Squirrels, Bats, and Humans, Oh, My!
Lesson 4 of 11
Objective: SWBAT compare the features and basic needs of three types of mammals, including humans.
*This lesson could be completed over two days if necessary!*
During this lesson, we compare two mammals we already know from this lesson to humans using mammal features to build the student's understanding of the different animal classes and also focusing on basic needs. This targets Essential Standard 1.L.1.1 (Recognizing that animals needs air, water, space, food, and shelter) and 1.L.2.1 (Summarize the basic needs of a variety of animals including air, water, and food). Students are also researching and collecting information about the mammals, then communicating the information, which supports Science and Engineering Practice 8.
I framed this unit around the 6 animal classes to provide a structure for students to organize the new information about basic needs and features. Please click here for the first lesson in this unit that teaches students the 6 animal classes.
For each lesson, I post both the lesson objective from the Essential Standards and a guiding question. Listen to my explanation of why I teach the Essential Standards for science. This is to help students to understand the purpose behind the lesson and to connect to prior knowledge. I have found it helpful because it also keeps my focus on the objectives for the day. When I first introduce the day's activities to the students, I will write at the top of the board, 'How are humans, squirrels, and bats alike?'
Fact sheets from the previous lesson
1 blank Fact Sheet per student (We have glued our Fact Sheets into our science journals to keep them safe!)
1 piece of 11" x 18" white construction paper per student, plus some extras
Several copies of bats and squirrels, either printed photographs or outlines would work (Some examples in 'Resource' Section)
Access to different colored construction paper (scraps will do fine)
Scissors, glue, crayons/markers/colored pencils
Baby picture of each student (I copied the originals and send those back home so the students can add the copy to their work today).
Sitting knee to knee with a partner on the carpet, I ask students to quickly use their Fact Sheets from yesterday to tell their partner 3 interesting things about bats or squirrels. After about 1 minute, I stop them and say,
"I have an important question for you today! If all living organisms are classified as either plant or animal, and humans are not plants, then what are we?!?"
Of course, this will get them pretty excited! Watch as we talk about Mammals in our house! I say,
"Today, we are going to discover how you are just like the bats and squirrels that we have been learning about! On your Fact Sheet for today, write "Humans" at the top. "Humans" means people, like you and me!"
Then I show this video about mammals. It has a quick scene where a mammal is drinking its mother's milk and the vocabulary is advanced, but it reiterates that mammals have hair (even humpback whales!) and drink their mother's milk.
After the video, I say,
"Did you see all of the different examples of mammals? Remember, to be a mammal, an animal must have hair and drink its mother's milk - did you know that humpback whales are mammals? How about elephants having hair?! Now, let's work on our Fact Sheet about humans - this should be pretty easy since we know a lot of them!"
Since my students are already familiar with the format of the Fact Sheets, I say,
"Now, turn to a partner and as I read the Fact Sheet, you discuss what you think the answer is and write it on your paper with your partner. Then we'll check them as a whole group".
I read down the Fact Sheet slowly and give the students about 30 seconds each time to talk to their partner and write their answers. Afterwards, I say,
"We are going to do a little more research before we check our Fact Sheets. If you hear or see something today that makes you change your mind about your answers, you can change your Fact Sheet. Okay?"
This encourages students to evaluate the answers that they wrote with their partner and it builds onto their existing knowledge of humans.
Here is some of my student's work on their Fact Sheets:
I love how they 'checked' their page!
Once we have completed the Fact Sheet based on our own knowledge and experiences, we move into the comparison part of the lesson. Students use a large 11" x 18" piece of white construction paper and I show them how to fold it into vertical thirds. Then, we label 'Squirrels', 'Bats', and 'Humans' at the top. I say,
"For each mammal, we are going to draw or create a different scene that shows how the mammal's basic needs are met. We may need to do some labeling and add captions to fully explain what makes each animal a mammal. Let's start with the squirrel. What are the basic needs of a squirrel?"
