- Students will learn how different animals adapt to their environments.
The animals that live in grasslands have adapted to dry, windy conditions. There are grazing animals (that eat the grass), burrowing animals, and their predators. Insects are abundant. A moderate level of species diversity exists on a grassland. Many animals live in grasslands, from invertebrates (like grasshoppers and beetles) to large mammals (like antelopes and elephants).
- Predator: an animal that lives by killing and eating other animals
A chalkboard and pictures of the animals are helpful, but not necessary.
Ask the children to brainstorm and come up with a list of animals they might see on the grasslands. These could include aardvark, African wildcat, African elephant, antelope, baboon, buffalo, African wild dog, cheetah, giraffe, hartebeest, hippopotamus, hyena, impala, jackal, kudu, leopard, lion, mongoose, oryx, ostrich, rhinoceros, vulture, wildebeest, zebra, and any other animals the children want to add. Write these on the board.
Print out copies of Worksheet 1 - Adaptations Chart, under Resources, and give one to each student.
Try reading this example to the children and see if they can use the information to fill in the blanks on their charts:
Aardvarks have a sleek, dark brown coat, long ears, short legs and strong, sharp, hoof-like claws. Aardvarks are insectivores (insect-eaters) that eat ants and termites. They use their large claws to dig into anthills and termite mounds and then stick their long, sticky, extensile tongue into the nest or mound to get the insects. Aardvarks use their senses of smell and hearing to help locate insects.
Then ask the children to fill in the cheetah section and share that information. Then allow them to choose from the animals you have written on the board for the rest of their chart. Have the children mark those species that eat grass and other types of vegetation. Discuss what makes them different from the other animals in their charts.
- Why do animals adapt differently? (Each makes a living in a different way; each serves a role, and thus each needs to be built differently.)
- How do all of the animals survive in the same environment? (They each need different things to survive. Each species uses the environment differently so they don’t always get in each others’ way.)
- How do cows, sheep and goats co-exist within a family herd? How does this same concept apply to wildlife species in nature?
- How would humans adapt under different conditions? Little water? Little sun? Little heat? Little food or water?
- What happens when an animal is blocked off from something it needs to survive?
- How quickly do adaptations take place? Could animals become extinct if they can’t get what they need to live?
Read the story How the Leopard Got His Spots, adapted from Rudyard Kipling (see Worksheet 2 under Resources). Then allow students to tell stories orally or write stories they have made up explaining how an animal may have been created. The idea isn’t to come up with a real scenario, but to have fun with an adaptation. They could tell a story of an anteater whose tongue was stretched by another animal. They could write about a Grevy’s zebra who was all white and fell into a mud puddle and decided to keep the stripes.