Iguanas can live high in the rainforest trees. They can climb straight up the side of a trunk and jump far from one branch on a tree to another. How do they climb so high? What parts of their body are adapted for climbing? Can you do this? Why not?
Has anyone ever seen a python? What does the python do to its food before it eats it? Is there anything we squeeze in order to eat it? (Fresh squeezed orange juice)
Anyone ever see an alligator? Did you know that they eat mostly fish? What do they use to catch fish? Can you catch fish with your mouth? What do you use to catch fish?
Ever heard of a chameleon? They cannot run very fast. How do they hide from predators? What can you do to blend in with your surroundings?
We talked about the different kinds of animals and they adapt to their environments, but how do we adapt to ours? Has anyone ever lived in a warm place and then moved to a cold place or lived in a cold place and moved to a warm place? What did you have to do differently? What if you were told that you were going to go and live in the jungle, but you weren’t going to live in a house? You have to live with one of the four animals listed.
Split up into small groups.
You are going to have to make some changes. Research the animal you must live with. Describe what you will need to do in order to adapt to the group to survive. What food will you eat, how will you protect yourself, and where will you live?
- Have groups discuss with the class what they found.
- Then ask class these questions.
- Did you have to move to a different climate?
- What was different about the animals environment than your own?
- Were there things that were the same?
- Did you learn anything new about the animal you researched?
By – Shannon Koschik
Primary Subject – Science
Grade Level – 5
Discuss classification with students in regards to Math. Ask students what we mean by classification and why we classify things. For example, we classify things in groups to make it easier for us to count and remember.
Explain that we classify objects to make them easy to find, identify, talk about, and study.
Explain to students that today we use a system that was developed by the Carolus Linnaeus. Linnaeus wanted to separate animals and plants according to physical similarities. Explain that Linnaeus’s system classified plants and animals on seven levels, using Latin and Greek words.
Help the students along with a few examples of how exactly you would classify an animal. For example:
Human (Homo sapiens)
Tell students that we refer to what they classified using just two names — the genus and species names. Therefore, the scientific name for a human is “Homo sapiens.” Explain that because just two names are used, the system is known as the binomial (two names) system of nomenclature (naming).
Have students, using their text book; classify common animals using Linnaeus’s system. Instruct each student to list on the chalkboard three or four scientific names he or she has found and the common names of the animals they identify.
Divide your class into groups and have them devise their own system of classifying everyday objects around the room. Students should use at least four levels of classification, but they may use as many more levels as they find necessary. They should end up with a two-part name for each of several objects in the room. Advise students to use Linnaeus’s system as a model, starting out with one classification level that divides all the objects in the room into two major categories. For example, the two “phyla” could be “natural” (made of natural materials) and “artificial” (made of artificial materials); or “useful” and “decorative.” The two major categories combined should include all objects in the room, and the final “genus” and “species” names should exclude all objects but the one being identified. (Students may use descriptive phrases rather than single words, and, of course, they should not be required to use Greek or Latin terms.)
The Blind Naturalist
Grade Levels: K-5
Naturalists use all their senses to explore the natural world. This activity encourages students to describe objects using their sense of touch. Discuss how a scientist may use their different senses to learn things about the natural world.
For example many ornithologists,bird researchers, study bird songs to learn more about the animals. Botanists use their sense of smell to learn more about the plants they are studying. Ask students for more examples.
cardboard boxes with hand sized hole cut in one side
various natural objects that are interesting to touch
(snake shed, pine cone, skull, feathers, fur, large seed pods, turtle shell are a few examples)
Place a different object in each one of the boxes. Make sure the boxes are closed and the hole is located on the side of the box. Sometimes it is a good idea to tape a piece of paper on the top of the box to discourage students from looking into the box through the hole cut in the side. Write a number on each of the boxes so the students may reference them on their paper.
Each student takes turns touching the objects in the boxes. No talking, peeking, or showing each other what they had written!
They then write down a description of each object. Was it rough, smooth, hard, soft, big, small, bumpy? Encourage the children to be as detailed as possible. Have the children guess what is in each of the boxes. To add time to the activity, ask each student to try and draw what is in the boxes by feel alone.
