Animal Adaptation Activities

Instructor: David Wood

David has taught Honors Physics, AP Physics, IB Physics and general science courses. He has a Masters in Education, and a Bachelors in Physics.

There are a lot of animals in the world, with a lot of adaptations. Help students learn about them by trying out these fun animal adaptation activities.

Animal Adaptations Activities

Evolution happens over long periods of time, and so it can be hard for students to understand. It isn't something they can see happen in front of their eyes. However, one thing that is easier for them to understand is the simple idea that animals have particular traits which fit their environment. In this lesson, we are going to provide some ideas for engaging activities that can help students connect with the idea of animal adaptations.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

For this activity, assign students an animal that has a series of adaptations. This can be done individually or in groups. Tell them that they have to create an attractive poster which shows these adaptations. There are a few different approaches to these posters. They could be centered on a picture of the animal, with labels and arrows pointing to its various adaptations and explaining them.

However another approach is to require students to illustrate the adaptations of the animals without using any words. For example, a student could draw several pictures of the animal making use of each of his adaptations - using its teeth to bite into prey, using its height to reach the trees, using its skin to bask in the sun, or whatever the animal's particular adaptation may be. Students can then present their posters to the class.

Categorization Game

This activity is about categorizing animal adaptations. We humans love to put things into categories and boxes. We can do the same thing with adaptations. There are lots of ways to categorize adaptations, but one of the most common is to split them into their main purposes: defensive adaptations, movements and migration adaptations, mating and communication adaptations, and environmental adaptations. You can also split them more broadly into behavioral versus structural adaptations. Animals have particular features, but they also have adapted behaviors.

Matching Activity

This activity is simple. Students are challenged to match the adaptation to the animal which has it. Give each student or group of students a set of index cards to sort. On some index cards write the names of animals, and on other index cards write the adaptations. It's up to students to figure out which animal goes with which adaptation.

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