Dirtmeister: Investigate and Report on Animal Adaptations

Students are lead through the process of investigating, observing, recording and  reporting on an animal and its adaptations.  Questions and observation and reporting templates are provided.  Students choose an animal to observe/research and record observations in order to write a report on its adaptations.  They are taken through a step-by-step process with guidance through questions, templates, and sample reports.   Before students begin their work, general adaptation information is provided.  Because of the step-by-step process, this is a good activity for students who are not use to writing reports.    

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
GLE 0407.5.1
Analyze physical and behavioral adaptations that enable organisms to survive in their environment.
Alignment of this item to academic standards is based on recommendations from content creators, resource curators, and visitors to this website. It is the responsibility of each educator to verify that the materials are appropriate for your content area, aligned to current academic standards, and will be beneficial to your specific students.
Learning objectives: 

Learning Objectives

Through participation in "Dirtmeister's Science Reporters," students will: 

  • Explore, observe, and describe the world around them.
  • Identify various phenomena in the real world.
  • Investigate materials, organisms, and properties of common objects.
  • Construct explanations of natural and man-made phenomena.
  • Develop the ability to ask scientific questions, investigate aspects of the world around them, and use their observations to construct reasonable explanations for the questions posed.
  • Ask questions about objects, organisms, and events in the environment.
  • Use data to construct a reasonable explanation.
  • Communicate their ideas to others.
  • Develop their science knowledge.
  • Learn through the inquiry process how to communicate their own investigations.

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Extension suggestions: 


  • Here are some suggestions to enhance the experience of Dirtmeister's Science Reporters for your students:
  • Have the class list all of the different animals that they can encounter in and around their local environment. What are various adaptations for each of these animals?
  • Have students describe how they adapt to different changes in their environment. How do we change for the weather and seasons? How do different explorers adapt to hostile environments?
  • Have students focus on how humans have "borrowed" adaptations from other animals. When we go in the water, how are we like a shark? (swim fins) When we travel to very cold climates, how are we like a polar bear? (fur parka)
  • Have students create their own Animorph story. Have the main character travel to different environments and "morph" to fit the conditions.
  • Have students "design a creature" that fits an unusual environment. For example, how could a creature survive on Venus with its poison atmosphere and searing heat? What about in a volcano? What special adaptations would it need?
  • Talk with your school librarian or media specialist about researching animals in the library, including books and multimedia resources. (See "Resources" section below.)
  • Have the class use the computer to search the Web for supplementary articles on animals and their habitats and adaptations.
  • Provide space on a classroom bulletin board for the Dirtmeister's Science Observer.
  • Using computer software such as ClarisWorks™ or Microsoft Works™, have students create and maintain electronic science journals. Encourage students to illustrate their work by using the software's drawing or painting features. This is an excellent way of keeping notes and storing reports for future use.

Helpful Hints


The following Scholastic supplemental materials can be used in conjunction with Dirtmeister's Science Reporters:

  • Big Books: Science (Grades K–4). This book series covers a variety of topics, from bugs to wind. They are brightly illustrated and great for the classroom library.
  • Environmental Atlas of the United States, by Mark Mattson (Grade Levels 4 and up). The only environmental atlas for young readers that emphasizes U.S. ecological information.
  • Be a Scientist skills books (Grades 3–6). This series includes featured scientists, hands-on activities, and an emphasis on practical process skills. The series consists of three sets of three books each for grades 3–4, 4–5, and 5–6.
  • Super Science (Grades 3–6). Super Science covers science news and classroom-tested experiments for extending the learning experience of science concepts and integrates science with reading, math, language arts, and social studies objectives already in the classroom curriculum.
  • Quick and Easy Learning Centers: Science, by Lynne Kepler (Grades 1–3). This Professional Resource book focuses on the use of everyday materials to promote independent, hands-on learning. Information on how-tos, management, experiments, and reproducibles are included in this helpful book.