Have a class discussion about their experiences. Have the students share their descriptions of the objects. What did they learn about each object by touching it?
Reveal each of the objects. Were any of the students correct? How did seeing the object compare to how it felt? What would the benefits be for a scientist to use all his senses when learning about something?
Learn about creature camouflage and color an animal to match its surroundings.
Many animals use camouflage in order to blend in to their surroundings. The animals can hide from predators (animals that want to eat them) and hide from prey (animals they want to eat for dinner!) The animals are the same color as their surroundings.
If the animal lives in the desert, they are probably a brown color that matches the color of the sand. Animals that live in trees may be green or brown to match with the bark of the trees or the leaves on them.
Can you think of some animals that can blend in really well? A good example is a box turtle. They have a dark shell with an orange pattern on it. This helps the box turtle hide in the leaves that had fallen from trees in the fall. Show students pictures of animals blending in with their surroundings.
Chameleon picture– one for each student
Photos of habitats – one for each student (search for images on the internet to print or use these five .pdf pictures)
crayons or markers
Give each student a habitat picture and chameleon coloring page.
Instruct the students to color the chameleon so that it will blend in with the habitat picture they have. (You may want to help younger children identify and choose crayon colors to match those in the habitat picture.)
After the students have finished coloring the chameleons. Cut out the chameleon and glue or tape it to the habitat picture.
Hang up on the wall for everyone to admire!
- Poster Paper (You can get sheets of different colors, dark colors are best)
- Collage materials including scraps of colored paper, pictures from magazines (Reptile magazines may be found at large bookstores and pet stores), website picture printouts, colored copies from books, fun colored shapes may be found in scrapbook sections of art stores.
- Glue, or glue stick
- Small popsicle sticks
Pour a small amount of glue onto a square of aluminium foil. Children use the popsicle sticks to smear glue on the backs of the pictures and scraps.
Start by gluing pictures of habitat on the poster board. Pictures may be found in travel magazines. You can even have different environments on the same poster by gluing all desert pictures in one area, forests in another, ect.
Have fun cutting out pictures of reptiles and gluing them to the poster. Pre-cut shapes of colored construction paper adds extra fun to the project. For an added challenge, children can try and guess or research where each reptile lives and placing it in the proper habitat on the collage.
Weave a Food Web
Subject – Science, Art
Grade Level – 4-6
Skills Used: Predicting; Collecting, Recording, and Interpreting Data; Identifying and Controlling Variables; Defining Operationally
Key Vocabulary: Food Chain, Food Web
Lesson Time: 30 minutes
Conceptual Objective: Students will understand that food chains overlap to form a web of multiple energy paths.
Process Objective: Students will create a model of a food web.
- construction paper
- bulletin boards
- Introduce and explain the terms ‘food chain’ and ‘food web’ to students.
- View, explain, and answer questions about an example food web.
- Pass out handouts and explain how the information is set up on the chart.
- Put children into groups of five, giving each group the necessary supplies.
- Instruct children to draw and label all of the different woodland organisms listed. Also draw a picture of the sun. Cut out drawings and attach them to bulletin boards with pushpins. Leave space between the drawings.
- Students should tape one end of the piece of string to any one of the drawings. Using the table, connect the other end of the string to the proper organism.
- Students should draw and cut out an arrow, taping it on the string to indicate in which direction the energy is flowing.
- Students should repeat these steps to connect all of the organisms.
- Announce clean-up time, and display finished food webs around the room.
