Understanding the Animal Kingdom and Adaptations

Students explore the relationship between living things and their environment, and how the environment can impact a species' ability to survive, while referring to the text to ask and answer questions.

Unit Summary

In this unit, students explore the relationship between living things and their environment and how the environment can both positively and negatively impact a species’ ability to survive. Using the Next Generation Science Standards as a guide, students will learn about different species, what they need for survival, their life cycle, and how they have adapted for survival. Then students will be challenged to create arguments that explain why some organisms are able to survive well, some survive less well, and others can’t survive at all in certain habitats. Through this unit, along with others in the sequence, students will use the scientific information they learn to think critically about the world around them. 

The Science of Living Things texts were chosen as mentor texts for this unit because the author, Bobbie Kalman, uses text features and clear language to clearly communicate complex concepts about the animal kingdom, life cycles, and animal adaptations. As readers, students will be challenged to constantly ask and answer questions about key details in the text, explicitly referring to the text to support an answer or a question. Over the course of the unit, students will also deepen their understanding of how Bobbie Kalman uses text features to not only organize information, but to help a reader learn new information and facts about a subject. Students will also work on using context clues to figure out the meaning of genre-specific vocabulary, find the main idea of a section, and explain cause and effect in relation to scientific concepts.

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Unit Launch

Prepare to teach this unit with videos and short readings that cover:

  • Key standards
  • Essential questions
  • Text complexity
  • Monitoring student progress
 

Texts and Materials

Core Materials

Supporting Materials

See Text Selection Rationale

Unit Prep

Essential Questions

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  • What is the animal kingdom? What types of animals make up the animal kingdom? 
  • Why are life cycles important? Are all animal life cycles the same? 
  • What happens to animals in an ecosystem when the environment changes? How have animals adapted to meet changes in the environment? 

Writing Focus Areas

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Sentence-Level Focus Areas

  • Use transition words and phrases in appropriate genres, to illustrate points and show time and sequence
  • Use subordinating conjunctions "since" and "while"

At this point in the year, students should be attempting to use one or more complex sentences in their responses to Target Task questions. In this unit, students learn the subordinating conjunctions "since" and "while." They also learn how to use different transition words depending on the genre of what they’re writing. Some transition words and phrases (for example, for instance, and in particular) are appropriate when illustrating a specific point. Others (first, then, next, etc.) are important when showing time or a sequence of events. 

Paragraph-Level Focus Areas

  • Use a single-paragraph outline to brainstorm cohesive paragraphs
  • Draft topic sentences 
  • Use different strategies to elaborate on supporting details 

In this unit students begin to work on drafting cohesive paragraphs. Students review how to draft strong topic sentences. Then students learn various strategies for elaborating on supporting details. 

Related Teacher Tools:

Speaking and Listening Focus Areas

  • Elaborate to support ideas. Students provide evidence or examples to justify and defend their point clearly. 
  • Use vocabulary. Students use vocabulary that is specific to the subject and task to clarify and share thoughts.
  • Build on partner's ideas. Students seek to genuinely understand what their peers are saying, and then build on. 

In units one and two students worked on clarifying and sharing their on thoughts during a discussion. They worked on providing evidence or examples to justify and defend their point clearly, and using specific vocabulary when sharing their thoughts. In this unit, students move beyond their own reasoning and begin to respond and interact with the reasoning of others. Students are held responsible for listening to and learning from their peers, and begin to refine and clarify their own thinking  based on others' ideas. 

When building on to partner's ideas, students should seek to genuinely understand what their peers are saying and build on. Ideas should not be random, disconnected, or replace a previous idea. Rather, ideas should zoom in on a particular idea that was said, make a connection between a previous idea and a new idea, or challenge a particular part of an idea. Guidance on teacher moves to support these discussion focuses can be found in our Guide to Academic Discourse (below).

Vocabulary

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Below are all of the unit vocabulary words. Prior to teaching the unit, we recommend teachers decide which words to prioritize. We also recommend that teachers decide which affixes to prioritize. See our teacher tool Prepping Unit Vocabulary (below) for more guidance on which words to pick as priority words.

Text-based

adapt adaptation amphibian burrow camouflage carnivore characteristics cold-blooded defense evolution exoskeleton hatchlings invertebrate kingdom life cycle metamorphosis migrate mimicry molt nocturnal offspring omnivore organ prey reproduction reproducing skeleton support vertebrate warm-blooded

Root/Affix

-tion exo- in- re-

Assessment

These assessments accompany this unit to help gauge student understanding of key unit content and skills. Additional progress monitoring suggestions are included throughout the unit.

