To introduce my six- and seven-year-old students to the idea of all living things needing to adapt in order to survive, I wanted to provide them with an understanding of what adaptations actually are.
So, to begin with, I asked them to do something a little strange: draw a picture of a cat without using their hands. Instead, they used their teeth, toes or armpits to hold the pens, which was a lot of fun.
After the drawing activity, students walked around the room to look at their classmates' sketches. Then we gathered in a circle to discuss the challenges of the activity and how the children had managed to complete their drawing.
It was then that I introduced the words "adaptation" and "adapt", connecting them to the changes the students had made so that they could complete the task. This really helped them to understand the concept.
Next, I provided the children with pictures of animals that live in forests, water and Arctic habitats, and asked them to sort the selection into the correct categories.
Then we discussed relocating animals from their natural environments to new habitats. The big question was: would they survive? We spent some time discussing what adaptations the animals would need in order for the change of surroundings to be viable. The students draw each animal with the adaptations we had discussed, before showing off their designs to one another.
The children were highly engaged throughout the lesson. During the discussions, they made insightful comments about the challenges of drawing without using their hands and removing animals from their natural habitats.
The lesson helped me to gauge the depth of the students' prior knowledge while getting them excited about developing their understanding of adaptations further.
Della Thigpen teaches at the Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School in the US
Tell us about your best lesson