What is the food chain? Energy flows through an ecosystem as one animal eats another animal or plant. A food chain shows “who eats who” in an ecosystem. For example: An owl – eats a mouse who – eats a beetle who – eats leaves. Each part of the food chain has a name:Plants make (produce) their own food using water, sunlight and carbon dioxide (photosynthesis). Plant start the food chain. There are more plants than any other living thing because they are the bottom of the food chain. They provide the energy for everything else. They are the PRODUCERS.The animals (insects, mice, chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits, deer) that mostly eat plants are called the herbivores. There are fewer herbivores than there are plants because each herbivore needs a lot of plant matter to live. Herbivores feed directly on the producers. They are the PRIMARY CONSUMERS.Animals (spiders, birds, snakes) who eat the primary consumers (herbivores) are the SECONDARY CONSUMERS. There are fewer secondary consumers than there are primary consumers because each secondary consumers needs to eat a lot of primary consumers to live.Animals (fox, coyotes, eagles, owls) who eat the 1st & 2nd consumers are carnivores (they eat meat). They are the TERTIARY CONSUMERS. There are fewer tertiary consumers than there are secondary consumers because each tertiary consumers needs to eat a lot of secondary consumers to live. Because there are fewer animals as you move up the food chain, it is really a food pyramid with the big carnivores needing to eat the most and so being the rarest of the animal kingdom.
Because animals eat so many things, the food chain has many overlapping parts, so is really a FOOD WEB.
Last but not least, the DECOMPOSERS eat and so recycle dead animals and plants (mushrooms, fungi, insects, bacteria). They are then consumed themselves by other parts of the food web so nothing is wasted.
Something to think about:
- In a food web, if an important animal is taken out, and there are no other animals to take its place, it can affect all the other animals in the food web. This animal is called a KEYSTONE SPECIES.
An example of this is the American alligator. Thirty years ago it was hunted so much in the everglades that it all but disappeared. What people didn’t realize was that the American alligator’s main food is the gar, a big everglade fish. The gar in turn eats a lot of the same fish people like (referred to as game fish).
When the American alligator disappeared, the gar (with no other predator) became very plentiful. All the extra gar ate all the game fish. Suddenly fisherman noticed that all the game fish had disappeared and there were gar everywhere.
The food web was out of balance. Once the American alligator was protected from hunting, its numbers rose quickly. In turn the number of gar decreased. Soon the game fish returned. The balance was restored.
Did students make and use a model that allowed them to make inferences about food chains? Assess the neatness and the accuracy of the food webs.
Students may argue about who will do what in the group. If this happens, the teacher should assign roles to students.
Children will make different reptiles with art materials. They will learn about environments that a variety of reptiles live in. Then they will create a diorama of the proper environment for their particular reptile.
- Small round stones such as river rocks for each child
- Construction paper
- Plastic wiggly eyes (found in craft stores)
- Shoebox for each child
For younger children you may start off with a story book about reptiles. A good one is “The Yucky Reptile Alphabet Book” by Jerry Pallotta. You will also need a few books about many different reptiles such as “More Reptiles Up Close” by David M. Nieves or “Eyewitness: Reptile” by Colin McCarthy. Any book at the children’s reading level that covers a large variety of different reptiles and their natural habitat will do.
You may let the children decide on a reptile included in the books, or you may assign each a reptile. Lizards and turtles make the best reptiles for this exercise (snakes are not as easy to make out of rocks.) Just make sure that you have habitat information on the reptiles chosen. If you do not have access to books, you may also print out information found on Reptiles Alive Animal Album
Click on a picture and detailed information about each animal will be displayed.
With art materials each child will make their chosen reptile out of a rock.
How to make rock reptiles:
Cut out long rectangles or ovals with construction paper to use as legs. Legs are glued on the underside of the rock. Heads can be made with a triangle. Glue the very edge of the longest side of the triangle to the top edge of the rock. Tails may be made with really a long triangle glued like the head on the other side of the rock.
The rock reptiles may be decorated with paints, crayons, and markers. Eyes may be drawn on the heads with a marker or paints if you do not have googlie eyes.
Children must now find out what kind of habitat their rock reptile lives in. This could be the rainforest, wood forest, field, swamp, desert, or even the ocean. You may discuss particulars the particulars of each type of habitat with the class. A short guide to get you started on habitat discussion.
Some questions to ask for each habitat are:
Where do reptiles go when it gets to cold for them?
Where do they go to warm up?
Where can they hide?