Lesson Map

1

  • What is the Animal Kingdom? pp. 4 – 7

    RI.3.2

    RI.3.3

    RI.3.7

Explain what the animal kingdom is and the types of living things you might find in the animal kingdom.

2

  • What is the Animal Kingdom? pp. 8 – 11

    RI.3.3

    RI.3.7

Explain what characteristics all simple animals and worms share and how they vary.

3

  • What is the Animal Kingdom? pp. 12 – 15

    RI.3.3

    RI.3.7

    RI.3.8

Explain what characteristics all mollusks and arthropods share and how they vary.

4

Writing

    L.3.1.h

    L.3.1.i

Use subordinating conjunctions to write more interesting and complex sentences.

5

2 days

Writing

  • Invertebrates — Investigation Files

    3-LS4-2

    3-LS4-3

    RI.3.3

    W.3.2

    W.3.2.a

    W.3.2.b

    W.3.7

    W.3.8

Defend if all arthropods are exactly the same and if all arthropods can survive in a variety of habitats.

6

  • What is the Animal Kingdom? pp. 16 – 21

    RI.3.3

    RI.3.7

    RI.3.8

Explain what characteristics all fish and amphibians share and how they vary.

7Essential Task

  • What is the Animal Kingdom? pp. 22 – 27

    RI.3.3

    RI.3.7

    RI.3.8

Explain what characteristics all reptiles, birds, and mammals share and how they vary.

8

Writing

    W.3.1.c

    L.3.2.d

Use transition words to help illustrate certain points or ideas. 

9

2 days

Writing

  • Vertebrates — Investigation Files

    3-LS4-2

    3-LS4-3

    RI.3.3

    W.3.2

    W.3.2.a

    W.3.2.b

    W.3.7

    W.3.8

    L.3.2.d

Defend if all reptiles are exactly the same and if all reptiles can survive in a variety of habitats.

10

Discussion

    SL.3.1

    SL.3.1.a

    SL.3.1.c

Analzye and debate unit essential questions using details and understandings from the text. 

11

  • What is a Life Cycle? — pg. 4-5, 8-9, 10-11, 12-13

    RI.3.3

    RI.3.7

Describe the different stages of a life cycle and why the continuation of a life cycle is important for the survival of a species.

12

Writing

    W.3.1.b

    W.3.1.c

    L.3.2.d

Use transition words to help show time and sequence.

13

Writing

  • What is a Life Cycle? pp. 13 – 14

    W.3.2

    W.3.2.a

    W.3.2.b

    W.3.7

    W.3.8

Describe the stages of a ladybug beetle and frog life cycle.

14Essential Task

  • What is a Life Cycle? — pg. 14-15, 16-17

    RI.3.3

    RI.3.7

    RI.3.8

Explain how amphibian and reptile life cycles are unique and different.

15

  • What is a Life Cycle? — pg. 18-19, 20-21, 22-25

    RI.3.3

    RI.3.7

Explain how fish, bird, and mammal life cycles are unique and different.

16

3 days

Writing

  • Life Cycles — Focus Books

    3-LS1-1

    RI.3.3

    W.3.2

    W.3.2.a

    W.3.2.b

    W.3.7

    W.3.8

    SL.3.1

Compare and contrast the life cycle of two organisms by using information from the text and class presentations to support an idea.

17

Discussion

  • All unit texts

    3-LS4-3

    RI.3.3

    SL.3.1

    SL.3.1.a

    SL.3.1.c

Construct an argument with evidence from the unit to support why some animals can survive well in a desert habitat, others survive less well, and some cannot survive at all.

18

  • How Do Animals Adapt? pp. 4 – 9

    RI.3.3

    RI.3.7

Explain the connection between evolution and adaptation and give an example of how an animal has evolved in order to survive.

19Essential Task

  • How Do Animals Adapt? pp. 10 – 17

    RI.3.3

    RI.3.7

    RI.3.8

Explain how the environment in which an animal lives impacts the way an animal adapts and why different adaptations are needed.

20

  • How Do Animals Adapt? pp. 18 – 23

    RI.3.2

    RI.3.3

Explain how the environment in which an animal lives impacts the way an animal adapts and why different adaptations are needed.

21

  • How Do Animals Adapt? — pg. 24-end

    RI.3.3

    RI.3.7

Explain how the environment in which an animal lives impacts the way an animal adapts and why different adaptations are needed.

22

4 days

Opinion Writing

    3-LS4-3

    3-LS4-4

    W.3.1

    W.3.1.a

    W.3.1.b

    W.3.1.c

    SL.3.1

    L.3.2.d

Design an animal and defend if the animal would or would not survive in a particular environment.

