ALEX Lesson Plan


Plants and Animals Provide for Their Needs

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Melanie Hester
System: Muscle Shoals City
School: Muscle Shoals City Board Of Education
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 35666


Plants and Animals Provide for Their Needs


This lesson will allow students to gather evidence to better understand how plants and animals provide for themselves by altering the environment. Students will observe plants and animals. Students will discuss their findings with group members. The students will write or draw about their findings. After writing with their group members, students will produce and present their knowledge to the class via Chatterpix.

This lesson results from the ALEX Resource Gap Project.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: K
28 ) With guidance and support from adults, explore a variety of digital tools to produce and publish writing, including in collaboration with peers. [W.K.6]

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: K
30 ) With guidance and support from adults, recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question. [W.K.8]

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
ELA.AAS.K.30- With prompting and support, recall a familiar experience or event.

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).

NAEP Framework
NAEP Statement::
E4.11: Humans depend on their natural and constructed environment. Humans change environments in ways that can either be beneficial or detrimental for themselves and other organisms.

NAEP Statement::
L4.1: Organisms need food, water, and air; a way to dispose of waste; and an environment in which they can live.*

NAEP Statement::
L4.2: Organisms have basic needs. Animals require air, water, and a source of energy and building material for growth and repair. Plants also require light.

NAEP Statement::
L4.3: Organisms interact and are interdependent in various ways, including providing food and shelter to one another. Organisms can survive only in environments in which their needs are met. Some interactions are beneficial; others are detrimental to the organism and other organisms.

NAEP Statement::
L4.4: When the environment changes, some plants and animals survive and reproduce; others die or move to new locations.

NAEP Statement::
L4.7: Different kinds of organisms have characteristics that enable them to survive in different environments. Individuals of the same kind differ in their characteristics, and sometimes the differences give individuals an advantage in surviving and reproducing.

Unpacked Content
Scientific And Engineering Practices:
Engaging in Argument from Evidence
Crosscutting Concepts: Cause and Effect
Disciplinary Core Idea: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
  • Make a claim using evidence to show how plants and animals sometimes alter their environment to ensure their needs are met.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • Gather
  • Evidence
  • Support
  • Plant
  • Animal
  • Provide
  • Needs
  • Alter
  • Environment
  • Claim
Students know:
  • Plants and animals meet their needs.
  • Plants change their environment to meet their needs.
  • Animals change their environment to meet their needs.
Students are able to:
  • Gather data (evidence) to support a claim that plants and animals alter the environment when meeting their needs.
Students understand that:
  • Systems in the natural and designed world have parts that work together like the plants and animals within their environments.
AMSTI Resources:
*vocabulary related to specific examples
AMSTI Module:
Plants and Animals
*Exploring Plants and Animals, STC

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

Local/National Standards:


Primary Learning Objective(s):

Students will gather evidence to explain how plants and animals provide for themselves by altering their environment.

Students will answer questions from evidence they gather.

Students will create a Chatterpix to tell how plants and animals provide for themselves by altering their environment.

Additional Learning Objective(s):

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

91 to 120 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

Seedlings that were previously planted (small plastic cups, soil, alfalfa seeds, water) Each group will need one seedling cup to observe.

Fish Tank with fish (plastic or glass tank, gravel for the bottom of tank, fish, fish food)  Each group will come and observe the one classroom fish tank.

large white construction paper (4-6 pieces needed, depending on the number of groups you have)

Markers (4-6 sets, one for each group)

Pencils  (4-6, one for each group)

Crayons (4-6 sets, one for each group)

Equity Sticks (sticks with student names on them for ensuring students are called on equally)

Small white paper (class set, one for each student)

Rubric (one for the teacher, see attached document)

Technology Resources Needed:

iPad-The teacher will use the iPad as the groups come to read and share their observations with the teacher so the recording can be done.

Chatterpix app loaded on iPad




The students will have already planted the seeds in individual cups. The students will have put soil and alfalfa seeds in a cup and watered them daily to begin the growing process. As a whole group, the class will have made a fish habitat. The students will have helped the teacher put rocks in a clear, plastic tank, fill the tank with water and added the treatment for the water. The students will observe the teacher putting the fish into the tank. The students will take turns feeding the fish daily and observe the fish in their habitat. Students will have already observed the seedlings, watered them, and discussed what plants need to survive. The students will have fed the fish and discussed what animals need to survive. Students will have already worked in small groups and know the procedures for working cooperatively.  Students will also know who their turn and talk partner is, as well as the procedures for turn and talk.


