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Animal Unit - Help Needed



I am a student teacher in a 2nd grade classroom. I need to develop a unit about the classification of animals. I was thinking of breaking it down into five categories: mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians. Does anybody who has done such a unit in the past have any suggestions and/or resources on how to proceed?

My co-op suggested that I have the kids cut out pictures of animals that fit the various categories in old magazines. But I don't have any old magazines, nor do I know where I could find some. Are there any other activities to do to spice up my lessons? I will have two 40-minute sessions a week for approximately five weeks.

Also, I would love to invite a special guest (or guests) into the classroom who could bring in examples of animals that fit these categories. I was thinking of a large snake and/or a talking parrot from a pet store. Do pet stores do that kind of thing? If not, who does? (It has to be really cheap though, because I don't have a lot of money.)


Mrs. O

Senior Member
When I did this unit with my class. I broke it into Biomes and covered Arctic, Dessert, Rainforest and Ocean. We started each week with a KWL Chart. I covered a few animals in each category. We did comparisions between the different types of habitats. We covered map skills. We also focused on plant life and products we use from each area. We wrote poetry and talked about similies during the desert portion (desert not dessert).

Can you ask parents to send in old magazines? Your library might be willing to donate old magazine or sell them at a reduced price. You could also ask parents if they know anyone with an unusual pet that they could bring in for a show and tell.

I contacted our local head of the Beekeepers Association when I covered a unit on bees, and they sent someone out free of charge. We are in a semi-rural area and there are some area places that teach about animals. They are usually willing to come out, but I am not sure how much they charge. When they come it is for the whole school, and the school pays for it. Our Zoo also has boxes that you can borrow with a refundable deposit. Before you bring in any animals, you need to check with your school on their policy for that sort of thing.

I usually use www.abcteach.com for some worksheets to go with units, but there are many sites out there too. www.enchantedlearning.com is another resource that is very good.

Good luck and have fun!


Senior Member
animal unit

Does your state have a Dept of Natural Resources(DNR)? They usually have lots of materials for kids. Is there a state park in your area? They usually have a naturalist who will do programs on animals. Are you in a city or rural area? There may be a museum or zoo that could help you out. Our state university has an outreach program on insects. There are lots of resources. Sometimes you just have to look.

Some of the things I've done in my second grade classroom is to experiment with how well snails can see. They are in the mollusk group. You have a pair of glasses made out of oaktag, and for the lenses you use wax paper. That's always fun.

To see how animals see and hunt for prey you can also use the glasses frame and put red cellophane in them. Then scatter colored noodles in a roped off grassy area and have them find them. The trick is to only put out so many of one color, like 6 of the green, 6 orange, etc. Then see how many you can find. You hardly ever find them all. Good lesson on camouflage and using all your senses, also putting yourself in the animals' place and seeing how hard it is to hunt for food.

We've also done how animals find each other. Put different items like pennies, paper clips, popcorn seeds, etc. in film containers (2 of each) and they have to find their just by listening to the sounds of the containers.

These are just some ideas that I've used over the years. Hope they helped.:s)


Senior Member
Animals unit

Go on line and get pictures and clip art of varrious vertebrate categories. Ofteh Enchanted Learning has parts of papers (eg parts of the fish). Fish make a great print. Get one from a local meat store. Don't grow tadpoles (we've had some from november that have not even started growing). Do frog life cycles though. I am getting eggs on Feb. 27 that will hatch ducks in three days. Easy to do iwth an aquarium and light. Our zoo will bring in animals. I like the post about the DNR our park district will do it too. We have a local reptile dealer who will bring in reptiles. Children have turtles and snakes as pets as well.
Animals are a great unit. Our grade does a different vertibrate about each month we start with fish then amphibians, reptiles (dinosaurs), birds and Mammals (humans as well). The end of the year we have insects.


