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A Fish Out of Water

Encourage students to see how much they really understand about animals and the habitats. This 3-D group project has them create a place for one animal, then comically add a very different animal and predict what issues may arise.

  • Grade 3
    Grade 4
    Grade 5
  • 30 to 60 minutes
  • Directions

    1. Organize students into small groups. Ask each group to select one animal to focus their research on; ensure no two groups have same animal. Encourage them to pool all information they know and learn about their animal and the things it needs from its environment. Provide sufficient time for research to be completed.
    2. Provide groups with a wide variety of supplies such as recycled cardboard & tubes, Crayola Construction Paper and Paper Pads, and utensils such as Crayola Colored Pencils, Pointed-tip Scissors, Crayons and Washable Markers; the Multicultural versions of these instruments should be priority as it will provide them with many different shades of browns and natural colors. No-Run School Glue will also be helpful as a quick-setting adhesive that can be used successfully on a myriad of objects.
    3. Demonstrate sculptural techniques most appropriate to natural things such as cutting slits halfway down a cardboard tube then modifying to emulate a tree trunk with branches. Crumbling paper up and covering with construction paper can represent a rock or cave. Rubbing a crayon piece that has no label onto paper adds subtle changes to the color; adding extra related colors creates shadows and highlights. Folding small pieces of paper and gluing the folded 'tab' to a base or rolling a tube of construction paper various ways helps to create aspects of a natural environment.
    4. Encourage groups to create the most common and appropriate habitat for their selected animals. Each group should look at a photograph as they artistically create the animal so it is most realistic.
    5. As the groups are finishing, instruct them to now think of animals that have very different needs that are fulfilled by their environment. Have each group prepare a presentation where they share the type of environment needed by their animal and how the animal interacts with its environment. All groups share their information.
    6. Next, groups will switch around their animals into unfamiliar environments. Ask them to analyze how successful, or unsuccessful, each animal would be in its new habitat. Specific examples should be cited by each group. Groups discuss and document in writing the ability of their selected animal to adapt to the new environment.
    7. Conclude this activity by having student group post their findings to a blog to share with peers.
  • Standards

    LA: Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and explain how it is conveyed in the text.

    LA: Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.

    LA: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade level topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    SCI: Make observations of plants and animals to compare the diversity of life in different habitats.

    SCI: Construct an argument that some animals form groups that help members survive.

    SCI: Construct an argument with evidence that in a particular habitat some organisms can survive well, some survive less well, and some cannot survive at all.

    SCI: Use a model to describe that animals receive different types of information through their senses, process the information in their brain, and respond to the information in different ways.

    SCI: Develop a model to describe the movement of matter among plants, animals, decomposers and the environment.

    VA: Brainstorm multiple approaches to a creative art or design problem.

    VA: Collaboratively set goals and create meaningful and has purpose to the makers.

    VA: Experiment and develop skills in multiple art-making techniques and approaches through practice.

  • Adaptations

    This lesson could be repeated for each season, where the original group depicts how that environment changes throughout the year. Or if the original environment is in a warm climate, if it were to have the opposite type of weather.

    Focus on weather issues making the news and have the students re-create this environment if that weather severity would affect the area they depicted. Such as a flood or a drought.

    Encourage students to solve a problem that the human race has created for the habitats for either animal.


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