The Structures and Functions of Reptiles

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SWBAT identify the different structures and functions of reptiles.

Big Idea

Snakes, lizards, and crocs! OH MY! Did you know reptiles do really cool things that engineers can use to create new stuff? Check out how first graders discover more about reptiles and Biomimicry!

Setting the Stage:

National Science Education Science Standards Connection:

The National Science Education Standards has said that making observations is key to inquiry-based and discovery-focused learning in science instruction. In order to do this students participate in inquiry-based learning that allows them to solve a problem in science through observation, discourse and using a science journal. Students will then be give a chance to share their findings with their peers and then reflect on their own understanding.

Next Generation Science Standards Connection:

In this unit students will learn that organisms have external parts that help them survive in nature and then use that information to help them solve a human problem by mimicking plants and animals. This is called Biomimicry - bio: life, mimicry - to copy. To learn more about Biomimicry check out this Ted Talks.

In this lesson students will learn about the different structures and functions of reptiles.  They will identify that reptiles use camouflage for protection and for hunting. They may also discover that the rattle snakes use their rattle as an alarm system. This lesson will also introduce my students to the idea that engineers can observe and copy things that animals do to create new inventions.

Home to School Connection:

In this unit we will be learning animal and plant parts. Students will learn that organisms have external parts that help them survive in nature. The NGSS standards ask students solve a human problem by mimicking how plants and animals survive.  Each a day a student in class will be able to take home the Organisms Bag. In this bag I have included a recording sheet, crayons and pencils, and the book What if You Had Animal Teeth by Sandra Markle.

Classroom Structures:

In order to support a high level of student discourse within my science lessons I have assigned two different student partnerships.  Turn and Talk Partners are discourse partners that work together to share the deep thinking that happens throughout the day.  Workshop Partners are partners who are matched together for the purpose of working during our independent times.  In this lesson students will be engaged in both partnerships.

Vocabulary Cards:

These are the vocabulary that will be covered in this unit that addresses 1-LS1-1.  You can choose to use these cards in different ways. I like to print all vocabulary words on card stock and hang them on my science bulletin board as a reference tool throughout the unit.  You can also use these cards as flashcards or a concentration matching game.


Anchor Chart - Animal Classifications

Video: Who's a Reptile?

Investigation Worksheet - Reptiles


*Reptile Photographs

*Reptile Figurines

*Reptile Books

Anchor Chart - Structures and Functions - Reptiles

Presentation - Biomimicry and Reptiles

Science Journals:  I just use blank paper in my journals so my students have space and freedom to experiment with graphic organizers, illustrations, etc.

Turtle cut-out

Science Journal Prompt: What are the structures and functions of reptiles?


5 minutes

The NGSS does not require students to know the different classifications of the animal groups so the focus of this lesson is to allow my students to explore animal parts (structures) and functions while introducing them to the different classifications.

I begin this lesson by referring to the anchor chart we created in our previous lesson Animal Classifications.  We read over the characteristics of a reptile.

Boys and girls, today we will be studying reptiles. Do you remember what animals were the reptile group?  Let's take a look at this video: (Start at 52 seconds-7:04)

Do you remember what animals make up the reptile group? You are right! Turtles, snakes, lizards, crocodiles and alligators

When you watched this video did any of notice any structures and functions of these different reptiles? Remember the structure is the animal part and the function what that part is used for.

With your turn and talk partner, please share some of the structures and functions you observed in our video.

My students say:

Snake tongue - smelling

Turtle shell - protection

Sea Turtle's webbed feet - swimming

Great! Today you are going to investigate more structures and functions of reptiles!

Do you think you are ready to give this a go today? Great! Let's get started!


25 minutes

The standard addressed in this unit requires students to make observations and identify functions of structures (animal parts) that help animals survive in nature.  In this lesson my students get to observe and collect data on the animal parts and functions of these parts.

I ask my students to work with their workshop partners for this lesson. I pass out our Investigation Worksheet - Reptiles to each partnership. For this lesson it is alright if my students share the pen. I make a copy of each sheet at the end of the lesson so each child has their own copy in his/her folder.  I ask my students to take a few minutes to fill in the one row of the Investigation Worksheet - organism, the structure and the function.

For this lesson I organize materials into different stations that allow for students to research reptiles.

*Station 1 - Reptile Photographs (All About Animals Photo Library - Lakeshore)

*Station 2 - Books about reptiles

*Station 3 - Reptile figurines

*Station 4 - Ipads - I really love using PebbleGo for their animal database however you need an account for this resource. A free resources available for reptile research is ScienceKids.

Investigation Worksheet

Investigation Worksheet

Investigation Worksheet

Investigation Worksheet

As my students research and fill in their Investigation Worksheet - Reptiles, I walk around and confer with each student naming and noticing the smart thinking happening. Conferring is the process of listening and recording the work the student or students are doing and then compliment the work. As I listen, I research a teaching point and then work to provide clarification through questioning, modeling and re-teaching. I refer back to our question:  What are the structures and functions of different reptiles?


10 minutes

The NGSS asks that students communicate and explain information from observations. In the explain section I want my students to share their observations with their turn and talk partners.  Each partnership will engage in accountable talk agreeing or disagreeing with each others' observation notes.  I want my students sharing their observations and explaining their thinking as well as engaging in high levels of student discourse and reasoning. 

Since my students did not research all of the different reptile groups, I ask them to share our their data to the whole group. One way of doing this is to use chairs labeled Scientist.  Students gladly take the role so scientist to share their findings.

Thank you for meeting me on the carpet with your observations. We can call the work you have in front of you, your data.  Each of you have collected a lot of really good data today.  Now you get to do just what scientists do. You are going to share your data with the whole class. Please be sure to speak loudly and clearly so we all can hear your important words. Let's begin with the children who studied turtles. Which partnership would like to be our first set of scientists to share their data.

As my students share, I record the different reptile parts we observed on our Structures and Functions anchor chart. 


15 minutes

In order to develop a culture that encourages student engagement, curiosity and a desire to understand the world through scientific exploration, I elaborate on our learning by showing my students a slide show with different animal parts and different inventions that have been made by copying each part. After watching the slide show we go back to our anchor chart and record possible human inventions created based the parts we recorded during the Explain section.

Presentation - Biomimicry and Reptiles


10 minutes

The Science and Engineering Practice 4 asks students to analyze data. At the K-2 level this involves students collecting, recording, and sharing observations. In this lesson the students are recording information, thoughts and ideas in their science journals. I send my students back to their science journals and ask them to write the answer to our big question: "What are the structures and functions of reptiles?"

As the students write I tell them to refer back to their research. I am looking for answers that include both illustrations and words that describe the different animal parts and functions we learned about today.