Author: Emily Ryan
Time: 1 one-hour class period
Description: This activity explores animal's adaptations to their environments. Students will look at 
animal adaptations and then design and build their own unique animal that could live
in their backyard.
Grade Level:* 4-6

  1. Tell students that their backyards have a certain environment.
    1. Have students brainstorm some aspects of their backyard environments
      1. Space.
      2. Available foods.
      3. Places to make a home.
      4. Year round temperature.
      5. Dangers (pets/cars/people)
    2. If time, let students draw a picture of their backyard.
  2. Distribute building materials and tell students to build a model of an animal that
    might live in their backyard. Tell the students to build the animal with 
    adaptations for the environment in their backyard. 
  3. At the end of class, have students or student groups present their animal 
    to the class.
    1. Students should mention the adaptations that the animal has.
    2. Students should explain how their animal moves, behaves, what 
      it eats, where it lives, etc.
      Curriculum Standards:
      This activity meets the Massachusetts Frameworks Learning Standards for Life Science:

Grades K - 2

1. Recognize that animals and plants are living things that grow, reproduce, and need 
food air, and water.

6. Recognize that people and other animals interact with the environment through 
their sense of sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. 

8. Identify the ways in which an organism's habitat provides for its basic needs.

Grades 3 - 5

6. Give examples of how inherited characteristics may change over time as adaptations 
to changes in the environment that enable organisms to survive, e.g., shape of beak 
or feet, placement of eyes on head, length of neck, shape of teeth, color.

10. Give examples of how organisms can cause changes in their environment to ensure 
survival. Explain how some of these changes may affect the ecosystem. 

This activity meets the Massachusetts Frameworks Learning Standards for 
Technology and Engineering:

Grades K - 2

 1.2 identify and explain some possible uses for natural materials (e.g., wood, 
cotton, fur, wool) and human-made materials

2.2 Describe how human beings use parts of the body as tools, and compare their 
use with the ways in which animals use those parts of their bodies.

Grades 3 - 5

2.1 Identify a problem that reflects the need for shelter, storage, or convenience.

2.4 Compare natural systems with mechanical systems that are designed to serve 
similar purposes, e.g., a bird's wings as compared to an airplane's wings. 



Assessment:* Student presentations