Building a Better Beast
activity exercisesuggested grade levels:7-12

view Idaho achievement standards for this lesson

This is an activity where students can play as they learn about adaptations. It is also a great way to end a unit on environments or wildlife. Students should be familiar with the basic characteristics of different classes of animals. They should know what kinds of adaptations particular animals need in order to survive in their different habitats. This activity encourages students to apply what they have learned.

1. Students will be exposed to the Digital Atlas of Idaho.
2. Students will be able to design their own animal that is adapted to a particular environment and make a model of it.
3. Students will be able to decide which features this animal should have in order to survive in the selected environment.

Colored pencils Glue

1. (This part can be done as a demo) Teacher/students go to the biology section of the Digital Atlas and examine the pictures of various animals including amphibians, mammals, fish, birds, reptiles, and insects. To get there: Click on Atlas home, then on Biology. Then go to the different links from there and show pictures of the different classes of animals to your class. Be sure to show a picture of as many different classes of animals as possible. Ask as a discussion for each animal shown:

a. What type of environment does this animal live in?
b. What types of food does this animal eat?
c. What adaptations does this animal need in order to survive and obtain food in its habitat?

2. Give students the opportunity to each select a particular habitat. Tell students to consider temperature, water, food available, etc.

3. Encourage each student to write down the types of adaptations that an animal will need to survive and obtain food in the selected habitat.

4. Each student will construct his/her own imaginary animal that is adapted to its selected environment. Students will have to decide what their animal should look like and the anatomical features it should have. Students can use the materials stated above to draw/construct their animal. Emphasize that they should be creative but it must be realistic within certain boundaries. For example, species can not have metal body parts or laser eyes.

5. Students will write down what their animal eats and the adaptations that they gave their animal in order to obtain that food and survive in the selected environment, include movement, evading predators, obtaining oxygen, etc.

6. Students will present their animals to the class. Encourage the class to have a discussion on each animal and its  adaptations.

Handouts/Activity links:
These are links to access the handouts and printable materials.

Related Lesson Topics:
Biology: Biology Topics

Lesson plan by Stefan Sommer and James Scannell, 2001
Idaho Achievement Standards (as of 7/2001) met by completing this activity: