African Elephants Adaptations Help Them Survive

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Identify at least three adaptations of the African Elephant that helps it survive in its habitat.

Big Idea

A combination of behaviors and structures, instead of any single characteristic, enables an animal to survive in a particular habitat.


1 minutes

Warm up

15 minutes

I wanted to give my students some background on elephants, because when we started discussing them, I realized that they really didn't know much at all. They had quite a few misconceptions, such as, some of them thought that elephants were always violent, or that they traveled in pairs and there was only one type of elephant. I decided to show a movie from IFAW ( International Fund For Animal Welfare), Elephants Never ForgetI will usually only show video clips to enhance a lesson, however, though this movie is eighteen minutes long, it is worth every minute. I showed the first fifteen minutes which focused on elephants in general, with an emphasis on the African Elephant, and then the last 3 minutes during my lesson on the Asian Elephant. The movie is a wonderful overview of elephants and explains why and how their numbers are dwindling. 

Guided practice

15 minutes

There is a lot of content vocabulary that is new to my students, that is why I created a PowerPoint, African Elephants Introduction, to help reach the different learning styles in my classroom and help convey this content in a way they could relate to. During the lesson, we were concentrating on the adaptations that are readily apparent on the African Elephant. They were amazed that they travel in herds and that the female is essential to the herd's survival. Though we discussed their ears, feet, and trunk, my students were fascinated with the African elephant's ears. I had included a thermal picture of an African elephant in order for them to get a better understanding of how the ears are so much cooler than the rest of the body.


30 minutes

I used National Geographic Kids and the trunk information found on the page, as the anchor for this lesson. I use a free chrome extension, EVERNOTE clearly, which allows me to focus on the content  and we can highlight and annotate, giving my students another opportunity to work closely with the text. I created an African Elephant Focus Page, where they were able to use the information they learned to complete the page by drawing, as well as labeling the adaptations. The students also explained how each adaptation helps the African elephant survive in its environment. I think that by using the focus page as their guide they were better able to understand the important significance of  each adaptation. 

Class Discussion/Wrap Up

10 minutes

For our wrap up discussion I used a modified round table format as my Exit Ticket African Elephant Adaptations. I asked the question, "What adaptations helps the African Elephant survive? Explain your answer and give examples." As an exit ticket, I like to use  what I call the "1-1-1" format.  I gave each group of 4 , One pencil, one page ( with the question on it),  and one minute per student, to add to or contribute information that would help answer that question. I collected the pages and then I had the groups share with the class. This type of exit ticket gives me a clearer picture as to whether I need to revisit any content before we continue in this unit.