The Teachers!

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SWBAT identify different ways that animals teach their young.

Big Idea

Animals are great teachers! In this lesson my students use different media to research different ways that animals teach their young.

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. They will use different media to find evidence that 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 different ways that animal parents teach their young to survive.  We discuss the parent/baby relationship and the connection between learning and teaching in the animal world.

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


Investigation Worksheet - How do animal parents teach their babies?

Video: Ultimate Moms - Mom's Lessons

Animal Books

Zoo Books

Computers or ipads or both: PebbleGO

Anchor Chart - How do animals take care of their babies?

Video: Animal Babies

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

Journal Prompt:  Tell me 3 ways that animal parents teach their babies


10 minutes

The NGSS standard for this lesson asks that students investigate ways that animal parents and their offspring engage in behaviors that help the offspring to survive. I begin this lesson by activating prior knowledge. In a whole group setting, I ask my students, How do you learn new things? My students say things like:

*You teach us!

*My mom taught me to tie my shoes?

*Mrs. Beitel teaches me to read books and do investigations.

*My dad and mom taught me to ride my bike.

*My sister taught me to climb a tree.

*My brother taught me how to make a Lego castle.

*My dad taught me to bake chocolate chip cookies.

WOW! Boys and girls, you learn so many things from people. How do you think animal babies learn to survive in nature? Someone has to teach them.  Many animals are born with instincts that tell them how to behave without even being taught but some animals have to learn new stuff from their mothers or from other animals in their pack or colony. Today you are going to investigate how and what animal babies learn from their parents.   


35 minutes

The Science and Engineering Practice 8 asks that students obtain, evaluate, and communicate information. This can be done in many ways but one way is through grade level text and/or media.  In this lesson that is exactly what I am asking my students to do.

The NGSS asks that students use media to identify patterns in animal behaviors.  I pass out an Investigation Worksheet to each child and ask my students to observe different ways that animal parents take care of their young.  As my students watch I stop periodically to allow my students to talk and record their new learning on their worksheet.

After the video I ask my students to briefly share their research with their table partners.  Then I send them off to collect more data using classroom books and our ipads (PebbleGo).

Classroom Research: Over the years I have collected a variety of books about baby animals and I have sorted these books into book baskets by animal classifications. A great resources for borrowing these types of books are school libraries and public libraries.They always have TONS of animal books.

Research - Lions

Research - Kangaroos

For this investigation we also use PebbleGo.  It is a great resource for nonfiction text however you will need to pay for and set up an account. 

Research - Using ipads

**The CCSS asks that students know and use various text features (e.g., headings, tables of contents, glossaries, electronic menus, icons) to locate key facts or information in a text.  We use this time to investigate these different text features as well as learn how these tools help readers to collect new and interesting information.  

**Helpful hint: Many times as students are researching the levels of the informational text are complex so I teach my students how to infer information from the illustrations and then attempt to confirm that information by using the captions. 

As my students write 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 ask my students, How does that parent teach its young?  How does the baby respond?  How do you know?  Tell me about your research today?

Video - What animals teach their young?


10 minutes

In this section my students are asked to communicate their research with their Turn and Talk partners.  As they are sharing I listen for high levels of quality discourse as well as rich, deep thinking.  When I bring my students back together, I ask them to sit in along the edge of the carpet for our "Science Circle.  I allow students to learn the art of talking in a large group.  I encourage my students to listen and then respond without raising their hands.  The purpose is encourage students to gain new understanding through rich conversation.

Boys and girls, I love hearing you share your research! Today you have collected some really, really good data!  Sometimes research confirms what we already think and we can pat ourselves on the back, however, other times it completely changes our thinking.  We can say, "I used to think.....but after doing some good research, now I think .....That is exactly what scientists do all the time! Great job scientists! 

Video - A Lion Mother is a Good Mother

Together let's look at your data to help answer this question.  We will record your findings on our anchor chart under: Teach.

Anchor Chart - How do animals take care of their babies?

As my students share in our "Science Circle" I record their answers on our anchor chart.


10 minutes

The NGSS requires students to use media to determine patterns in animal behaviors.  I elaborate on the learning with this great video about animal babies. The first 12 minutes of the video has some information about the different ways that animals teach their young however the whole video has great information about animals and their babies. This video shows the relationship between the mother and baby as well as the patterns in those relationships.

Boys and girls, let's think about the ways that animal parents teach their young? What new information did you find interesting in this video today?

My students say things like:

Birds teach their babies to fly.

Koalas keep their babies close and teach them to climb.

Lions teach their babies to hunt by playing.

Tigers teach their babies to launch an attack.

Tigers teach their babies to defend themselves.


15 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: Tell me 3 ways that animal parents teach their babies.

As my students write I look for answers that briefly explain ways that animal parents teach their young:

*Lions teach their babies to pounce on their food.

*Wolves teach their babies to hunt.

*Humming birds teach their babies to fly.