ALEX Lesson Plan

Amazing Animal Adaptations for K-2

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Carol McLaughlin
System: Hoover City
School: Greystone Elementary School
Author:Amanda Walker
System: Hoover City
School: Bluff Park Elementary School
The event this resource created for:Birmingham Zoo
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 35693


Amazing Animal Adaptations for K-2


This is a multi-session interactive lesson plan about animal adaptations for kindergarten through second grade students. The goal of this interactive digital lesson plan is to guide students through activities that help them understand how characteristics such as body covering, body parts, and behaviors help animals survive.  These lesson plans also build cooperation and communication skills for students. There are additional resources provided for the teacher to use before or after using the HyperDoc. 

This Lesson Plan was created in partnership with the Birmingham Zoo.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: K
9 ) Actively engage in group reading activities with purpose and understanding. [RL.K.10]

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 1
19 ) With prompting and support, read informational texts appropriately complex for Grade 1. [RI.1.10]

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 2
19 ) By the end of year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, in the Grades 2-3 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range. [RI.2.10]

SC2015 (2015)
Grade: K
3 ) Distinguish between living and nonliving things and verify what living things need to survive (e.g., animals needing food, water, and air; plants needing nutrients, water, sunlight, and air).

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SCI.AAS.K.3- Sort a group of items based on whether the items are living or nonliving.

SC2015 (2015)
Grade: K
4 ) Gather evidence to support how plants and animals provide for their needs by altering their environment (e.g., tree roots breaking a sidewalk to provide space, red fox burrowing to create a den to raise young, humans growing gardens for food and building roads for transportation).

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SCI.AAS.K.4- Observe and/or identify ways plants and animals alter their environment to live.

SC2015 (2015)
Grade: 1
5 ) Design a solution to a human problem by using materials to imitate how plants and/or animals use their external parts to help them survive, grow, and meet their needs (e.g., outerwear imitating animal furs for insulation, gear mimicking tree bark or shells for protection).*

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SCI.AAS.1.5- Match an environmental situation with an appropriate human action (e.g., wearing a jacket when it is cold; animals growing a thick coat during the winter; wearing protective gear like a turtle has a shell).

SC2015 (2015)
Grade: 2
7 ) Obtain information from literature and other media to illustrate that there are many different kinds of living things and that they exist in different places on land and in water (e.g., woodland, tundra, desert, rainforest, ocean, river).

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SCI.AAS.2.7- Participate in activities that show many different living things in different environments.

Local/National Standards:


Primary Learning Objective(s):

The students will:

  • will engage in group reading activities with purpose and understanding.
  • read informational texts with prompting and support.
  • identify what living things need to survive.
  • identify how animals use and alter their environments to help them survive.
  • give examples of characteristics that animals have to help them survive.
  • apply knowledge from the introduction lessons to identify adaptations of the American Black Bear.
  • use knowledge gained from the lesson to place animals in their correct habitat.
  • create a model of an animal adaptation.
  • design a solution to a human problem by creating an adaptation similar to those that animals have developed.
  • obtain information from media and other literature to identify different animal habitats.

Additional Learning Objective(s):

Students will:

  • communicate and collaborate in pairs, a group, or a whole class to answer questions about animal adaptations.
  • be able to use digital tools/resources to answer a question.
 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

91 to 120 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

This lesson is technology based and will require an internet connection. If the teacher is the only one with an internet connection, the teacher may display this resource through a projector. If the teacher wants students to work in pairs and has access to other devices such as iPads, Chromebooks, tablets, or a computer lab with desktops, the teacher may share the provided link or QR code in the Teacher's Guide. 

Teacher materials: 

  • projector/Smartboard for whole group or pairs
  • paper, straws, foil, pipe cleaners, cardboard, glue, tape--open to what the teacher has in the classroom)
  • internet connection

Student materials:

  • If students are working in pairs, you need enough devices to share with every pair of students. These devices could be iPads/tablets, Chromebooks, or a computer lab of desktop computers
  • Internet connection
  • paper for summative assessment (after watching the American Black Bear video)
  • various art materials for students to create animal adaptations (examples: paper, straws, foil, pipe cleaners, cardboard--open to what the teacher has in the classroom)
  • scissors, glue, tape

Technology Resources Needed:


1. The teacher will need to open the Teacher's Guide link and read the "How to Use This Resource" section.  

2. The teacher needs to select the HyperDoc (K-1 or 1-2) that best fits their students.  

These lessons are set in a HyperDoc. HyperDocs are digital lessons/units that help students learn the material in a way that is engaging and inquiry-based.  The teacher can use this lesson as a whole group (especially for Kindergarten) viewed through a projector or it can be shared in a computer lab. If you have access to enough devices for pairs, it will be a self-pacing unit with discussions each day led by the teacher.

For the K-1 version: Students need basic computer skills, such as being able to click a link or manipulate objects inside an online game. 

For the 1st-2nd grade version: Students need to be able to do the skills above and also need beginner typing skills to type a few words in text boxes. Students also need to be able to click back and forth between two open tabs to gather information needed to complete the chart. 

3. The teacher needs to decide how to share the HyperDoc with the class. It can be shared through the projector for a whole group activity (K-1) or can be shared with pairs or groups in a computer lab or with pairs of students sharing devices for the grades 1-2 version. 