As the students answer, I write 'food', 'water', 'air', 'space', and 'shelter' on the board. Then I say,
"How can we show that a squirrel needs all of these things? Where might we find a squirrel that has food, water, air, space, and shelter?"
I want to lead students to the idea of showing each mammal in its home or habitat, but not exclusively so, because a squirrel could also be shown near a puddle or pond getting water, or a tree getting acorns, etc. The goal of this activity is not that each picture is exactly the same because I want students to be able to use each other's work to instigate conversation.
After I take a few ideas, I say,
"Using colored pencils, crayons, or construction paper and glue, either draw or cut out a picture of where a squirrel could satisfy its basic needs. I have some squirrels already printed that you can add to your picture if you don't want to draw your own. If you need a little bit of help or you want to check with me first, I'll come around and you can ask. You have about 10 minutes to make just the squirrel picture".
As students work, I walk around and ask them about the basic needs that they are going to include in their work. I might say, "How is your squirrel getting water?" or "Where does this squirrel's food come from?"
After about 9 minutes, I give a "1 minute to finish" warning and then at 10 minutes I ask students to leave their work at their desk and come to the carpet. I often call them physically away from their work because otherwise their focus stays on the project and they may not hear the rest of the directions!
"Now you can make a picture about bats and their basic needs. What are the basic needs of a bat to live? Where might you find a bat satisfying its basic needs?"
We have a very short conversation about this and then I say,
"Remember to use your Fact Sheet to use accurate information about bats. I have pictures ready for you of bats. Take about 10 minutes and make a picture of a bat satisfying its basic needs. Be ready to tell me where it is getting its water, food, air, shelter, and space when I come around!"
Again, as students work I walk around and have conversations with students about the choices they are making with their pictures. At 9 minutes, I give a "1 minute to finish warning" and at 10 minutes I call them to the carpet again. I say,
"I really like the way you are adding so many details to your work! I saw some people using labels and some people adding a caption at the bottom so I knew exactly what was happening in the picture! Great work! Now, the last picture should be super easy! Draw or make a picture of humans satisfying their basic needs. Instead of having a printed picture of humans for you, guess what I have?!? Remember when you brought in your baby photograph? You can add them to your work today! Now, what are the basic needs of humans you should include in your picture?"
I am purposefully asking each time about the basic needs, because I want to over-emphasize that the basic needs are all the same. I give each student their photograph to add to their work. As students work this time, I begin to ask comparison questions like "Look! Your bat and you squirrel both have food. How is your human like that?" and "Can you tell me how your squirrel and your human are similar?"
At 9 minutes, I give the "1 minute to finish" warning and at 10 minutes I ask students to clean up their area and leave just their work on their desk, then come to the carpet. As students make their way, I start to sing the 6 Animal Classes Song.
Take a look at our work:
To end this lesson and the section of my unit on mammals, I have a 3 Circle Venn Diagram ready for the students, labeled with 'squirrels', 'bats', and 'humans'. Once everyone is settled on the carpet, I say,
"Now, how can we compare squirrels, bats, and humans? Raise your hand if you know something specific to one animal or about 2 of them, or about all 3 of them!"
The point of the Venn Diagram is to get students to communicate about what they have learned which supports Science and Engineering Practice 8, and also to have a record of the basic needs being the same, which will show up in the middle of the diagram. As we go along, I make sure that the students realize that the basic needs were the same for each mammal even though they may satisfy them in different ways. I leave the Venn Diagram up in my classroom to allow students to reference it during the rest of the unit, and to refer back to when we talk about the differences between other animal classes and mammals. I also display the student's pictures on the bulletin board to establish pride and ownership in their work and also as a visual reminder of the 3 mammals we studied.
After the conversation and our Venn Diagram is complete, I say,
"We have learned so much about mammals, and now we know that we are mammals ourselves! Tomorrow we will learn about a different animal class that we certainly do not belong to! I wonder if you can guess which one it will be?"
This gets students thinking again about the 6 animal classes and gets them excited about tomorrow's lesson!