Backyard Animal Adaptations





Name of Activity

Backyard Animal Adaptations


Emily Ryan


animal adaptations, environments, design, build, unique, animal, animals, found materials, adapt, modeling


Non-LEGO, LEGO Building

Grade Level

K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6


1 Hour Total

Brief Description

Students will look atanimal adaptations and then design and build their own unique animal that could live in their backyard.

Lesson Objectives:

To teach students about animals and why they have certain adaptations for

particular environments.

To teach students to design and build a model based on particular constraints.

Materials Needed:

pipe cleaners






popsicle sticks

any other available building materials

LEGOs (optional)

Preparation and Set Up:

Gather an assortment of building materials.

Collect some research on animals and their adaptations.

Pictures of an environment that the animals need to adapt to.

If desired, break students into groups of 2 – 4.

Distribute materials to students.

Necessary Background

Animals adapt to their environment in many different ways. The most evident adaptation

is color and texture. Camouflage is used by many animals to protect themselves from

predators. Some examples include tree frogs, polar bears, and iguanas. Animals may also

be colored to make them appear to be something they are not. Moths and butterflies

often have coloration that makes their wings look like eyes. Animals also adapt to their

environment. Giraffes developed long necks to allow them to reach food at the tops

of trees. Arctic foxes have snow white coats during the winter which they shed to

reveal a light brown coat for the summer monthsVocabulary:





  1. Introduce animal adaptations to students, giving examples of familiar and unfamiliar animals that have different adaptations that help them live in a particular environment.
    1. The attached PDF can be used to present info on animal adaptations to students

  • Tell students that their backyards have a certain environment.
    1. Have students brainstorm some aspects of their backyard environments including:
      1. Space.
      2. Available foods.
      3. Places to make a home.
      4. Year round temperature.
      5. Dangers (pets/cars/people)

  • If time, let students draw a picture of their backyard.
  • Distribute building materials and tell students to build a model of an animal that might live in their backyard. Tell the students to build the animal with adaptations for the environment in their backyard.
  • At the end of class, have students or student groups present their animal to the class.
    1. Students should mention the adaptations that the animal has.
    2. Students should explain how their animal moves, behaves, what it eats, where it lives, etc.

    Attached PDF

    2 comments on this post.
    1. Kenneth Westerman:

      Used this lesson on 9/26/13 with 4th grade class at the Healey School. Students seemed interested in the idea of animal adaptations, but could not figure out how to make structures of any complexity using only pieces from the NXT kit.

    2. Laura Fradin:

      We used this lesson as a spring board for our final project in an animal adaptations unit in a 5th grade classroom at JQS. We had previously discussed the adaptations and animal would need to live in certain habitats and defend itself. We gave the students parameters in which the animal would need to survive. Example shown below (at lease one thing from each category was circled for the kids).

      This animal lives in the:

      What are some adaptations it will need to survive in this habitat?

      This animal must be able to:

      This animal will defend itself with:
      crypsis (camouflage, mimicry, countershading, warning coloration, breaking the contour, etc.)
      chemical repellents

      This animal is:
      a predator

      The students seemed to really enjoy the idea of creating their own animal. They used their science knowledge to create an animal that would be able to survive. However, they often deviated from their planning and made it much more of a crafts project than an engineering design project. Overall a good activity.

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