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Animals In The WildAnimals-In-The-Wild

  • Subject:
  • |
  • Grade(s): K-5
  • |
  • Duration: Two class periods

Lesson Plan Sections


Students will understand the following:
1. Not all snakes are the same. They vary in many ways: where they live, what they eat, whether or not they are venomous, what they look like.


For this lesson, you will need:
Research materials on snakes
Computer with Internet access
Construction paper
Box or basket


1. Prepare for this activity by cutting snake shapes out of colored construction paper and writing the name of a different snake on each one. Put the "snakes" in a box or basket.
2. Before playing "Take a Snake!" review with your students what they know about snakes. Tell students they are going to have a chance to play the game "Take a Snake!" and learn more about snakes at the same time.
3. Divide the class into groups, and have each group take a snake out of the basket to research. Students should use the materials you have provided and the Internet to do their research.
4. Guide students' research by starting them off with the following questions to answer:
  1. Where does the snake live?
  2. What does it eat?
  3. Is it venomous (poisonous)?
  4. What are its colors and patterns?
Encourage students to use these questions as a starting point but to take their research further.
5. Have each group design an informative chart or display to share information about its snake with the rest of the class.

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Adaptation for younger students
Younger students' research need go no further than answering the four questions you have provided.

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Discussion Questions

1. Discuss the ways that snakes warn animals and people, and the ways that people have to be careful when in an area that might have snakes. Describe areas in your community where snakes probably live. What kinds of precautions should you take to be safe?
2. Snakes are an important part in the food chain that regulates the population of some animals, especially rodents. Snakes are also food for other birds and animals. Discuss what might happen in your community if you got rid of all the snakes. Which animals would no longer have a predator to control the population? Which animals would have less food to eat? Use drawings to illustrate where the food chain would be changed.

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You can evaluate groups on their charts or displays using the following three-point rubric:
  • Three points: reflects in-depth and thorough research; is clear, easy to read, and carefully prepared; answers the four start-up questions and provides additional information as well
  • Two points: reflects adequate research; is satisfactorily prepared; answers the four start-up questions
  • One point: reflects inadequate research; is unclear and carelessly prepared; fails to answer the four start-up questions
You can ask your students to contribute to the assessment rubric by determining a minimum number of facts beyond answers to the four start-up questions that should be required to merit a three-point evaluation.

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Where Do They Live?
To correct the misconception that lions and tigers live in the same areas, have students do research to create a display on a map that shows the location of big cats around the world. They might include leopards, cheetahs, and panthers, in addition to lions and tigers. Students can also find out facts about each environment to display on the map.

Shaping Up
Invite your students to make big books in the shapes of whales and sharks. Have them research information on different species of whales and sharks for the pages of the books. Students can illustrate and label the pages with information discovered. Encourage your class to share their books with other classes and grade levels.

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Suggested Readings

Eric S. Grace. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books for Children, 1994.
Read this book to learn about snakes, the most common reptile. The snake lives on almost every continent, in almost every climate, on both land and in water. People fear snakes, but did you know that more than 75 percent of the world's snakes aren't poisonous?

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Snake Quiz
This site offers a new snake to identify each week. Enter your guess via e-mail and maybe you'll win!

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Click on any of the vocabulary words below to hear them pronounced and used in a sentence.

speaker    scales
Definition: Thin, platelike layers or pieces.
Context: Snakes are covered with scales.

speaker    fangs
Definition: Long venom-injecting teeth of some snakes.
Context: If a snake has fangs, it has poison in them.

speaker    receptors
Definition: Devices that take or get impulses, sounds or images for information.
Context: Some (snakes) see heat with special heat receptors that sense small differences in temperature.

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This lesson plan may be used to address the academic standards listed below. These standards are drawn from Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education: 2nd Edition and have been provided courtesy of theMid-continent Research for Education and Learningin Aurora, Colorado.
Grade level: K-2
Subject area: science
Knows about the diversity and unity that characterize life.
Knows that plants and animals have features that help them live in different environments.

Grade level: 3-5
Subject area: science
Knows about the diversity and unity that characterize life.
Knows that plants and animals progress through life cycles of birth, growth and development, reproduction, and death; the details of these life cycles are different for different organisms.

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Diane Hoffman, second-grade teacher, Bel-Pre Elementary School, Silver Spring, Maryland.

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