K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education


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Learning outcomes


  • Students will use two graphic organizers.
  • Students will learn the definition of a mammal.


  • The learner will share information from their attribute chart and/or contribute a similarity or difference to our class Venn diagram.
  • The learner will write and illustrate at least one sentence on mammals in his/her bear research journal.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

40 minutes


  • A prepared Venn diagram labeled “Bears” and “Humans” on large chart paper, a marker.
  • Students will need their bear research journals, a pencil and crayons.
  • Students need to be seated at their desk or table.


Students need to have completed the attribute chart in their bear research journals. (This is one strategy lesson from the unit titled, “We’re Bearly Different: Comparing and Contrasting Bears and Humans.”)


  1. “Open your bear research journal to our attributes chart. (pause) We’ve really found a lot of information about bears! Let’s see, I want to compare what I know about bears to what we know about people…but there are so many facts in our Bear Research Journals! What can we do? Hmmm, how do we organize information we want to compare?” Elicit the suggestion to use a Venn diagram. “That’s right; we used a Venn diagram last week to compare two different types of bears! It helps us see what’s the same and what’s different.”
  2. “Right now we’re going to look for similarities between the different types of bears we studied. Raise your hand if you remember what similarities are. (Call on a volunteer) Right, similarities are things that are the same. As we reread our Attribute Chart, I want you to listen very carefully for information that is the same for all the bears. Any questions?”
  3. “Let’s start by reading what all our bears look like. Everyone put your finger on the first box. Look at what you wrote down and tell us what black bears look like. (pause) Good! OK, everybody move their finger over one square. Raise your hand if you can tell us what polar bears look like.”
  4. After discussing what all four bears look like, elicit some physical characteristics all four bears share. (e.g. fur) Then point to the Venn diagram and ask if that should go in the middle, on the human side, or on the bear side. Ask why. Write “have fur” on the bear circle.
  5. Repeat process for each of the remaining attributes (eats and environment).
  6. Since all the characteristics of mammals might not be addressed, be sure to ask some leading questions to get those facts on the Venn diagram. (e.g. “Are there any other similarities we can think of that aren’t on our Attribute Chart? What about when momma bears have cubs? Do any of them lay eggs?” etc.)
  7. Count how many things bears and humans have in common. Introduce the term mammal: “There is a special word to describe animals that have some of these things in common. If a type of animal gives birth, drinks its mother’s milk and has fur, then it’s called a mammal. Let me hear everybody say ‘mammal’.”
  8. Write the word mammal on the board/chart paper. Identify some common mammals: “Are you mammals? How about me?”
  9. Then write “Bear and humans are both mammals because.…” Have students come up with different endings to this sentence. Tell them they will copy this sentence in their journals, write one correct ending of their choice, and will then illustrate their sentence. Walk around to monitor and assist.


Students who have participated in the oral section of the lesson and wrote and illustrated a sentence about humans and bears being mammals will have met the lesson goals.

Supplemental information

See other lesson plans by Susan Lovett in the unit titled, “We’re Bearly Different: Comparing and Contrasting Bears and Humans” for more information.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • Mathematics (2010)
      • Grade 1

        • Measurement & Data
          • 1.MD.4 Organize, represent, and interpret data with up to three categories; ask and answer questions about the total number of data points, how many in each category, and how many more or less are in one category than in another.

    • North Carolina Essential Standards
      • Science (2010)
        • 1.L.1 Understand characteristics of various environments and behaviors of humans that enable plants and animals to survive. 1.L.1.1 Recognize that plants and animals need air, water, light (plants only), space, food and shelter and that these may be found...
        • 1.L.2 Summarize the needs of living organisms for energy and growth. 1.L.2.1 Summarize the basic needs of a variety of different plants (including air, water, nutrients, and light) for energy and growth. 1.L.2.2 Summarize the basic needs of a variety of different...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Mathematics (2004)

Grade 1

  • Goal 5: Algebra - The learner will demonstrate an understanding of classification and patterning.
    • Objective 5.02: Use Venn diagrams to illustrate similarities and differences in two sets.

Science (2005)

Grade 1

  • Goal 1: The learner will conduct investigations and make observations to build an understanding of the needs of living organisms.
    • Objective 1.02: Investigate the needs of a variety of different animals:
      • Air.
      • Water.
      • Food.
      • Shelter.
      • Space.