Animal Adaptations and the Classroom Zoo

Animal Adaptations and the Classroom Zoo

Submitted by: Kay Faries
School: Pemberton Elementary


Students begin with brainstorming their favorite animal and its habitat. Students then form collaborative groups (scientific teams) of 3 or 4 and are given a challenge to ‘create’ an animal and get their animal into the Classroom Zoo. ‘Scientific teams’ will design and build a three-dimensional model of an animal adapted to survive in the choice of one of the following environments; forest, desert, grassland, rainforest, marshland, swamp, pond, river, ocean or stream. The appropriate physical and behavioral adaptations have to be included in the design process. The animal must also meet a list of criteria; must stand on its own, have at least one moving part, and have no fewer than two adaptations. After the animal is constructed, the students have to create a scenic background to represent their chosen environment. Once the animals and model habitat are complete the ‘teams’ will prepare a presentation for the zoo board to lobby to have their animal included. Teams must be sure to define what type of habitat would need to be built for their animal to be successful as well as convince the zoo board of why their animal should be included. Students will make their ‘presentation’ to the board (students and key teachers), sharing their animal, its habitat, and its adaptations. Students will have their choice of multimedia tools to create their presentation.

TIPC Ratings

Students evaluated online databases, websites, and other print reference materials for relevant information. Students created questions to guide their research. Students analyzed information to determine its relevance to their newly discovered animal. Teams created a digital presentation that demonstrated physical and behavioral adaptations used to survive in a particular environment.

Students initiated communication in real time through their team presentation to the zoo board of directors through the use of the blog to communicate and collaborate with resources beyond the school walls. Students formed and worked in collaborative teams to justify the inclusion of their animal in the Classroom Zoo. Presentations were made available via the blog.

Students/Teams utilized a variety of print and digital resources to answer self created questions to solve an authentic problem. Digital tools were also utilized to collaborate (a class blog) with resources beyond the school walls. Students created and answered open-ended questions with minimal teacher guidance. There were technical difficulties with the Blabberize when the students began recording their presentations. The students generated a solution so that their presentations could be completed.

Teams applied critical thinking skills to utilize their research on animal adaptations to design and build an animal. Students worked collaboratively within their team to identify needed items and design a habitat for their animals to live within successfully. Students were provided with digital resources and allowed choice in how to create their presentation.

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