to get from place to place. Is there another part of you that helps you to hold things?" (Hands, fingers, etc.) "Right so different parts of us help us to do the things we need to do to survive. Do you think that is true of animals too? Why do you think that it is true or not true?" ( I let students talk share their ideas about certain parts of animals they know of that help them survive.)

I invite students to come to the rug.

A Matching Game

15 minutes

"We are going to play a matching game together for a few minutes. Every time you make a match you will need to explain why you think the two go together. I have one row of habitats, habitat picturesor foods and one row of animal parts animal parts. You will pick up a part and a habitat or food and tell why they go together. Others may ask you questions about your choice. When you are done, you will place your cards back in the center and someone else will have a turn. A card can be used more than once. I will demonstrate first. I pick up a wing and sky and say, the wing helps a bird stay in the sky. They need the wing in order to fly."

I spread out the two rows of cards. They include wings, beaks, claws, fins, tails, teeth of several types on one side and trees, rodents, sky, water, hills, grasslands, fish, on the other side.

I invite one child to pick up two cards and explain his/her thinking. Matching A Bird With Its Habitat I ask for questions from the audience. We continue on for about 10 minutes or until students begin to wiggle and lose interest. 

"Why do you think that animals have different parts?" (to help them survive, eat, protect themselves, move, etc.) 

"Today we are going to think more about those special adaptations. I would like you to return to your seats quietly using your legs, but not your mouths. Think about which part of you helps you get to your seat, and which parts you don't need to use right now."

Creating Our Animals

25 minutes

I have created a set of cards and divided them into sets of 3 for each student. Each set has a mouth (teeth, beak, snout, etc.) , and  a means of moving paws, wings, fins, etc. and a way to breathe or catch prey, (gills, lungs, claws, stingers, etc.)

Before I hand out the cards I say, "today I will be giving you 3 parts of an imaginary animal. You are going to draw your animal including the parts that I give you. This will be an imaginary animal so you are not trying to draw an animal you know. Instead you will be looking at the 3 parts and putting them in your imaginary animal. As you draw be thinking about how your animal gets from place to place, what it might eat based upon the part you have, and how it might breathe or eat. We will be writing about this after we make our drawings. Your drawings should be colorful and clearly show the parts you have on your cards. I am giving you white drawing paper to draw your animal on. Remember that you are making an imaginary animal based on the cards you receive." I check for understanding and then hand out the materials.

As students work I circulate around checking in with students and making sure that they are following directions. Explaining the Parts of the Animal If students are struggling I may suggest that they think of the animal like a cartoon. Think how cartoon animals might have huge feet, or big heads. Can you try to put your animal parts together in a funny, cartoon way? This may help students. I also could invite the child to visit the library and look for cartoon books to give them ideas. 

Writing About Our Animals

15 minutes

Depending on the available time, I may have students do the writing portion of this lesson on a separate day. 

I ring the bell to get everyone's attention. I suggest that before we do the writing that we take 3 minutes to walk around the room and view each other's creatures. I say, "please leave your picture on your desk and take 3 minutes to walk around and see what other animals your classmates have drawn. Leave your 3 cards face up on your desk next to your picture so everyone can see what parts you started with and what your animal looks like." I give the class about 3 minutes to view each other's creations.

When everyone has returned to their seat I say, "I want you to look at the sheet I have up on the Smartboard. animal sheet You will be filling this out about your animals. It says, "My animal eats," so you will need to think about the mouth card you received. What do you think your animal eats and what part of the animal helps you to mke that decision?

Please fill in that section of what your animal eats. I give students time to respond to the first question. When students are mostly done I say. "Now I want you to tell me where your animal lives. What part of your animal helped you decide where your animal might live?"

"The final question is what helps your animal to survive? Again think about which part of your animal might help it to survive?"


10 minutes

I use a turn and talk format to allow students to share their creations and the questions they have answered about them. I say, "you will turn and tell your buddy about your creature and the answers you gave to the questions."

"Partners, you need to be good listeners and you need to be ready to explain why you picked certain features that your partner may want to know about. You will only have about 5 minutes to share the creations that you made and then you will turn and talk to another partner. That way you will have a chance to learn about 2 different creations, other than your own. I will tell you when it is time to switch."

Students turn and talk for 5 minutes. I then ring the bell and they turn to another partner at their table. 

After the second 5 minutes I ring the bell and ask students to stop and listen. "Does anyone want to tell about one of the creatures that was shared with them? I would like you to tell about someone else's animal, and include what it eats, how it survives and how it gets from place to place." I ask them to share someone else's creation to encourage students to really listen to their partners. I also know that certain students like to share all the time and need to be encouraged to think beyond their own work to the work of others.

We share out about 5 or 6 different comments. 

"Now lets look at the I Can Statement. I want you to put a smiley face on your paper if you think you did what the statement says. If you think you did it somewhat, give yourself a straight face, and if you think you didn't really do it, give yourself a frown face. " Students rate their own involvement with the lesson before handing in papers so I can assess their understanding of how certain parts of a body can determine what that body can do.

Literature Extension

45 minutes

The creation of imaginary animals leads to a creative writing lesson. Students now have an imaginary animal that they have created. They know what it eats, how it moves and where it lives. This provides a great background for story writing.

The students can write a fiction story on their own or with partners where their animal is the main character of the story and where the animal lives is the setting. The picture they drew can provide the basis for good description of the main character. 

A story may take 1 - 3 writing blocks to complete depending on the interest level of the students.