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


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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • identify characteristics of amphibians
  • integrate reading comprehension with science concepts
  • allow students to respond to literature and apply learned material through artistic expression

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

2 hours


  • Green Wilma by Tedd Arnold
  • large (eleven-by-thirteen-inch) glossy white paper
  • seven-by-seven-inch square tagboard pattern(s)
  • tempera paints
  • paint supplies: brushes, water, paper towels, etc.
  • permanent black markers


Teach students animal classification and characteristics of each class. This lesson focuses on the characteristics of amphibians.


  1. Review the animal classes.
  2. Review the characteristics of amphibians.
  3. Establish a pre-reading task: look for amphibian characteristics during the story.
  4. Read Green Wilma by Tedd Arnold aloud to the class.
  5. Initiate discussion about what happens when a person or pet is missing: flyers around town, newspaper ads, etc. How might flyers or ads be worded? They describe the one who is missing. Examples of actual missing or wanted flyers, posters or ads would be a great supplement for the students.
  6. Make students aware that Wilma’s family must be desperate to find her and your class can help! They are to create missing! posters that will give the reader a visual description of Wilma through a painting and words.
  7. Their missing! posters will be on an eleven-by-thirteen-inch piece of paper (turned vertically) with a seven-by-seven-inch square drawn in black marker on the top half of the paper. You may choose to have the square drawn prior to the lesson or to have enough square patterns available for the students to draw their own. Pre-drawn posters obviously save time in class.
  8. Students’ descriptions should be specific to amphibian characteristics (i.e. cold-blooded, invertebrate, etc.), but can also include specifics from the story. Emphasize the importance of accurate amphibian characteristics and how they may be creatively stated.
  9. After descriptions are listed (in marker) below the square, students may choose a scene from the book to paint in the “missing!” square.
  10. Print “missing!” in large block letters over the square for a final touch.
  11. Allow students to share their work and then display their masterpieces!


Check for accurate amphibian descriptions on posters through peer evaluation or teacher assessment.

Supplemental information


This lesson is a great finale to your amphibian study. Try to find a recording of “frog sounds” to play while your students paint. To encourage quality artwork, ask the students to fill their entire square with color—no empty space. Outlining their paintings with a black permanent marker gives the painting a polished look.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Science (2010)
      • Grade 4

        • 4.L.1 Understand the effects of environmental changes, adaptations and behaviors that enable animals (including humans) to survive in changing habitats. 4.L.1.1 Give examples of changes in an organism’s environment that are beneficial to it and some that...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Science (2005)

Grade 4

  • Goal 1: The learner will make observations and conduct investigations to build an understanding of animal behavior and adaptation.
    • Objective 1.03: Observe and discuss how behaviors and body structures help animals survive in a particular habitat.