Fast, Faster, Fastest-Comparing Animal Speeds

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Students will compare the speeds of different animals by completing a card sort.

Big Idea

Students will have fun connecting to the different animals in this introductory lesson on speed.


10 minutes

Materials Needed for This Lesson:

You will need the book Fast, Faster, Fastest-Animals that Move at Great Speeds by Michael Dahl.  It is available from Amazon.  The book will be used in the next section of the lesson.  You will also need the Fast, Faster, Fastest Animal Pictures Cards cards included as a PDF.  I print one set of cards for each table group of students in my class. I laminate the cards for durability.

I say to the students, We know that there are all different kinds of animals and some move very fast and others move slowly.  In front of you are some pictures of different animals.  I want you to work as a group and put the animals in order by how fast they move.  I want you to put the animal that you think is the slowest at one end and the animals that is the fastest at the other end.  I then want you to put the other animals in order according to speed.

The students begin sorting that animals and I circulate between the groups to observe their thinking/work.  See Video Clip.  It is interesting to note their ideas and misconceptions about the different animals.  Of course, many of the students think the cheetah is the fastest and they often put the flying animals as being slower than the running or hopping animals. 

After the students are done sorting and organizing the animals, I tell them to leave the animals in order for the next part of the lesson. 


15 minutes

For this part of the lesson, you will need to book, Fast, Faster Fastest-Animals that Move at Great Speeds as noted in the previous section, this book is available from Amazon.  I gather the students together and I say to them, We are now going to read a story to help us know which animals move the fastest.  It is called, Fast, Faster, Fastest-Animals that Move at Great Speeds.  The author is Michael Dahl and the illustrator or person that drew the pictures for the book.  This book is going to give us facts about how fast animals move, so is it a fiction, or non-fiction story?  That's right, it is a non-fiction story.  As I read the story, I want you to see if you got your animals in the correct order.  Do not move the cards, but look at them to see if you placed them in the correct order.

I begin reading the story to the students, we stop after each animals and the students check to see if they had the correct animal placed in order. 

After I am done reading the story, I ask the students a few questions:

Did you have the animals placed in the correct order?  What animals did you have correct?

What do you notice about the fastest animals? (They all fly)

After we are done with our discussion, I invite the students to put the pictures into the correct order.  I assist them as needed by referring to the book.  It is important for the students to have the visual comparison of the animals and to have the opportunity to summarize the information that was presented through the story. 


10 minutes

Materials Needed:  You will need copies of the Fast Faster Fastest Activity Sheet included with this lesson. The students will also need scissors and glue sticks.

Now it's time to have the students practice summarizing data by completing a simple cut and paste activity.  Interpreting and summarizing data are important scientific skills for the students to become familiar with.  They will be engaged in these activities throughout their work in science.  Even those, this interpretation and summary are very basic, it helps the students understand the important of these skills as scientists.

I distribute the activity sheet to the students and I have them write their name at the top of the paper.  I say to the students, Our book, Fast, Faster, Fastest gave us good information about the speeds of animals.  One thing that I scientist often has to do is summarize data or information.  We are going to summarize the information from the book.  You are going to cut out the animals and put them in order from fast to fastest.  You will notice that we do not have pictures of every animal.  We just have pictures of four animals.  We are summarizing the information to show how four of the animals compare.  You will be able to take this sheet home and explain to your parents the speeds of the animals. 

I show the students which direction to glue the animals on the sheet so the fastest is on the right side of the sheet.  The students begin cutting out their animals.  See Video Clip 2.  I remind them to place the animals on their sheet and then raise their hand for me to check their work before they glue the animals down.  I circulate around the room to assist the students and observe their work.  



5 minutes

When the students are done, we come together as a class, I have the students practice saying some comparative sentences that support their data summaries and also helps build the skills of my English Language Learners.  The students fill in the blanks as I say,  A kangaroo is fast, but a ________ is faster.  A zebra is fast, but a ________ is even faster.   A ______ is the fastest of all. 

The pictures of the animals that the students used during the lesson are taped up on our board in the front of the room, in order from slowest to fastest.  This allows us to refer to them at other times and the students have used the animals in their writing as well.