Wild Animal Lesson Plans

 

When we study animals, we always cover these elements:

  • Morphology: the physical characteristics of animals, including body parts and adaptations.
  • Life cycles: how animals are born, live, and reproduce.
  • Habitats: the places where animals live.
  • Relationships with humans: how humans affect the animals and how they affect us.

Some of our favorite wild animal lesson plans:

  • Sort animals according to their scientific classifications, size, habitat, or other criteria suited to your class. Let students use Animal Photo Cards, cards on which they’ve written animal names, or mindmapping software. With upper elementary and older, we like to put students in groups and challenge them to sort animals in as many different groupings as possible to help them gain insight into the issue of taxonomy.
  • Have each student choose an animal to report on, do research, and plan a project or presentation to share the information with the class.
  • Learn about the food chains or food webs of the habitats you’re studying. Use paper chains to show the connections among as many creatures as possible.
  • Visit a zoo or animal park to observe wild animals directly. Before you go, watch some films, read some books, and have some conversations about the kinds of animals you might see. Develop hypotheses — for young children, that might mean having the class decide whether they think they’ll see all the animals awake during the day, while in older classes you might ask each student to develop a hypothesis to test. Make observations that allow the students to decide whether their hypotheses are confirmed or disconfirmed.
  • Ask each student to choose an animal. Find descriptions in literature of the animals they’ve chosen and have students write and illustrate a report on the image their animals have among people. Then have them research their animals to determine, for example, whether wolves really are big and bad.
  • Watch this video list of the Top Ten Beastliest Beats and have students make their own. If you upload them at YouTube, please leave the URL in the comments — we’d love to see them!

Check out some online resources:

  • Jan Brett’s rhythm band uses recyclables to make rhythm instruments with images of lions, elephants, giraffes, and more. Use this as an activity for following directions, coloring, and environmental awareness (the “reuse” section of “reduce, reuse, recycle”), and end up with lots of great rhythm instruments to use all year.
  • First School has preschool ideas for all kinds of different animals.
  • Wikibooks Animal Alphabet combines great photos into an online alphabet book for your early childhood computer center.
  • Pictures, video, and audio clips for lots of animals are available at Jungle Walk. Set these up as a computer center, use them as background sounds for the first day of school to make an intriguing¬†multisensory experience of your classroom, or gain inspiration for research projects.
  • Animal Planet has lots to explore. Set the site up for open exploration in your computer center. There are some ads.
  • A wonderful art lesson based on the work of painter Henri Rousseau leads kids to make wild animal art.

More fun stuff for the classroom:

 

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