Self-Directed Tours-Animal Adaptations

Even though this site is designed to prepare students for a trip to the Milwaukee Zoo, part of that preparation includes information about adaptations, objectives and vocabulary, and pre-visit activities.  Activities to do  during and post-visit are also included.  Information about different animals at the zoo is included that can be used as part of adaptation lessons. Teachers can use this site to build vocabulary and provide information about adaptations.  Lesson plans for activities are described below.  Many Colored Cats- Students learn about camouflage as they identify characteristics of how different cats survive using camouflage.  Riddles are provided for students to guess which cat is being described. Camouflage in the Classroom- The lesson begins with students looking for colored toothpicks (or other appropriate items) to learn how camouflage helps animals to survive.  Students color butterflies so they are camouflaged in the classroom.  Butterfly patterns are provided. Creature Feature Scavenger Hunt and Animal Adaptations at the Zoo-  These activities are designed to be used while visiting the Milwaukee Zoo, but can be used in a classroom as students use different resources to match animals with the different physical features and answer questions about different animals and their adaptations. Fact and Fiction I and Fact and Fiction II- Students compare adaptations for finding food and escaping from predators, write a story describing how an adaptation arose, and create an imaginary creature with adaptations for survival.    

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
GLE 0407.5.1
Analyze physical and behavioral adaptations that enable organisms to survive in their environment.
GLE 0407.T/E.3
Identify appropriate materials, tools, and machines that can extend or enhance the ability to solve a specified problem.
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: 


Section 1:

  • Children will understand what animal adaptations are.
  • Children will be able to explain why animal adaptations are important.
  • Children will be able to explain different types of animal adaptations and how they serve different animals.

Section 4:

  • Children will be able to define camouflage.
  • Children will be able to describe how camouflage helps some cats survive.
  • Children will be able to identify characteristics of different types of cats.

Section 6:

  • Children will be able to define adaptation.
  • Children also will be able to compare mammal adaptations for finding food and escaping from predators.
  • Children will write and illustrate a story describing how a certain mammal adaptation arose

Section 7:

  • Children will be able to define adaptations.
  • Children will be able to create an imaginary animal with real adaptations using their background knowledge of animal adaptations.


Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 

Helpful Hints


Section 4:

  • Copies of cat accordion sheet included Copies of cat poem included Scissors
  • Crayons or markers Reference books
  • Chalkboard or easel paper Pictures of different wild cats
  • One box of assorted toothpicks
  • An outdoor grassy area or large piece of fabric or Astroturf
  • Paper butterfly patterns for each student
  • Butterfly pattern
  • Markers, crayons, or colored pencils
  • Colored toothpicks or paper clips

Section 6:

  • Copy of Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling
  • Copy of "Why the Possum's Tail is Bare" by James Connolly (Ranger Rick, April 1985)
  • Chalkboard or easel paper
  • Paper and pencils
  • Reference books
  • Crayons or markers

Section 6:

  • Stories and illustrations created in Fact and Fiction I
  • Paper
  • Colored crayons, markers, or pencils
  • Pencil or pen
  • Chalkboard or easel paper