Lots of huge trees, leaves do not change color, so many they block out the sun
Very wet, hot, and humid
Not many plants growing on the ground
Many different trees of different ages, leaves and seasons change
Lots of possible ground cover
Small meadows, streams
Not as wet or humid as the rainforest
Lots of grasses, flowers, very few trees, possibly farmland
May be ponds or streams
Could it be windy here?
Change in seasons
Ground is covered in water and mud everywhere
Trees, vines and plants grow out of the water
Very hot and humid
Hot during the day and cold at night
Very little water, humidity, and rain
Could have plants like cacti, and tufts of grass or scraggly trees
Or could mostly be sand and rocks
Rocks and plants in the water
Very large place
Can reptiles live where the water is cold?
Only sea turtles and sea snakes live in the ocean
They must come to the surface to breathe
Now the children are ready to make a habitat for their rock reptile. Find out from the books where their species lives. Now decorate a shoebox as the animal’s habitat. Get creative with construction paper, paints or anything else.
Have the children keep in mind what actually exists in their habitat. Deserts don’t have a ton of trees and water, but swamps do.
They may even have fun thinking about the reptile’s needs. Do they need a rock to warm up on, a log to hide under, or a hole to hibernate in?
This is a great project to finish at home. Children can talk about what kind of reptile they made and where it lives. They may write about the reptile and where it lives and describe their diorama.
Students learn how snakes and lizards use their sense of smell to help them survive in the wild.
different scents (essential oils, peppermint oil, almond oil, perfumes, vinegar, various extracts)- keep the variety small and diverse
Divide the number of envelopes to be used by the number of scents you have collected. (We suggest you use no more than 5 scents.) You should have one envelope per student.
Swab each envelope on the adhesive strip with one scent using a cotton ball. Each envelope gets one scent only. For example, if you have 20 students and 5 scents, then you should have 5 groups of envelopes with 4 envelopes in each group with the same scent.
Have you ever noticed a snake’s tongue? They are constantly flicking it in and out of their mouth and waving it around. Why do they do this?
Snakes have an excellent sense of smell, but instead of sniffing with their nose they use their tongue to “smell” their surroundings. How does this work?
Snakes and lizards have a special organ called a Jacobson’s organ. It is basically a couple of holes in the roof of the reptile’s mouth loaded with nerves.
The lizard or snake will stick out its tongue to pick up chemicals floating in the air or odors. It then sticks the tips of its tongue into the Jacobson’s organ which turns the “smells” into electrical signals.
These signals travel along the nerves from the Jacobson’s organ to the brain. The brain then tells the snake what it is smelling.
Many animals use their sense of smell to find out about the world around them. What would it be like to explore the world with only your nose?
Give each student a scented envelope. Tell the students to smell their envelope.
Have them try to find classmates whose envelopes smell like their own. Once they find someone, make sure they stay together in a group while seeking out others with the same scented envelope.
After about 10 minutes of sniffing, make sure everyone has found their scent group.
Have students describe how it felt to rely on their sense of smell alone. In what ways do animals use their sense of smell? Hints: Finding food, avoiding predators, finding mates, finding water, finding a safe burrow, identifying objects.
Inspire your students to create awesome art from sound.
- Animal sounds
First, play some animal sounds for your class. Many animal sounds can be found on the internet. Have a class discussion about the sounds. How does each sound make you feel? What do you think the animal is trying to say? How do you think the animal feels? Discuss what you think the sounds might look like if you could see them.
1. Write in big letters with a big marker a sound on a piece of paper. One for each student. Sounds might be ROAR, CHIRP, EEEEEEEP, SQUAAAAACK, SSSSSSSSSSS, etc. Be creative.
2. Have each student think about the sound and color or draw what they think the sound looks like on their paper.
Toads are very important animals for the environment. A single toad eats thousands of pests a year, including pesky mosquitos and plant damaging insects. Invite a toad to move in to your garden with this simple and fun toad house.
- broken clay pots (call garden stores, high schools, community centers, and ask them to save broken pots)
- acrylic paint
Use a curved piece of pot that may be layed on its side, creating a “cave,” one-half of the pot or greater is best. Have the children paint whatever they wish on the pot.
