Honolulu Zoo Society : Survival! Adaptations

A Trip Around the World

Topic Overview

Begin the Lesson

Today we are talking about animal adaptations and how those adaptations are important to helping an animal survive! There are over one million different species of animals and they can look very different from one another.  An adaptation is what we say when an animal has a unique appearance, for example camouflage coloring, different ways of covering their skin like hair, feathers or scales, or perhaps a nose that looks very unique. Think of an elephant and how its long nose looks and what an elephant might use it for. Could you imagine how an elephant would look bending over and eating grass like a zebra? One adaptation of an elephant is how its nose formed and now works like a special hand, picking up anything the elephant might want. An adaptation can also be a behavior, such as a plant's ability to bend to reach sunlight if it's in a partly shaded area.   


Whole Class Introduction to the Lesson

You will need at least one computer with Internet connectivity and a projection device, a classroom with more than one computer, or access to a computer lab.  This introduction will take approximately 10 minutes to complete.

Begin by projecting this video: http://viewpure.com/zNTHVLxPP54 for the whole class. Next project this resource: http://www.nature.org/newsfeatures/specialfeatures/animals/index.htm. Click through the various images on this site; point out the habitats and ask students to think about how the plants and animals for each habitat are adapted to it.

As part of the introduction, you may want to review some of the glossary terms in advance of students going online. At this point you can launch the WebLesson as whole-class activity using a projection device, or you can assign students to work individually or in teams in a computer lab.


WebLesson Sites
Habitats are the places where plants and animals live. Habitats can be anywhere from the freezing glaciers to roasting hot deserts. They can be vast like lush tropical rainforests or they can be as tiny as a stream in your yard. You will find different animals and plants in each habitat. Animals are adapted to survive in their habitats.
Your class has won a trip to visit any habitat in the world. The students in your class will vote on the place that they would like to visit. Find out about the different habitats so that you can vote where you would like to go.
Lesson Pages
Assignment Discovery: Savanna Biomes
Rich Media
Earth Floor: Biomes - Tropical Rainforest
Rich Media
Habitats - Conserving Habitats - WWF
Rich Media
Conclusion & Project
An ecosystem includes all of the living and nonliving things that interact in a particular area. Within an ecosystem, each animal or plant lives in a habitat, which provides for its basic needs, such as food, water, and shelter.

There are very different ecosystems and habitats all over the world. Only certain types of plants and animals can live in a particular habitat. The plants and animals that live in a habitat have adaptations that allow them to survive and thrive in that habitat.
Now that you have learned more about some of the habitats on Earth, where would you most like to visit? What would it look like? What types of plants and animals would you see there? If you could only take one backpack, what would you pack to survive on your own in that habitat? (Remember, on your own means no one to trade with and no place to buy anything.)
adaptation - alteration or adjustment in structure or habits, passed down from parents, that improves an individual's ability to survive in its environment
adapted - to have special features that help plants and animals survive
archipelago - large group of islands
biodiversity - number and variety of organisms found within a specified geographic region
camouflage - coloration or patterns that help conceal or disguise something
canopy - uppermost layer in a forest, formed by the crowns of the trees
climate - weather conditions of a region, (such as temperature, air pressure, humidity, precipitation cloudiness, and winds) averaged over a series of years
desert - dry, often sandy region of little rainfall, extreme temperatures, and sparse vegetation
ecosystem - a biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment
equator - an imaginary line drawn around the earth equally distant from both the north and south poles.
erosion - the wearing away of rocks and other deposits on the earth's surface by the action of water, ice, wind, etc.
evergreen - tree, shrub, or plant having foliage that persists and remains green throughout the year
foliage - plant leaves, especially tree leaves
forest - dense growth of trees, plants, and underbrush covering a large area
habitat - the natural home or environment of an animal, plant, or other organism
hemisphere - either the northern or southern half of the Earth as divided by the equator
isolation - separation
landscape - all of the visible physical features of an area
latitude - angular distance, measured north or south from the equator, of a point on the earth's surface
predator - animal that hunts and kills other animals for food.
rainforest - dense forest found in tropical areas of heavy rainfall
savannah - open grasslands, usually with scattered bushes or trees, characteristic of much of tropical Africa
sparse - thinly scattered or distributed
suited - appropriate for a particular situation
tropical - very hot and humid
understory - underlying layer of vegetation, especially the plants that grow beneath a forest's canopy