African Elephant vs. Woolly Mammoth

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Compare and Contrast an African elephant to the woolly mammoth by writing an essay and citing evidence showing at least three similarities and two differences.

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

5 minutes

After completing lessons  and reading several different books about African elephants and the wooly mammoth ,my students had come to the the realization that they do have many similarities, but there are also some distinct differences. We surveyed the class and put it to a vote, as to which, did think was most fascinating. With a show of hands they voted, and then the discussions got really intense, each student thought their reasons were the best.This was the perfect warm up for this lesson.

Guided practice

30 minutes

We had completed a lesson on the wooly mammoth, read books and articles, and watched videos  about this prehistoric creature. We had also completed a lesson on the African elephant, where we read books and articles, and watched videos as well. Now came the time to compare and contrast them. I wanted my students to have as much practice with close reading in a Science setting as possible. I printed out an informational article from IFAW ( International Fund for Animal Welfare), Elephants Never Forget ( p3-4)  first, we read it through, while highlighting the information they felt was important about the African elephant.This source had a lot of information and my students loved the  pictures and illustrations that helped them better understand the information. They then visited Kids National Geographic , where they wrote down important information. The students then completed the Venn Diagram to compare and contrast the two before writing their essays.


30 minutes

The scaffolded support that was provided during this lesson with the use of the Venn Diagram and the review of the rubric , helped my students write a more detailed essay than if I had just asked them to write an essay comparing and contrasting the African elephant to the woolly mammoth. I created a rubric,  African Elephant vs Woolly Mammoth Essay Rubric, which not only served as an assessment, but also as a guide while they were editing their work. They each had a copy to use, which I then stapled to their essay when they turned it in to me for grading. Here are some examples of the completed essays,  African Elephant vs Woolly Mammoth Essay example 1, and Essay Example 2.

Class Discussion/Wrap Up

10 minutes

This lesson took time but it was well worth it. The students completed their essays and for those that wanted to, they could read their favorite part of the essay to the class. I also had the students trade essays in order for students to read at least one essay that was not theirs.