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


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  • Animals undercover: Students will learn about the different animal coverings using the inquiry method. They will learn about how the covering is used for protection and to control body temperatures.
  • Birds by inquiry: Students will make observations of bird pictures to note the similarities and differences in one animal group. They will note especially the beaks, feet, wings and feathers of different types of birds. The life cycle of birds will be explored.
  • An integrated lesson comparing the butterfly and frog life cycles: Students will build on their prior knowledge about the butterfly life cycle to compare and contrast the life cycles of butterflies and frogs. Students will locate butterflies on the school grounds and create pictographs and models of fractions to explain their findings mathematically. Students will also use a variety of resources to read about and study the food, space and air needed by butterflies and frogs to grow. They will create visual and written products to demonstrate their findings.

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Learning outcomes

Students should identify body parts in various animals, and their functions in movement and eating. They will observe and describe, compare, sort and classify, count, and write about them. There will be opportunity for movement activities and artistic expression.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

5 days


  • animal pictures
  • chart paper and marker
  • index cards, and animal pictures to put on them
  • drawing paper and crayons or other drawing materials
  • paint and brushes
  • large sheets of green and blue butcher paper
  • graham crackers, white frosting, animal crackers, chocolate syrup

Technology resources

  • overhead projector
  • computer
  • Kid Pix Studio Deluxe
  • web access


Students should have been introduced to the animal groups of bird, fish, mammal, insect and reptile.


The following centers will be completed over the week.


  • Have the children look at the pictures and determine how many legs each animal has.
  • Have the children sort the animal pictures according to the number of legs each animal has.
  • The children will write the numeral that tells how many legs the animals in each group have on an index card.
  • Have them order the groups by the number of legs.


  • Animal picture cards needed—students could make their own from magazine pictures or from pictures that can be found on the “Enchanted Learning” website.
  • Place the animal cards face down in a pile. One player chooses a card, keeping the animal’s identity a secret. The player then acts out the animal’s movement. The other players try to guess the animal. If no one guesses, the player may choose a helper to help give clues. The player who guesses correctly takes a card from the pile and the game continues.


  • Have the children draw a picture of a kind of bird. Compile the pictures into a class book. Stack the pictures upside down so that children must turn the page to see each picture. On the back of each picture, write: “Who has a beak? Take a peek.”
  • Turn the page and write the following below the picture: A ________ is a bird. A ________ has a beak! Be sure to put the name of the bird in the blank.


Ahead of time make a template, using KidPix Deluxe software. Divide the page into four sections. Label each section walk or run; fly; swim; hop, leap, or jump. Have students stamp animals into each quadrant that fits the categories.

Kindergarten Cafe

Cover half of a graham cracker with white frosting. Place animal cracker on graham cracker. Make vertical lines by drizzling with chocolate syrup to create the appearance of an animal in a zoo scene. Children may eat their zoo animal.


Using colored butcher paper make a background scene representing sky, land, water. Have each student choose an animal or bird. They draw or paint a picture of that animal showing how that animal moves or eats. After cutting out their picture, the child may put it on the correct place on the background paper.

Day One

  1. Present pictures of a variety of animals to the children. Ask them to tell you about the pictures. Ask what they see, and record their responses. An overhead projector might work well in this function.
  2. When you have recorded several observations, ask the children to look for body parts in the pictures.
  3. On a chart paper make a circle in the center. Write the words “body parts” in the circle. Around the outside of the chart paper, make another large circle, thus creating a circle map. Inside the outer circle, write the body parts that the children name from their observations.

Day Two

  1. Begin discussion by asking children how they move. Questions used to stimulate discussion might include these:

    • How do you move inside?
    • How do you move on the playground?
    • How do you move at the pool?
    • How did you move as a baby?
    • What body parts do you use to move in these ways?
  2. Show the children a variety of animal pictures. Be sure to use animals that move in various ways. Ask them to tell you how these animals move. Make a circle graph on a chart paper, and in the center circle write “animal movement.” In the outer circle, write the children’s observations about the animals’ movements.
  3. Ask the children what body parts the animals are using to enact these movements. The related center activity asks the children to classify animals by whether they walk/run, fly, swim, or hop/leap/jump. Ask them whether the animals move in water, or on land, or in the air. They will use this information in another center activity.

Day Three

  1. Begin discussion by asking the children what body parts they use to eat. Stimulate their thinking by asking how they eat these kinds of food:

    • a milkshake (sucking through a straw)
    • corn on the cob (front teeth)
    • chewing gum (back teeth)
    • a glass of milk (drinking through lips)
    • an ice cream cone (licking with tongue)
    • hard candy (sucking in mouth)
  2. Show children a variety of animal pictures, being sure to include animals that use many different types of body parts for eating. These animals are a few options:
    • elephant
    • hummingbird
    • parrot
    • bear
    • fish
    • frog
    • butterfly
    • giraffe
    • wolf
    • cat
    • snake
    • alligator

Day Four

  1. Review the children’s prior knowledge of animal groups. Use charts or pictures as available.
  2. Make a tree map as follows. On a piece of chart paper, draw a line horizontal to the top, about four inches from the top of the paper. Divide it into about four sections. In each section, write the name of one group of animals: fish, birds, mammals, insects, or reptiles. You may choose to use all or some of these groups. Show the children pictures of animals, being sure that there are animals from as many of the groups as you include in your tree map.
  3. Ask them to sort the pictures by animal group. Then identify body parts of the animals in each group. List the body parts common to each group on the tree map.

Day Five

  1. Give each child a piece of paper and drawing materials. Ask them to draw an animal. Tell them to be sure to include the body parts on their animal that allow the animal to move and eat.
  2. At the top of the paper, ask each child to write the sounds he or she hears when saying the name of the animal, producing an invented spelling of the animal name. After children are finished with their drawings, ask them to tell you about the animal they drew. This can be used to help in your assessment of their understanding of these concepts.


  • Teacher observation of participation in group activities
  • Center work samples
  • Children’s drawings
  • Look for body parts used in movement and eating
  • Notes made as children describe their animal drawings will be helpful

Supplemental information

  • Harcourt Science, teacher’s edition—kindergarten
  • I Can’t Get My Turtle to Move by Elizabeth Lee O’Donnell
  • Paws and Claws (Head to Tail) by Theresa Greenaway and Ann Savage
  • Beaks and Noses (Head to Tail) by Theresa Greenaway and Ann Savage
  • Picture Reference Animals by Janine Amos
  • Peck and Slither and Slide by Suse McDonald
  • Puffins Climb, Penguins Rhyme by Bruce McMillan


  • “The Little Turtle,” by Bachel Lindsay
  • “Here We Go”

(Both of these can be found in the Harcourt Science, teacher’s edition—kindergarten)


  • “The Big Zoo” ASIN6303924662


This plan is one of three units created by Anne Allen and Anne Ellis using the inquiry method to study animals: Animals Undercover, Animals Movin’ On Up and Birds by Inquiry. They may be used together or individually.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • Mathematics (2010)
      • Kindergarten

        • Measurement & Data
          • K.MD.1Describe measurable attributes of objects, such as length or weight. Describe several measurable attributes of a single object.
          • K.MD.2Directly compare two objects with a measurable attribute in common, to see which object has “more of”/“less of” the attribute, and describe the difference. For example, directly compare the heights of two children and describe one child as taller/shorter.

    • North Carolina Essential Standards
      • Science (2010)
        • 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

Mathematics (2004)


  • Goal 5: Algebra - The learner will model simple patterns and sort objects.
    • Objective 5.01: Sort and classify objects by one attribute.

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.