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Adaptation Lesson Ideas For Primary Scientists

This year, out of any other year, we as educators have had to adapt each and every day.  In science, students from primary to intermediate can truly understand the meaning of adaptations just by brining up COVID. We have adapted with masks, lessons, not being able to work with partners,  bagging up supplies and even quarantining bags to make sure they are safe for use with other students, and the list goes on.

So let's add an adaptation lesson to your science lessons. Humans have adapted to living in almost any habitat. We are able to then recognize our own adaptations, as well as how animals survive as well. 

In a given adaptation unit, we want our little learners to focus on the following concepts: 
1.  Understand the relationship between living things and the habitat they live in
2. Learn how animals adapt and survive in that habitat
3. Learn the different types of adaptations that animals are equipped with such as behavioral adaptations (responses made), Body Adaptations (the physiological changes or body processes that help them survive, and Structural Adaptations (features of their body and what parts they have)
4. Animals have traits they pass down to their children, causing their children to look like, but not exactly like their parents
5. Animals adapt to obtain food as well as protect their food

These concepts can be taught with a ton of fun hands on ideas. These are some of the ideas for you to use:
  • The San Diego Zoo has a ton of Virtual Cameras for students to see what animals look like and how they survive and adapt found here. 

  • Students love this song (I have to say it's one of my favorites because by the time we are done with our mini unit they know the definition of adaptations=a change in the body to fit a location, as well as how a camel learns how to adapt in so many ways)

  • I love giving my students a baggie of paper, a cup, and a pipe cleaner. I don't give them the colors that they may need, but making sure that I have white for them to adapt. You can pick whatever colored paper you would like, but students can learn to adapt to whatever you give them that is another way to reiterate the understanding of what adapting means

  • We also extend this lesson to making a baby for our parent and we focus on how parents pass on traits to their children as well as teach them how to survive.  I give them just one notecard. With that notecard they must make a child that has similar characteristics to the parent. This gives us a chance to now look at animals that have fur/hair, scales, smooth, moist skin, feathers, and hard shell
         This allows you to now discuss the different types of animal groups such as mammals,                          amphibians, reptiles, crustaceans, fish, and birds. I love to show pictures of animals for them to 
          put into categories that I have on an anchor chart 

  • Pick an animal and focus on one to start if that helps. I start off our lessons focusing on Penguins and Camels. We compare and contrast where they live and how they survive in extreme conditions. We practice protecting our baby eggs by waddling with small balls/ bean bags from PE that we borrow.  We also learn about animal coverings by testing repel and absorb.

  • One of  my favorite go to's has always been bird beaks. We have always utilized my Bird Beak Stations, however this year I needed to adjust for independent learning. I placed in each baggie: beans, different shaped noodles, beads, (you could use whatever you see that might work such as popcorn, blocks....) two dixie cups (one for cutting like a beak, one for placing food in), a straw, and a clothes pin.  The clothespin, straw, and cup once cut on each side are all beaks. 

  • Another great way to teach adaptations and survival is to do a fun camouflage lesson! Once again, I adjusted for our learners both virtual and in person. I printed off a picture of flowers in a field and we focused on what "organisms" such as insects could they find that are camouflaged in the picture after placing bead down on it. Here is the picture I used with my class. Grab a copy! 

Find ways to cover your standards. Grab a great picture book, show a science connection video. Have students connect with STEM and you can adapt to whatever this year has thrown our way! Way to adapt, pivot, and survive! 

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