Curriculum - Special Needs - Lesson plan Animal magic

23rd April 2010 at 01:00
Secondary Give pupils a chance to see life at the zoo and get to know the animals' habits, food and creature comforts through games, discussion, research and role-play

What the lesson is about

This is the first in a series of four PSHE lessons aimed at Year 7 pupils, based around a zoo. It is particularly useful for pupils with moderate learning difficulties.


  • Pupils can demonstrate understanding of a zoo and particular animals.
  • They can develop a character.
  • Children can communicate with fellow group members.
  • They can design and be creative.
  • Pupils can develop social skills.
    • Getting started

      Introduce the zoo topic and explain to the class what they will be thinking about over the coming few weeks.

      As an ice-breaker, sit the children in a large circle with one pupil in the middle without a chair. Label the pupils as one of three zoo animals - for example, monkey, lion and elephant. The child in the middle calls out the name of an animal, and everyone with that name must find another chair at the same time as the person in the middle.

      Next, begin a discussion about a zoo. Have any of the children ever been to one? Ask them about their experiences. Talk about your experiences of going to a zoo. Discuss recent news stories connected with zoos, such as animals being born. Ask the children what their favourite animals are.

      Ask them about some of the things they can see at a zoo, apart from animals, such as toilets, shops, bins and benches. Make a list on a whiteboard.

      In groups of three or four, ask the children to design a zoo. Get them to think about where they would house the different animals and where they would put the cafe, toilets and so on.

      Invite each group to present their ideas, and give pupils the opportunity to add details to their plans or remove or change items around. Talk about what they have done. For homework, ask each pupil to look at a different animal and try to find relevant drawings and newspaper cuttings.

      Taking it further

      In future weeks, ask children to pick an animal. Play musical chairs, but ask the pupils to move in the way their chosen animals would, including their facial expressions and the noises they make. Ask them to draw their chosen animal and list its characteristics, such as likes and dislikes and favourite food. Get them to play its character in a scenario, such as staff and customers in a fast-food restaurant.

      In week three, look at the role of the zookeeper and ask the children to make masks of their chosen animal. In the last week, set them the task of devising and rehearsing a performance in their animal characters.

      Where to find it

      The lesson plan, including starters and games, was uploaded by Kath7770 and can be found at

      Further reading

      Visit zoo websites for plans and facilities to use as a template, such as Chester Zoo: or London Zoo:

      Related special needs content from this week's issue


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