Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Design an Animal

Hala Bessyoune


Students perform a lab activity in which they design an animal to live in a specific environment taking into account all aspects of that particular environment.


The student understands the mechanisms of change (e.g., mutation and natural selection) that lead to adaptations in a species and their ability to survive naturally in changing conditions and to increase species diversity.


-Metric ruler
-Modeling clay of various colors
-Lab directions (see associated file)
-Data table


1. Read over procedure
2. Assemble the materials needed for the activity.
3. Print direction/data table sheets. You may choose to print one copy for each student or one copy for each group.
4. Make a model for demonstration.


1. Introduce the lab activity to your students by reviewing the following points:
The diversity of organisms is staggering. All organisms have important characteristics which enable them to survive in their particular environments. Each animal must have certain adaptations, in terms of anatomy and behavior, that are suited to its environment in order to survive in that environment.

2. Divide your students into groups of four. You might try to divide the class into an equal number of groups for #9 of this procedure.

3. Tell the groups to select an environment from the following options:
a. desert
b. tropical rain forest
c. fresh water ponds
d. deep ocean

4. Tell the groups to brainstorm within each group to determine the characteristics that an animal will need to survive in the environment they selected.

5. Tell the groups to design their animals and make sketches of them.

6. Tell the groups to name their animals and classify them in the appropriate phyla.

7. Tell the groups to make models of their animals by using colored clay and the other materials they have.

8. Tell the groups to record the following points in their data tables:
a. environment
b. animal's name
c. animal's phylum
d. animal's adaptations
e. animal's behavior

9. Tell the groups to display their models to one other group. (This works very well if you have divided your class into an even number of groups.) Each group will have an opportunity to determine the environment of another group's animal and will see if another group can determine their animal's environment as well.


Assessment is made in four areas:
1. The student's level of participation as assessed by the teacher during the activity.
2. The completed activity sheet that includes a data table and summary.
3. The model made during the activity assessed by the teacher during the process of the activity.
4. The ability of each group to 'guess' the correct environment of another group's animal as well as each group's ability to create an animal that another group guessed the environment correctly.


This lesson can be accomplished with elementary school classes by following the same procedure that is listed in the attached file with elimination of the technical atributes such as naming phyla.
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