The teacher will have taught lessons on what plants and animals need to survive. The teacher will have helped students with planting the seeds by distributing the cups, soil, and alfalfa seeds. The teacher will model how to put the soil in the cup and how to add the seeds. The teacher will model how to water the seeds. The teacher will have facilitated the building of the class fish habitat. The teacher will help the students add the rocks, water, water chemicals, and the fish. The teacher will model how to observe and discuss the fish and their habitat. The teacher will have also taught the rules and procedures of working in groups and will have already assigned groups for students to work in. The teacher will have taught the procedures for turn and talk and will have assigned turn and talk partners. The teacher will gather the supplies for the group portion of the lesson, including the large construction paper, the markers, and crayons. The teacher will have loaded the Chatterpix app on the iPads and will facilitate using the app with the groups. The teacher will also make sure the iPads are charged before the lesson begins. The teacher will have used equity sticks before with the class.

Chatterpix is an app for the iPad that teachers and students can use an avenue for students to present information. The teacher or student can choose a "character" to use to tell their information.  Once the "character" is chosen, a mouth is drawn on the "character". The student is recorded saying the information they wish to tell. When the playback is done, the mouth on the "character" will move as the student's recorded voice plays. This is a free app in the app store.



1.  Explain to students that they will be using the alfalfa grass they planted and the fish habitat that was created as a whole group to observe how plants and animals provide for their needs by altering their environment. 

2.  Have students turn and talk to their turn and talk partner to discuss what plants and animals need to have to survive. Let students talk for a few minutes, then redirect students back to the teacher. Using equity sticks, pick different groups to share their partner's thoughts on what plants and animals need to survive.

3.  Explain to students that they are going to use the information they know about what plants and animals need to survive to figure out what plants and animals do to change the environment 


1.  Ask students to think about what happens when they make footprints in mud, sand, etc.  Let students explain their answers. Explain to students that when the footprints are made, that is an example of changing the environment.

2.  Ask students to think about how animals and plants might change their environments. Have students again turn and talk with their partner about their answers to the question. Use equity sticks to allow students to discuss their answers with the whole group.

3.  Divide the students into the groups of 4-6.

4.  Give each student a piece of small white paper to use to record what they individually observe while looking at the grass and fish habitat.

5.  Give each group a cup with alfalfa grass that is growing. Put the fish tank (habitat) in a central location, so the groups can be called one at a time to come and observe the tank.

6.  Ask students to observe and write/draw what they notice about how the seeds/grass have changed the environment in the cup.  While groups are working on this task, allow each group to come to the tank and write/draw what they notice about the tank.

7.  After the groups have observed both the grass and fish tank, give each group a large piece of white construction paper and let them work together to write/draw what they observed.


1.  As the groups finish, let the group members come and record their observations of how the grass and fish changed their environments to help each of them survive using the Chatterpix app.

2.  After each group has recorded their Chatterpix, play each group's presentation for the class while instructing the students to listen for things that another student might mention that are the same as what they might have learned. Allow the groups to show their writings/drawings after watching the Chatterpix explanations. Hang the large white construction paper that the groups completed around the room so students can observe them throughout the rest of the plant and animal unit.

3.  Lead a group discussion that reviews the observations of each group. Let students discuss things that the groups found in common, as well as different observations the groups had.

4.  Tie the lesson back to the beginning question about how we leave footprints and explain that all living things change the environment in order to survive.

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Assessment Strategies

Formative Assessment:

The teacher will use observations and questioning to assess students during the lesson.  The teacher will facilitate group work and ask and answer questions to engage students in learning.

Summative Assessment:

The teacher will use the rubric in the attachments section of the lesson for a summative assessment for each student.


Students can use the internet for further research on different animals and plants and see how they change their environment to survive.

Ideas of research topics:  giraffe, alligator, tiger, butterfly, rose, sunflower, or apple tree


The teacher can work with students one-on-one to help with answering questions about how the environments of the grass and fish are changing and use questioning to help guide clarification.

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.