Extinction Lesson Plan for Elementary School

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

Do your students know what causes animals to become extinct? This lesson plan gives you the tools to teach them everything they should know about extinction. A text lesson designed for kids and an activity make learning fun.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • define 'extinction'
  • list and explain the factors that contribute to extinction
  • discuss the difficulty of determining if an animal is actually extinct


45 to 90 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.


Determine the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details; summarize the text.


Explain events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text, including what happened and why, based on specific information in the text.


Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words or phrases in a text relevant to a grade 4 topic or subject area.


  • Assorted images depicting extinct animals
  • Paper copies of the text lesson What is Extinction? - Lesson for Kids
  • A worksheet created using the quiz from the associated text lesson
  • A selection of fact sheets (with photographs) on various extinct animals
  • Construction paper
  • Crayons, markers, and/or colored pencils


  • Begin by displaying the images of extinct animals for the class.
    • Can you guess what the animals featured in the images have in common?
  • Pass out the paper copies of the text lesson, one for each student.
  • Tell the students to take turns reading aloud, one sentence each, from the introduction and 'Coelacanths' section of the text lesson.
    • Have any of you heard of a coelacanth?
    • Did you guess that all of the animals featured in the images are extinct?
  • Ask the students to take turns reading aloud from the 'Extinction' section of the text lesson.
    • What is extinction?
  • Have the class take turns reading aloud from the 'What Causes Extinction?' section of the text lesson.
    • How does habitat destruction lead to extinction?
    • What does pollution have to do with extinction?
    • What is an invasive species and how do they impact extinction?
  • Tell the students to take turns reading aloud from the remainder of the text lesson.
    • Why is it hard to know if a plant or animal has become extinct?
    • What can we do to prevent extinction?
  • Distribute the worksheet to the class, one per student.
  • Ask the students to use their paper copies of the text lesson as a reference tool in the completion of the worksheet.
  • When all students have finished the worksheet, have them pair up to share and compare answers.
  • Review each question and answer from the worksheet as students follow along checking their work.

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