Who's Your Animal Parent?

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SWBAT match animal parents to their offspring and explore their similarities.

Big Idea

Do all animal babies look like their parents? Let's explore animal babies and find out the answer to this scientific question!

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 my students learn that about heredity within animal families. They use different media to find evidence that animal babies are similar to their parents.  Through exploration my students will discover that animals can have babies and in many kinds of animals, parents and the offspring themselves engage in behaviors that help the offspring to survive.

In this lesson students explore animal parents and animal babies through a matching game.  In this lesson students explore ways that animals are similar but not exactly like their parents.

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 cards include the vocabulary that covers standards LS1-2 and LS3-1. 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.

Vocabulary - Animal Families



Book: Are You My Mother by PD Eastman

Anchor Chart - Power Words

Animal Figurines - Farm animalsForest Animals, Wild AnimalsOcean Animals, World Animals, Dinosaur Collection

Concentration game: Mommy and Baby Animals - Matching Cards, Other matching cards

Computers: FOSS Web Game

Science Journal - 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. How is it similar to its parents?


15 minutes

The Common Core Standards for English Language Arts asks that students ask and answer questions about key details in a text as well as explain major differences between books that tell stories and books that give information, drawing on a wide reading of a range of text types. During and after our read aloud we have discussions that allow my students to learn from both illustrations and words. We pull out information that is factual and information that is made up by the author. In our discussion we refer back to the book to help answer questions about its key details and the author's message.

I read the book: Are you My Mother?  By PD Eastman

I ask my students questions like:

*How do you know that animal is not that baby's mother?

*What should this baby's mother look like?

*Is this book fiction or nonfiction? How do you know?

*Is there any information in this book that is factual?


25 minutes

The standard addressed in this unit requires students to make observations and identify similarities between animals and their offspring.  I ask my student's this following inquiry question to investigate:  Do all animal babies look exactly like their parents?

For this exploration I have collected various photographs and animal figurines to help answer this question. I divide my students into three different groups and partner my students within those groups.  I make sure I have enough materials for all of my students to work in partnerships at each station.  My students work for about 5-10 minutes at each station.

Station 1: Animal Concentration

Matching Animals - Cards

Matching Animals Cards

Station 2: Animal Figurines

Matching Animal figurines

Matching Animal Figurines

Matching Animal Figurines

Station 3: Computer Game: FOSS Web: Animals Two by Two

Are you ready to get started?  I show my students my anchor chart on academic vocabulary: Power Words. You will be observing photographs and/or animal figurines of different animal mothers and animal babies. Remember, you are now in the science lab so please treat these things just like a scientist would. As you visit the different stations, you will need to use your science tools: seeing, touching, listening. Be sure to closely observing the animals and work to match the animal parent with the baby. This may get a little tricky so you will have to work with your partner and do some good scientific guesses based on your observations. 

*NOTE: This standard does not include inheritance or animals that undergo metamorphosis or hybrids however I have included tadpoles, beetles and caterpillars because of my students have had earlier experiences with these organisms. 

As my students observe animal parents and their offspring, 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:  Do all animal babies look exactly like their parents?


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.  I want my students sharing their observations and explaining their thinking as well as engaging in high levels of student discourse and reasoning. 

Thank you for meeting me on the carpet. Do all animal babies look exactly like their parents?  What did you see when you looked at the elephant parent and its baby? What did you observe when you looked at the baby lion, the baby cheetah and the baby lynx? How did you know which animal baby went with which parent? What differences did you notice today?  Please try to answer these questions with your turn and talk partner. 

I bring them back together have a discussion: Do all animal babies look exactly like their parents?

*My students come to this conclusion:  Just like us, animal babies are similar but do not look exactly like their adult parents.  Some differences are size, fur, size of the nose, etc.


10 minutes

The Common Core English Language Arts Standards asks our students to ask and answer questions about key details in a text. I use the book Animal Babies By Harry McNaught and ask my students to use the text to answer questions and make observations about the animal parents and their offspring. Together we compare similarities and differences as well as look for patterns within nature. I find that my students are familiar with the words baby and parent so using this book I am able to introduce the words adult and offspring. 


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: Pick an animal. How is it similar to its parents?

This activity allows students to explore animal babies and animal parents.  Answers may be as simple as just matching animals in their journals with a few labels.

Science Journal - In this example this child has labeled many of the different common parts that the animal parent and baby share.