23

Discussion

    SL.3.1

    SL.3.1.a

    SL.3.1.c

Analzye and debate unit essential questions using details and understandings from the text. 

24

Assessment

Common Core Standards

Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity
  • 3-LS4-2 — Use evidence to construct an explanation for how the variations in characteristics among individuals of the same species may provide advantages in surviving, finding mates, and reproducing. Clarification Statement: Examples of cause and effect relationships could be plants that have larger thorns than other plants may be less likely to be eaten by predators; and, animals that have better camouflage coloration than other animals may be more likely to survive and therefore more likely to leave offspring.

  • 3-LS4-3 — Construct an argument with evidence that in a particular habitat some organisms can survive well, some survive less well, and some cannot survive at all. Clarification Statement: Examples of evidence could include needs and characteristics of the organisms and habitats involved. The organisms and their habitat make up a system in which the parts depend on each other.

  • 3-LS4-4 — Make a claim about the merit of a solution to a problem caused when the environment changes and the types of plants and animals that live there may change. Clarification Statement: Examples of environmental changes could include changes in land characteristics, water distribution, temperature, food, and other organisms. Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to a single environmental change. Assessment does not include the greenhouse effect or climate change.

From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
  • 3-LS1-1 — Develop models to describe that organisms have unique and diverse life cycles but all have in common birth, growth, reproduction, and death. Clarification Statement: Changes organisms go through during their life form a pattern. Assessment Boundary: Assessment of plant life cycles is limited to those of flowering plants. Assessment does not include details of human reproduction.

Heredity: Inheritance and Variation of Traits
  • 3-LS3-1 — Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence that plants and animals have traits inherited from parents and that variation of these traits exists in a group of similar organisms. Clarification Statement: Patterns are the similarities and differences in traits shared between offspring and their parents, or among siblings. Emphasis is on organisms other than humans. Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include genetic mechanisms of inheritance and prediction of traits. Assessment is limited to non-human examples.

  • 3-LS3-2 — Use evidence to support the explanation that traits can be influenced by the environment. Clarification Statement: Examples of the environment affecting a trait could include normally tall plants grown with insufficient water are stunted; and, a pet dog that is given too much food and little exercise may become overweight.

Language Standards
  • L.3.1 — Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

  • L.3.1.h — Use coordinating and subordinating conjunctions.

  • L.3.1.i — Produce simple, compound, and complex sentences.

  • L.3.2 — Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

  • L.3.2.d — Form and use possessives.

Reading Standards for Informational Text
  • RI.3.2 — Determine the main idea of a text; recount the key details and explain how they support the main idea.

  • RI.3.3 — Describe the relationship between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text, using language that pertains to time, sequence, and cause/effect.

  • RI.3.7 — Use information gained from illustrations (e.g., maps, photographs) and the words in a text to demonstrate understanding of the text (e.g., where, when, why, and how key events occur).

  • RI.3.8 — Describe the logical connection between particular sentences and paragraphs in a text (e.g., comparison, cause/effect, first/second/third in a sequence).

Speaking and Listening Standards
  • SL.3.1 — Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 3 topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

  • SL.3.1.a — Come to discussions prepared, having read or studied required material; explicitly draw on that preparation and other information known about the topic to explore ideas under discussion.

  • SL.3.1.c — Ask questions to check understanding of information presented, stay on topic, and link their comments to the remarks of others.

Writing Standards
  • W.3.1 — Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons.

  • W.3.1.a — Introduce the topic or text they are writing about, state an opinion, and create an organizational structure that lists reasons.

  • W.3.1.b — Provide reasons that support the opinion.

  • W.3.1.c — Use linking words and phrases (e.g., because, therefore, since, for example) to connect opinion and reasons.

  • W.3.2 — Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

  • W.3.2.a — Introduce a topic and group related information together; include illustrations when useful to aiding comprehension.

  • W.3.2.b — Develop the topic with facts, definitions, and details.

  • W.3.7 — Conduct short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

  • W.3.8 — Recall information from experiences or gather information from print and digital sources; take brief notes on sources and sort evidence into provided categories.

Sprial Standards

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L.3.1

L.3.2

L.3.4

L.3.4.b

L.3.5

L.3.6

RF.3.3

RF.3.4

RI.3.1

RI.3.10

RI.3.4

RI.3.5

SL.3.1

SL.3.1.b

SL.3.3

SL.3.4

SL.3.5

SL.3.6

W.3.10

W.3.4

W.3.5