Student Background Information: Students will need to be familiar with the terms trait and environment and how these terms relate to living things.
Students will need to have background knowledge regarding the different habitats of living things, which is related to the Second Grade Alabama Course of Study Standard 7:
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).
This lesson will require students to conduct research using print or digital sources and take brief notes. This lesson will also require students to develop an explanatory writing piece in a claim-evidence-reasoning format. If students do not have experience with these two skills, the teacher may wish to provide more scaffolding and support during the after strategy of this lesson.
Teacher Background Information: There are many arctic animals that experience a seasonal change in fur color, such as the arctic hare and the arctic fox. Scientists are not completely sure why this change happens for some animals but does not happen for others, such as polar bears, although they have hypothesized that the animals’ seasonal change in fur color does provide some evolutionary advantages. First, the animals that experience a seasonal change in fur color are able to camouflage themselves during the snowy seasons and also during the summer, when the snow melts. Also, scientists believe that white fur, which lacks melanin, leaves air spaces in the animal's hair shaft which provides an extra layer of insulation. The beginning portion of this lesson will focus on the arctic fox, but students will have the opportunity to conduct research on other animals that experience a seasonal change in fur color.
Please see these two websites for additional information about these animals: Arctic Fox article from National Geographic and 7 Animals That Turn White in Winter article from Britannica.
This lesson will conclude with a writing project that will follow the claim-evidence-reasoning format. If the teacher is unfamiliar with this method of scientific writing, he or she can visit “Claims and Evidence” from Ambitious Science Teaching to learn more about this strategy.
If the students will not have access to internet capable devices for research during the lesson, the teacher should locate non-fiction texts related to some of the animals described in the 7 Animals That Turn White in Winter article from Britannica.