Animal Adaptation Games

Instructor: Julie Zundel

Julie has taught high school Zoology, Biology, Physical Science and Chem Tech. She has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master of Education.

A lesson on animal adaptations can fit into many different content areas. This lesson will cover several games you can use to enhance units on animal adaptations in your classroom.

Adaptation ABCs

This is a good introduction to adaptations. Have students write the alphabet vertically on a piece of paper. Each letter of the alphabet gets its own line. Next, tell students they have five minutes to come up with an adaptation for each letter of the alphabet. The student with the most adaptations at the end, wins. Here are some examples (for random letters):

  • C: Camouflage
  • F: Flippers or flight
  • G: Gills
  • H: Hibernation
  • S: Speed
  • W: Webbed feet

Adaptation: Blubber

This activity demonstrates how blubber can keep marine animals warm in frigid temperatures. For this game, you will need Crisco, two large (gallon sized) Ziploc bags, and two buckets of ice water. Fill one Ziploc approximately 1/2 to 3/4 full of Crisco. Place the second bag inside of the Crisco filled bag. You can use the zips on the bags to zip the two bags together. You should end with Crisco sealed between the two bags so if you placed your hand inside it would act like a glove and you wouldn't get Crisco on your hand. Next have students place the glove on one hand and leave the other hand bare. Set a timer to see how long the student can keep the bare hand in the ice water. Next see how long the student can keep the gloved hand in the ice water.

Adaptation: Feet

This activity demonstrates how different feet are adapted to help animals survive in different environments. You will need several pictures of animal feet along with pictures of their associated environments and/or food. Here are some examples:

  • A photo of a snowshoe hare's foot and a photo of deep snow
  • A photo of a webbed duck's foot and a photo of a lake
  • A photo of a caribou's hoof and a photo of tundra
  • A photo of a bird of prey's foot (like an eagle) and a photo of a salmon
  • A photo of a polar bear's foot and a photo of ice and water
  • A photo of a red squirrel's foot and a photo of a spruce tree

Next pass out the photos to each student. Tell them they need to find their match whether that is the animal that fits the environment or vice versa. After they find their partner, each group needs to explain how the foot is adapted to a particular environment.

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