New Member

I have a suggestion for bringing in a guest speaker-ask a parent or one of the children if they have a dog or a cat (or any other animals-I was surprised to learn that one of my 3rd graders has 33 pets!!) in their house and have them bring him/ her in--Probably FREE! :) And I bet the kids would love to show off their pet(s). Good Luck!


Senior Member

Use the acronym
MR. FAB (mammals, reptile, fish, amphibians, and birds)
I have kids that are in high school now that still tell me they remember the acrornym.


Senior Member
animal classification

I do a unit on habitats, because that fits the standards in Ohio better for 2nd grade than animal classification. However, I was thinking that when I culminate the unit we go to the zoo. That would fit with your unit as well. One project that i have students do is to make a habitat in a shoe box. They can color, use internet pictures, construction paper, play dough animals....etc to create a scene with the animal they picked in their environment. I have them write a paragraph on how they made the project and find at least 5 facts about the animal in their habitat.
you could also incorporate the food chain in your unit as that will have more than one classification of animal in it.
Hope that gives you some ideas.


New Member
Venn Diagrams

We are on our animal unit in science right now. We make a Venn Diagram to compare and contrast reptiles and amphibians. For fish we write "fishy facts." Which are facts the students have learned about fish. We do something extra like this with each animal group.


Junior Member
Animal Classification

I do the same unit as you are planning to do. I have broken my animal study in fish, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, birds and insects. We do many things in each unit, I will try to hightlight some of the activities we do for each unit.

Introduction to Animals - I have the students make an animal collage with old magazines (I ask the office to put into the school's newsletter the need for old Ranger Rick and Your Big Backyard, I always get a great response). Once the collage is finish we discuss and answer the following question "How are all animals alike?". We make a list of all answers then we go through and narrow it down to:

- all animals have a body covering
- all animals reproduce their kind
- all animals move
- all animals need food
- all animals need oxygen
- all animals need a habitat/home

This is the basis for our study of each animal group.

Animal Project
Fish We turn the hallway into an aquarium. I cover the
walls with blue paper and the students make/color
all kinds of fish (we do not use whales/dolphins).
The students then have an at home project - they
are responsible to make a fish mobile that will be
hung from the hallway ceiling. The fish has to be
symmetical and it has to show evidence of gills,
scales, fins, tail, eyes and mouth. This is great!!
The creativity always amazes me. One year I had
a student dye elbow noodles orange and then use
them as scales. What a Fish!

Mammals We do two projects for mammals. The first
project is a classroom A to Z Mammal Book. The
students are required to draw/color/add habitat
for each of their letters. They are also required to
write a complete sentence about the mammal.
We then compile the book and share it with the
preschool, kindergarden, and first grades. The
second project is also an at home project. The
student is required to make a mammal diorama
with a corresponding report about the animal.

Reptiles We do an in school project for reptiles. We use
clay to make the snakes body. The students
then use seeds and beans to make design on the
snake. Hint: be sure to have the students dip
the seeds and beans into glue before pushing
them into the clay.

Amphibians We do an in school project for amphibians. We
make frog masks out of paper plates,
constructions paper, wiggly eyes and party

After the reptile and amphibian lessons, I have the local pet store bring into the classroom reptiles and amphibians. Great Stuff!

Birds This is an at home project. We study nests
during this unit. The students build nests using
things that a real bird would use. We then color
birds to put on the nest.

Insects The project for this unit is a Crazy Insect Flip
Book. The students put together their flip book
by lining up the head, thorax and adbomen on
premade pages. They are required to make at
least 10 pages for the book. They then cut the
pages carefully (do not cut the pages apart) so
that each part can be flipped and many crazy
insects will be created.

The closes zoo/aquarium to my school is two-three hours away so we do
not have an opportunity to make a visit, but I do use lots of videos and utilize the university in town to do some field trips and quest speakers.

I hope this is helpful. I love this unit and the kids do too.


Great Idea! I tried to make my students remember by thinking alphabetically but I think this will be more helpful. :-)