4.  The activities in the HyperDocs can take place over a week depending on how much time is allotted each day by the teacher. The pace for students in K-1 will be set by the teacher since the HyperDoc will be shared to the whole group. The pace for the 1-2 can be a mix of whole group, small groups or pairs, or a mix of all 3. The beauty of HyperDocs is the flexibility of its use.



Depending upon the way the HyperDoc is shared, the teacher will click the link to show the first video in the first section titled "Let's Learn about Animal Adaptations." The class can watch the video together OR the students can scan a QR code or type in the shortened URL to work in pairs. 

Formative Assessment/Discussion for whole class: What is an animal adaptation? What are some adaptations that help a chameleon? What characteristics on a cactus help it survive in the desert? What behavior helps a cheetah hunt its prey?


For this part of the lesson use the sections titled "Learn More about Adaptations and Habitats" and "Working Together to Learn More" on the HyperDoc.

Directions and formative assessment for "Learn More about Adaptations and Habitats":

Click the link in the box (or pairs of students will click the link) in this section. Read and discuss each slide.


Step-by-Step directions/assessment for each section of the HyperDoc. If students are working in pairs (grade 1-2), teachers will walk around and ask students these questions as they complete sections OR at the end of each day discuss one section to check for understanding.

Slide 2: Why do you think grasshoppers are green? How does this help it? How could the feathers of an owl help it?

Slide 3: Can you find the owl? Why would a leopard or cheetah need to hide? How does its fur help it?

Slide 4: People use something very similar to a hummingbird's beak when they drink at times. What is it? (Straws)

Slide 5: What is the praying mantis acting like or mimicking on the branch? 

Slide 6: Would a polar bear like to live in Alabama? Why or why not? How does the bear help make more berries in its habitat?

Slide 7: Which habitat do you think would be the easiest to live in? Which would be the hardest? 

Slide 8:  Which habitat would the black bear like best? Why do you think this?

Directions for "Working Together to Learn More": 

K-1st: The teacher will ask one of the questions on the HyperDoc. Students will turn to a partner and discuss. The class will discuss answers. The teacher will repeat with all of the questions. (formative assessment) 

1st-2nd: The teacher will explain the task. The students will work together to read about animals at the Birmingham Zoo to answer questions in the Google Doc.  The teacher will walk around helping students where needed and checking answers. Answers can be shared and compared with the whole class. Assessment: The teacher will check for correct answers for each question. (formative assessment)


For this part of the lesson, use sections "Show What You Know" and "Done? Keep Exploring!"

Show what you know!

Read the question before you click the video: Can you find an adaptation in this video that helps the American Black Bear survive? The teacher will distribute paper. The students will work in pairs to draw an adaption they noticed in the video about the American Black Bear.

Assessment: Are students able to identify adaptations shared in the video? (summative)

Done? Keep Exploring!

1. When class/students are completed, explore the games/videos in this section. The teacher will walk around and observe as students are completing the games. 

2. When students have completed watching the video Super Inventions: Inspired by Animals, allow students to create an invention inspired by an animal.  

Instructions for students:

  1. After watching Super Inventions, create an invention inspired by an animal! Pick one cool thing an animal can do or one thing an animal has that can help humans. What can an animal do that you wish you could do?

  2. Think of a way to create and share your animal inspired invention! Make sure you explain how the animal adaptation can help humans.

After using the HyperDoc:

Use any of the extra resources and ideas shared in the Teacher's Guide to continue learning about animal adaptations. 


Assessment Strategies

The HyperDocs are intended to be used as part of a unit focused on animals or animal adaptations. Use the questions listed by each task as a formative assessment to check for understanding. If teachers use the HyperDoc for grades 1st-2nd, the "Work Together to Learn More" section can be used for a formative or summative assessment. The inventions and explanations of the inventions can be used for understanding of what is an animal adaptation and how it can be used to aid in survival. 

Formative Assessments:

1. Questions included for pair/class discussion, (K-1 and 1-2) [RL.K.10]  [RI.1.10]  [RI.2.10] SC2015 (K,3-4), SC2015 (2-7)

2. Complete Google Doc listing animal adaptations found in the three animals from the Birmingham Zoo.  [RI.2.10]

Summative Assessments:

1. Drawings students complete after watching the video American Black Bears. SC2015 (1-5),  SC2015 (K,3-4)

2. Complete invention and explanation of how it relates to an animal adaptation. Use rubricSC2015 (1)


For those students or classes that need acceleration:

Pose this STEM/STEAM activity: 

Essential Question: Can you make an adaptation similar to how animals have adaptions to help you get a cup that is out of your reach? Be ready to explain to others how it is like an animal adaption.

Materials:  straws, paper, foil, string, craft sticks, pipe cleaners, tape, and paper plates. You will also need plastic cups for the students to grab.

Activity: After completing the animal adaptation lessons with the class, give the students this challenge to make an adaptation tool that can help them get a cup out of their reach. Make a line on the floor or make a mark of some sort to determine the location where students will stand. Place the cups out of reach from that line. The students can use any of the materials listed (plus any that you think of) to create the tool. Students may work individually, with a partner, or in a group. You can add to the challenge by moving the cups or changing the cups to a different object that is not as easy to move.



Read What Do You Do When Something Wants to Eat You? by Steve Jenkins to discuss how various animals use adaptations to survive. If necessary, students may go back through the HyperDoc in a small group with the teacher to review the material. The teacher may break down each section into smaller parts to identify misconceptions. 

View the Special Education resources for instructional guidance in providing modifications and adaptations for students with significant cognitive disabilities who qualify for the Alabama Alternate Assessment.