After the paint has dried, place the toad house in the garden among the plants. Dig a small hollow under the toad house and line it with some leaves. To encourage a toad to move in, place a pie tin or plant pot saucer near the house filled with water. (be sure to change the water every few days to prevents mosquitoes.
Enjoy your new amphibian pest control!
Where In The World!
By – Bette Belcher
Subject – Science, Social Studies
Grade Level – 4-6 grades
This lesson will enable students to identify characteristics of invertebrates and vertebrates from many places around the world. After a background lesson to define terms, the students will participate in the following activity working in small groups.
Your group will explore a region of the world. You may begin your journey from any place you desire. You may travel in the past, present or future. During your journey, you must identify five vertebrates and five invertebrates. You should be able to give the name of the animal in the language of the region. For example, in Germany the butterfly and the cow will be identified as der Schmetterling and die Kuh. The students may access this website for translations:
Your group must provide visuals to show features of the animals located and any other information necessary to make a good report.
Your group may combine all information in a travel brochure for others to enjoy. To give all group members an opportunity to participate, you may wish to utilize this work list:
- Researcher – defines terms and collects information on animals.
- Graphic Artist – will create illustrations, pictures, graphs, etc.
- Tech Pro – will utlize the web site to translate terms.
- GrammarManiac – will check for grammar, spelling, punctuation, and capitalization errors.
- Reporter – will present introduction for the group to the class.
Teachers may create rubrics to assess the elements desired for grading.
Students will discover what it is like to be an ectothermic or cold blooded animal in this fun experiment.
Being a reptile is no easy task.
Humans are warm blooded. Our body temperature is at a constant temperature of 98.6 degrees. (Unless we are sick and have a fever.)
Reptile body temperatures change according to the temperature of their surroundings. If it is 75 degrees outside, a snake will be 75 degrees inside its body. If it is 105 degrees outside, the reptile with be 105 degrees inside its body. Reptiles have a body temperature range that they must be at in order to survive.
Do you see many reptiles outside during the winter? Reptiles have to hibernate during the winter because it is too cold outside in order for their bodies to work properly. They cannot eat or move around when it is cold outside, so they go in to a deep sleep.
It is hard work for a reptile to keep within the temperature range it likes. They must find a warm place to sit when they are cold, and find a cool place when they are hot. Have you ever stood in the sun when you are cold or move to the shade when you are hot? Different types of reptiles have different temperature ranges they like.
For this experiment you will need a number of thermometers. It is best for the students to split up into groups sharing a thermometer. To make things really fun, you can decorate each thermometer by gluing it to a picture of a reptile from a magazine glued to a note card or other heavy card stock.
About an hour before class. Find an area that has many different features like rocks, grass, dirt, trees, and bushes. Find the lowest temperature in the area by putting thermometers in the shady areas. Then find areas with the highest temperature found on asphalt, rocks, or other hot surfaces in the sun.
Lay the thermometer down on an object, you do not want air temperatures. Wait at least two minutes before taking a reading.
Next, set up temperature ranges. They should be in five degree increments started at five degrees below your lowest recorded temperature and ending at five degrees above your highest recorded temperature.
Assign temperature ranges to the thermometer reptiles. If there are more temperature ranges than reptiles, space out the temperature ranges you assign.
Pass out the reptile thermometers along with its assigned temperature range. Give the children ten minutes or so to find the best place to lay their thermometer reptile so that the thermometer reads within its assigned range. Remember it takes a minute for the thermometer to give a proper reading and it must be actually on something, reptiles cannot hover in the air.
Encourage the children to be creative and experiment where they put the thermometers. You may even have the children write down where they place the thermometer and what its reading is. Some students will not be able to find a spot that will keep the thermometer within their range. Others may have to keep moving their reptile thermometer to stay within their assigned range, just like a real reptile!
After ten minutes or whatever time limit you decide, have the children discuss what they did back in the classroom.
How do you think a reptile’s day would be different than a humans? What are advantages to being ectothermic? What are the disadvantages?