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


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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • discover and compare the characteristics and needs of specific animals and their habitats.
  • use the KWLH Model.
  • work in small cooperative groups.
  • use a digital camera.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

1–2 weeks


  • chart pad and markers
  • African animal pictures from calendars, digital photos, and/or websites
  • copies of the habitat photos for student use
  • eleven-by-eighteen-inch art paper
  • assorted art mediums (paint, chalk, markers, colored paper, glue)
  • laminator or clear contact paper to seal book pages
  • coil binder or large metal book rings

Technology resources

  • digital camera to take photos
  • internet access to select images from websites
  • computer and printer for printing photos
  • TV and VCR to show zoo video
  • “The 21st Century Zoo” video produced 1995, North Carolina Zoological Society
  • PowerPoint attachment of African animal habitats at the North Carolina Zoo
  • seed question attachment


Activity One

(thirty minutes)

  1. Gather all students at a central location and begin asking seed questions.
  2. Create a KWLH chart about Zoos with four columns to record present knowledge (Know), unanswered questions (Want), observations gained from study (Learned) and resources for more information (How). Teacher will guide to consensus and record.
  3. Post chart in classroom for modification as study progresses.

Activity Two

(thirty minutes)

  1. Students work in cooperative groups to study pictures of African animals in natural zoo habitats.
  2. Each group shares their findings with the class.
  3. Teacher monitors the discussion and notes common themes.
  4. Common themes/acquired knowledge are recorded on chart by teacher.
  5. Questions for future study are added to the chart.
  6. Teacher will plan zoo trip with these in mind.

Activity Three

(one hour)

  1. View “The 21st Century Zoo” looking for African Animals. (Pictures may be used in addition or in place of video.)
  2. Students brainstorm a list of African Animals. Chimpanzee, elephant, giraffe, gorilla, lion, ostrich, warthog, wild dog and zebra are included in the habitat pictures.
  3. Small groups of students will each choose an animal from the list.
  4. Each group will record knowledge and observations (see KWLH Chart in Activity One and Seed Question Attachment)
  5. Students will share chart with whole group.
  6. Students will use the PowerPoint attachment of African animal habitats to match their animal with a specific habitat.

Activity Four

(three hours)

  1. Field trip to the African Continent of the NC Zoo. (Information available 1-800-488-0444)
  2. Each student or small group will have copies of the eight habitats handout (PowerPoint) with space to illustrate, write phonetically or copy from signage.
  3. Students will be encouraged to record additional observations about the animals and their habitats.
  4. Students will use digital cameras to take photos of their animals in their habitats.

Activity Five

(thirty minutes)

  1. Students gather in a large group to check and compare their habitat/animal matches.
  2. Students will update KWLH Charts.
  3. Students will share animal photos taken at the zoo.

Activity Six

(one hour)

  1. Each small group will use an art medium of their choice to create their habitat on eleven-by-eighteen-inch art paper, attach their animal photos and add a caption.
  2. Students will share finished products.
  3. Pages will be laminated and bound into a book.


Post and find common themes in KWLH Charts. Highlight and personalize questions and answers from Charts and seed questions. Books created by students.

Supplemental information

  • The 21st Century Zoo video produced in 1995 by the North Carolina Zoological Society
  • Through Tsavo, A Story of an East African Savanna by Schuyler Bull, Illustrated by Paul Kratter
  • Along the Luangwa, A Story of an African Floodplain by Schuyler Bull, Illustrated by Alan Male
  • ZooBooks, San Diego, CA: Wildlife Education, Ltd.
  • seed question attachment
  • African animal habitats
  • Comments

    We are fortunate to live fifteen minutes from the NC Zoo. This plan is an extension of our fall trip to Africa. I hope to adapt the plan for our trip to North America in January and our visit to the Sonora Desert and Aviary in the spring.

    The 21st Century Zoo is a wonderful free resource that could work as a pale substitute for the trip if necessary. I would use pictures gathered from the internet, wildlife calendars and library files for the first chart if this was the case.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Science (2010)
      • Grade 1

        • 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...
      • Kindergarten

        • K.L.1 Compare characteristics of animals that make them alike and different from other animals and nonliving things. K.L.1.1 Compare different types of the same animal (i.e. different types of dogs, different types of cats, etc.) to determine individual differences...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Science (2005)


  • Goal 1: The learner will make observations and build an understanding of similarities and differences in animals.
    • Objective 1.01: Observe and describe the similarities and differences among animals including:
      • Structure.
      • Growth.
      • Changes.
      • Movement.