Lesson Plan

Animal Adaptations

4th Grade Science and Engineering
Mary K.
Technology coordinator
Erie 1 BOCES
West Seneca, NY
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My Grades K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
My Subjects English Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, Arts

Students will be able to identify animal survival adaptations by describing their distinguishing structures and how they are used. They will then be able to take ideas from animal adaptations and distinguishing structures to create an invention to help humans.

Grades 4
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Hook

Hook – Ask students to give you a “thumbs up.” Have them respond, by a show of hands, if their thumbs are pointing to the ceiling or to the side. Ask them why they think some students’ thumbs are different. Do the same thing with students holding their pinky fingers next to each other side-by-side. Do their pinky fingers touch all the way up, or do they curve out? How many students are left-handed? How many students are right-handed?

Students will watch Helping Hands from PBS Learning Media and the Cincinnati Zoo - http://vitalny.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/2712d3c2-3c05-4be0-af71-08fb83933503/2712d3c2-3c05-4be0-af71-08fb83933503/. Before watching the video, they will complete the Pre-Viewing column of the viewing guide in pairs: http://d43fweuh3sg51.cloudfront.net/media/alfresco/u/pr/ThinkTV/Helping%20Hands%20Group_2712d3c2-3c05-4be0-af71-08fb83933503/HelpingHands_VGA.pdf

NOTE: After three resource viewings, you will be required to create an account for PBS Learning Media. It is FREE, and well worth it!

2 Direct Instruction

Direct Instruction - The teacher will then read the answers to the viewing guide questions. Students will complete the Post-Viewing column of the viewing guide in pairs, discussing their findings. You will then discuss student findings as a class. http://d43fweuh3sg51.cloudfront.net/media/alfresco/u/pr/ThinkTV/Helping%20Hands%20Group_2712d3c2-3c05-4be0-af71-08fb83933503/HelpingHands_VGA.pdf

As a class, you will also view To Be a Bird (http://vitalny.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/1d4578f1-1c0a-4d5e-9060-3df2c6f40428/1d4578f1-1c0a-4d5e-9060-3df2c6f40428/), complete the viewing guide, and discuss the adaptations of various birds and their beaks by using the Bird Food presentation: http://vitalny.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/tdc02.sci.life.colt.birdfood/bird-food/

More examples of birds, including videos, can be found at http://arkive.org/birds, if you would like to create your own supplementary presentation.


Note: More videos can be found through http://PBSLearningMedia.org, or http://youatthezoo.org/videos-and-teacher-resources.html. If these videos and support materials are accessed through PBS Learning Media, they can be downloaded for offline access.

3 Guided Practice

Guided Practice – Students will now explore fish adaptations on their own, with teacher support, using the following practice site: http://sea.sheddaquarium.org/sea/buildafish/flash.html

With teacher support, students will then explore Google Earth, with the http://Arkive.org Layer turned on (within the “Global Awareness” Layer). The Arkive.org Layer will allow students to explore animals by their locations/habitats around the world, viewing photos, videos, and interesting facts about each animal and their adaptations.

For information about animal classification traits, students can use the following interactive, and do the practice activities: http://vitalny.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/lsps07.sci.life.oate.animalclass/animal-classification-game/

4 Independent Practice

Independent Practice – Students will use the Puppet Pals app on iPads to produce a video project to describe and use an animal adaptation of their choosing. In the first scene of the video project, students will record their voice and explain what the animal’s adaptation is, and what it is used for. Images of animals to use as “puppets” can be found at Arkive.org or http://pics4learning.com. Images of arrows for use in their explanations can be found at https://openclipart.org/tags/arrow. All images will need to be saved to the iPads first. Students will be required to write their scripts before recording, and their image and information citation links will be included at the bottom of their scripts.

In the second scene of the video project, students will describe how they would use ideas from this animal’s adaptation to create something useful for people (e.g. color-changing “mood clothing” similar to a chameleon). Students will take a “clipping” of the animal’s structure for adaptation from the image of their animal, and add it to a drawing of a device/tool/invention of their creation, saved from the Scribble Lite app (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/scribble-lite/id285008210?mt=8), or other drawing app. Students will be required to write this script as well before recording and saving their video for export to the iPad’s Photo Library.

5 Wrap-Up


Wrap-up - Once student video projects are exported to the iPad’s photo library, they can be shared in a variety of ways, including emailing to the teacher, posting to social media, or displaying on an interactive whiteboard via Airplay. Both video project "scenes" can also be combined using the iMovie app on an iPad. iMovie also allows you to add interesting titles, transitions, and overlays to your video.

Individual iPads can also be connected directly to a computer via USB, and the videos can be downloaded to that computer or a flash drive connected to the computer. Downloaded videos in the MP4 format can also be added to an iMovie project on a Mac computer, to create a class video of animal adaptation inventions. Other video editing software can also be used on a PC to create a class video from individual student projects.