How Do Animals Move?

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SWBAT identify how animals use different body parts (structures) to move and survive in nature.

Big Idea

RUN! JUMP! SLITHER! Let's move like animals and learn how to survive in nature!

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:

The NGSS asks that students understand how structures and functions help animals to survive. In this lesson my students will research different ways that animals move. They will understand that animals have different body parts that help them to move in ways that help them survive.

Home to School Connection:

In this unit we will be learning animal 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 words 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.


Song - Animal Action by Greg and Steve: Kids in Motion

Animal Museum: Elephants, Cheetahs, Lions, Tigers, Chimpanzee, Gorillas, Snakes, Lizards, Frogs, Fish, Whales, Orcas, Dolphins, Sharks, Seals, Penguins, Polar Bears, Birds, Walruses, Moose, Deer, Elk, Mountain Goat, etc.

Investigation Worksheet: Animal Movements

All About Animals - Photo Library -Discontinued

Animals Vocabulary Development Photo Library

Anchor Chart - Animals Move!

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

Science Journal Prompt: Pick an animal. What body parts help that animal move? How does that help your animal survive in nature?


15 minutes

I begin this lesson by referring back to our discussion on animal behaviors and actions.

Boys and girls you learned that an organism is anything that needs food, water and air. You also learned that organisms can move and grow and use their senses.  In our last lesson you observed our Mealworms.  Can you act like a Mealworm? Show me what happened when it came close to the peppermint oil.  You are right! The Mealworm moved about! 

We learned two words: instinctive behaviors and reflexes. Reflexes are behaviors that just happen.  Instinctive behaviors are behaviors that you are born with. Both instinctive behaviors and reflexes help animals to survive in nature.

Today we will explore how different animal behaviors that help them to survive in nature.

I LOVE using song and dance with young children. There is a lot of research that shows that movement gets our minds ready to learn.  It is also said that movement is a possible intervention that can support our students struggling to retain information. I play this song and ask my students to create the different movements.

Greg and Steve - Animal Action

After the video, I ask my students the following questions and together list off different ways that animals move. What did you notice?  How do animals move?














25 minutes

The NGSS asks that students use models as well as obtain and evaluate information from investigations. In this lesson my students will explore how animals move by studying their different body parts.

I have all my students meet me on the carpet to launch our exploration today.  Boys and girls have you ever been to an animal museum. I listen as my students share the different museums they have visited. Today I have turned our classroom into an animal museum. There are a lot of animals out on display and you get to pick 3 animals to study today. Your job is observe the animals different body parts and try to figure out how this animal moves about.  Try to describe more than one way to describe each movement. For example, goldfish can swim, but they can also swish and wiggle. Rattlesnakes crawl but they also glide and slither. Tigers can walk, run, stalk, climb and pounce. Your job is to make a list of a bunch of different movements.  I show my students the Investigation Worksheet - Animal Movements and model how to fill it in.  Then I send my students to travel to different animal stations where they find different animal figurines and toy animals from their homes:

Elephants, Cheetahs, Lions, Tigers, Chimpanzee, Gorillas, Snakes, Lizards, Frogs, Fish, Whales, Orcas, Dolphins, Sharks, Seals, Penguins, Polar Bears, Birds, Walruses, Moose, Deer, Elk, Mountain Goat, etc.

I ask that my students travel in partnerships.  I have enough animals to allow for no more than two children to a station at a time. 

As my students work I walk around and confer with each group 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 take anecdotal notes on my science notes sheet.


10 minutes

The NGSS asks that students communicate information.  I have chosen to have my students communicate what they have learned by playing a game called, "Guess My Animal!"

How to Play the Animal Game

I have all my students sit at their tables.  I pick one child at a time to choose an animal card from a pile and then move like that animal.  After the child moves about the rest of the class can make 3 guesses and if they can't get it then the class must ask the child acting out the movement questions. The NGSS asks that students asks questions in investigations so my students ask questions to gain information to make an educated guess. 

Some of the questions are:

Does it have flexible toes?

Does it have webbed feet for swimming?

Does it have wings for flying?

Does it have claws for digging?

Does it have fins for swimming?

Does it have long back legs for jumping?

Does it have to slither?

The Animal Game - Sea Turtle

After each turn, I stop the class to record their responses on our "Animals Move" anchor chart.

*Body part (Structure) *Function (How does it work) *Survival - How does it help this animal survive?


10 minutes

The ELA Common Core Standards ask that students compare and contrast the adventures and experiences of characters in stories.  Students will compare and contrast the different animal movements used throughout the story as well as how each character used these movements to try and win a race.

The Montana Office of Public Instruction asks that teachers in Montana integrate quality Indian Education for All content with rigorous, standards based instruction in all curricular areas. One of the IEFA Essential Understanding States:

There is great diversity among individual American Indians as identity is developed, defined and redefined by entities, organizations and people. A continuum of Indian identity, unique to each individual, ranges from assimilated to traditional. There is no generic American Indian.

I have all my students sit in a large circle and I place a fake camp fire (red and yellow construction paper) and place it in the middle of our circle.  There is a video of this story online however I like to read it as if I were telling the story in order to follow the oral traditions of the Cheyenne. 

Race with Buffalo: A story of the Cheyenne of the Great Plains

After the story, we sit in a circle and talk about all the animal movements in this story.  We talk about the different characters and then I ask my students, Why do think the people asked the Bird People to run the race for them and not another animal? They all said that the people could not run and birds are fast.  I then ask, Why? My students share a lot of different answers:

Birds can fly fast.

People run slower than birds.

People only have two legs so they can't run as fast as animals because they have four legs.

Birds are the fastest animals because they can fly.

I then ask, If you were going to run a race with animals, what animal would you want to be? Why? My students share their thinking with their turn and talk partners.


5 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: "Pick an animal. What body parts help that animal move? How does that help your animal survive in nature?"

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 how movement is a useful tool that helps animals to survive in nature.