Skip Discover Education Main Navigation

Lesson Plans Library 6-8 > Ecology
Frozen Seas image
Blue Planet: Frozen Seas
Grade level: 6-8 Subject: Ecology Duration: Two or three class periods
 


lesson plan support

Buy this video
View discussion
questions
• Watch a video clip



Objectives
Students will
  • research the behavioral and physical adaptations of an animal from the Arctic or Antarctic; and
  • create a poster and make a presentation about the animal.
Materials
  • Computer with Internet access
  • Print resources about the Arctic and Antarctic (See procedure #7.)
  • Poster board and construction paper
  • Paint, pens, markers
Procedures
  1. As a class, review the differences between the Arctic and Antarctic. On the board, create a list of the differences, as in the table below.
     
    ARCTIC ANTARCTIC
    Region near the North Pole Region near the South Pole
    Ocean (covered with ice) Continent (covered with ice)
    Cold, dry, windy climate Colder, windier, and drier than the Arctic

     
  2. Ask students to give examples of Arctic and Antarctic animals featured in the video. Add these animals to the list, putting them in the correct geographic location.
     
    ARCTIC ANTARCTIC
    Animals in the video: walrus, bowhead whale, beluga whale, polar bear, harp seal, hooded seal, ringed seal, arctic cod, beluga whale, narwhal, copepods, walrus, soft-shell clam Animals in the video: seal, emperor penguin, chinstrap penguin, minke whale, humpback whale, fur seal, leopard seal, Weddell seal, krill

     
  3. Discuss conditions of the polar habitats that make survival difficult. Examples:

    • extreme cold
    • prey often scarce
    • fierce predators
    • ice cover for much of the year
    • darkness during much of year

  4. Explain to students that they will research one animal from the Arctic or Antarctic. Their research should focus on behavioral or physical adaptations that help the animal survive in its extreme climate. Before students get started, define, review, and give examples of the following terms with them.

    • adaptation: A trait or modification that helps a plant or animal fit in and survive in its environment. Example: Giraffes have long necks to reach the leaves in the tall trees on the savanna.
    • behavioral adaptation: The particular behavior of an animal-such as the way it feeds, mates, breeds, or migrates-that helps it survive in the unique conditions of its environment. Example: Birds fly south in the winter because they can find more food.
    • physical adaptation: A characteristic or modification in an animal's body that helps it survive in its habitat. Example: A male peacock's bright feathers help it attract a mate.

  5. Tell students they will work in pairs. Each pair will choose one Arctic or Antarctic animal, either from the video or from their research. After finishing their research, each pair will create a large diagram of their animal on poster board and give a brief presentation to the class.
     
  6. Students should include the information below.

    • Name of animal
    • Size (length or height and weight; give a range)
    • Habitat and Distribution
    • Diet or prey
    • Main predators
    • Physical adaptations (Explain how each helps the animal survive.)
    • Behavioral adaptations (Explain how each helps the animal survive.)

  7. Have students use print and Internet resources in their research. These Web sites may be helpful:

  8. The students should create large, colorful diagrams of their animals on poster board that label the animal's physical adaptations and include brief explanations of how each adaptation helps the animal survive. Somewhere on the diagram, students must list and briefly describe the animal's behavioral adaptations.
     
  9. Have pairs present their posters to the class, sharing as much information as possible in a five-minute period.
     
  10. Display the posters in one area of the classroom. Have the class decide on a title for this exhibit.

Back to Top

Evaluation
Use the following three-point rubric to evaluate students' work during this lesson.
  • Three points:Students were highly engaged in class discussions; created a clear, detailed poster of their animal with plentiful information on both physical and behavioral adaptations; and actively contributed to the presentation to the class.
  • Two points:Students participated somewhat in class discussions; created a mostly accurate poster of their animal that included information on some physical and behavioral adaptations; and contributed somewhat the presentation to the class.
  • One point:Students participated minimally in class discussions; created a poster that included information on few, if any, adaptations; and did not work cooperatively in or contribute adequately to the presentation to the class.

Back to Top

Vocabulary
adaptation
Definition:A trait or modification that helps a plant or animal survive in its environment
Context:Camels have many adaptations for life in the desert, including long eyelashes that protect their eyes from blowing sand.

behavioral adaptation
Definition:The particular behavior of an animal-such as the way it feeds, mates, breeds, or migrates-that helps it survive in the unique conditions of its environment
Context:Hibernation is a behavioral adaptation that helps some animals survive the winter, when food supplies are low.

blubber
Definition:A thick layer of fat on the bodies of large sea mammals that insulates them from cold and stores energy
Context:Whales, walruses, seals, and other arctic marine animals have a layer of blubber.

camouflage
Definition:Special coloring or marks that help an animal blend into its habitat, disguising it from predators or prey
Context:Its spotted coat is the cheetah's camouflage as it stalks prey on the African savanna.

migration
Definition:The movement of animals from one region or climate to another for breeding or in search of food or shelter
Context:Most migrations occur on an annual basis according to the changing seasons.

physical adaptation
Definition:A characteristic or modification in an animal's body that helps it survive in its habitat
Context:Sharks have sharp teeth, a physical adaptation that makes them fierce predators.

Back to Top

Standards
This lesson plan addresses the following standards from the National Science Education Standards:
  • Structure and function in living systems
  • Regulation and behavior
  • Populations and ecosystems
  • Diversity and adaptations of organisms

Back to Top

Credits
Joy Brewster, freelance curriculum writer, editor, and consultant

Back to Top