Animal Chatter!

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SWBAT identify different ways that animals communicate with each other.

Big Idea

Did you say animal chatter? In this lesson students explore different ways that animals communicate and why!

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 will explore different communicative behaviors among animals.

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: Bark George

 Video: Secrets of Animal Communication

Computers: PebbleGO

Word: Investigation Worksheet - How do animals communicate?




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: How do animals communicate?


10 minutes

In order to activate prior knowledge I begin with this question: What does it mean to communicate?

My students share things like:


*Talking on the phone






This conversation leads me right into our question for this lesson: Do animals communicate with each other? My students think for a minute and then say, "YES!" My next question is: How? What do they do?

This leads me right into our read aloud.  High quality read-alouds allow children to be actively involved in asking and answering questions as well as making predictions.  There is a lot of research that states interactive read-alouds help students make gains in vocabulary development and comprehension. In these interactive read-alouds my students do more than just talk. They are asked to analyze information, make predictions, share inferences, as well as ask questions.

Throughout this story I stop and ask questions like:

*What will he do next?

*Does this remind  you anything?

*Why does he "Meow?" What are you inferring? 

*Do you think animals do the same thing in nature? Why? Why not?

*What does that tell you about this book?

Now that my students are ready to investigate this question I end with: Well, you are right! Animals don't talk!  So, what are you wondering?  My students say, "How do they communicate?"


35 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. We watch between 8:30 -19:50 minutes.  As my students watch, I stop periodically and ask my students to have conversations about the video.  We focus in on the different ways that animals communicate.

Boys and girls, let's think about the ways that animals communicate. What did you notice?

My students say things like:

*Hippos show their teeth as a warning.

*Horses ears will tell you when they are curious or scared.

*Poison Dart Frogs use the color to say go away.

I pass out an Investigation Worksheet - How do animals communicate? to each child and ask my students to research ways that animals communicate.  I have our computers for my students to use for research. 

Computer: PebbleGO

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 animals communicate?  Why do they communicate?  Tell me about your research today? What are you noticing?  What are inferring? 


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. As they are sharing I listen for high levels of quality discourse as well as rich, deep thinking.  As my students share, I record their answers on our anchor chart.

Boys and girls, thank you for bringing your research with you to the carpet.  You have worked so hard and 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! Will you please share what you discovered with your partner today?  If you learn something new from your partner, you may want to record that on your worksheet. 

After my students share their Investigation Worksheets I ask this question,  "Why do parents need to teach their babies to communicate?"

My students share things like:

*It helps them find food.

*It helps them talk to each other.

I show this brief video to help them answer this question: Video - Elephants Communicate While at Play (3:54)

We continue our discussion and I end by saying, "It is so important for animal parents to teach communication because it helps animals work together just like us."


10 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. 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 have discussions that allow students to refer back to the book to help deepen their knowledge.

I read the book: How Animals Work by DK Publishing : Page 130-141

 As I read, I stop often asking my students questions like:

*What do you notice?

*How does this help us answer our question from today?

*Does this remind you of anything in your life?

*How does communication help animals survive?


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: How do animals communicate?

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

*Elephants rub their trunks together.

*Birds chirp tell predators to go away.

*Birds sing when they are happy.