SURVIVAL UNDER A ROCK
Students are introduced to ways that animals adapt to their
environments, including camouflage, structural adaptations and behavioral
adaptations. They also learn methods of experimenting and collecting meaningful
data by observing living organisms called isopods. (Isopods are the little
grey bugs that are commonly known as pill bugs, potato bugs, sow bugs, rollie
pollies, etc ) They observe their physical characteristics and infer ways
that isopods are adapted to survive. Using hands-on materials students investigate
to find the answer to the question, "Do Isopods Prefer Damp or Dry
Surfaces?" Students will interpret data to make conclusions.
Science for You, Animal Adaptations: Why Do Zebras Have Stripes?
Students will be able to:
- Observe and describe a variety of adaptations
- Make careful records with detailed drawings and organizing charts
- Observe and infer ways that isopods are adapted to survive
- Observe camouflage adaptations and create a camouflaged critter".
- Large trays with isopod lab equipment (one tray per group of four
- 4 to 6 isopods in small containers with damp potting soil
- 4 Bug Box Magnifiers
- 4 hand lenses
- 4 3" x 5" cards
- 4 small trays for letting isopods move around on
- One sheet of 9" x 12" oak tag, marked to be cut and folded
to make tray
- Scissors, transparent tape
- Black construction paper to use to cover tray
- Two paper towels, one damp in a baggie and one dry
- Science Lab Book, Rollie Pollies" for recording observations
- Overhead transparencies of lab book pages
- Large poster covered with newspaper and laminated for Critter Environment
- "Critters" such as butterflies made of various colors and
patterns of paper
- Isopod: a small crustacean that lives on the ground, commonly knows
as a pillbug, potatobug, sow bug, rollie pollie, etc.
- Adaptations: Unique physical characteristics or behavior that help
an organism survive
- Camouflage: A special adaptation that helps an organism blend in with
- Hypothesis: a statement that tells what you predict the results of
your experiment will be
- Data: evidence that is gathered in a scientific investigation
- Conclusion: a summary statement explaining whether the hypothesis
is correct or not and why
Introduce isopods to the students. Tell students that they will get a chance
to carefully observe isopods. Tell the students that they are going to carefully
observe the bodies of isopods and then draw three views of the body, including
a top view, a side view and a bottom view. Show the students how to use
the Bug Box Magnifier to observe the isopod. Show them the hand lens and
the tray that they may use to help in their observations. Show them that
they can use the 3" x 5" card to gently scoop up the isopods.
Remind students that observations and scientific drawings should be carefully
and accurately drawn.
Tell the students to ask themselves questions about the isopod. What body
parts does it have? How many legs does it have? Where are the legs attached?
Does it have any other appendages? Do all isopods have the same body features?
etc Ask the students to open their Lab Book to the first lab page. (Pattern
for the Lab Book is included in the materials at the end of the lesson.)
Give each student a small container filled with damp soil and several isopods,
a Bug Box Magnifier, a hand lens, a 3" x 5" card and a small tray.
Remind students that although these are common creatures found in nearly
every yard, that they must be treated humanely. Allow students time to observe
and draw their isopods.
When most students have finished drawing their isopods, ask several students
to reproduce one of their drawings on the board. (An alternate procedure
is to photocopy several student drawings on an overhead transparency.) Referring
to the drawings, discuss with the class the nature of the isopods's body.
Is it a vertebrate? Does it have a hard body covering? What other animals
is it like? Is it an insect? Why not? Does it have jointed legs? How many
pairs? What kind of animals do you know that have jointed legs and a hard
body covering but are not insects? Etc Through this discussion you should
come to the conclusion that this animal is a crustacean, a rare land crustacean.
Invite students to observe their isopods again. Ask them to observe things
about the isopod's body and behavior that make it possible for the isopod
to survive? Students should suggest that it rolls up into a ball when in
danger, that it is grey colored like a rock or dirt, that it has a hard
outer shell, that it seems to be able to find moisture. Explain that these
body structures and special abilities to survive are called adaptations.
This focusing discussion is to give the students a specific
responsibility when they are viewing. Ask students if other animals have
special ways to help them survive? Invite students to share some of the
adaptations that they know about. Tell the students that there are many
kinds of adaptations, but that a common kind of adaptation is camouflage.
Explain that camouflage is when an animal blends in with its surroundings
so that it can stay hidden from predators. Tell the students that they are
going to watch a segment of a video. To give them a specific responsibility
for viewing during this segment, ask them to look for different examples
of how camouflage helps animals survive.
1. START the video tape of Animal Adaptations" after
the beginning credits where the children begin playing hide and go seek.
PLAY to the end of the first section where the children are playing
hide and go seek and the boys says Hey, this is so easy." PAUSE
and ask the students why it was so easy to find the hiding children. To
give them a specific reason for viewing, tell the students to look for different
ways that animals are camouflaged.
2. RESUME the video. PLAY the first few seconds until the
narrator says, Can you spot them?" Ask the students how the moose is
hidden? RESUME the video. PLAY briefly to see each new camouflaged
animal and then PAUSE each time a new animal is displayed on the
screen. Be sure to pause before the hidden animal is circled in the pictures.
Ask the students to tell how each animal is camouflaged. If you like, invite
a student to come up and point to the camouflaged animal. PAUSE when
this segment ends just after the narrator says, Its stripes blend in with
the grasses and shadows."
3. Tell students that we will visit the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago with
some other students. Ask them to look for an animal that is not camouflaged
as they visit several animals in the zoo. RESUME the video. PLAY
through the segment
until the dove is pictured. PAUSE as the music ends just before the
zoo education specialist says, We're in Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, Illinois."
Ask the students which animal was not camouflaged. Ask them why they think
this animal might not be camouflaged? (For example, a macaw can easily escape
predators because it can fly. It is brightly colored to attract other members
of its specie.) At this point STOP THE VIDEO.
4. Show the class the Critter Environment" which is covered with butcher
paper. (The Critter Environment" is a large poster covered with newspaper
and then laminated. The directions and patterns for making the materials
for this activity are included in the supplementary materials at the back
of the lesson.) Tell them that they will have 10 seconds to view the critters
in their environment" and that they should estimate the total number
of critters and how many kinds of critters are in the environment".
(Critters are made from a variety of colors and patterns of paper, including
newspaper. They are then taped to the laminated newspaper environment".)
Remove the butcher paper from the Critter Environment" and time the
class for 10 seconds. Place the environment" out of view. Ask the students
to record their estimates in their lab book.
5. When all estimates are completed, show the class the environment"
once more and ask them to carefully count the number of critters and the
total kinds of critters. Discuss with the class why their estimations and
the actual number and kinds of critters are different. Ask the students
to decide which of the paper critters" have the best chance of survival.
6. Tell the students that they will have the opportunity to design their
own critter. They should design it so that it can hide from the predators"
in the classroom. Give each student paper, scissors, crayons, markers and
colored pencils so they can design their unique critter. Have half the class
leave the classroom while the other half hide their critters. Give time
for the hunt". Reverse roles and repeat the activity. If any critters
are not found during the hunt", leave them where they are and let the
class continue to look for them.
7. Tell the students that we are going to look at an animal that has several
adaptations. Tell them to see if they can find three adaptations as they
watch the animal. RESUME the video. PAUSE when the zoo educational
specialist says, And then he really looks just like a rock." Ask the
student to name some of the adaptations that a box turtle has. (Besides
the physical adaptations, you might want to ask the students what adaptations
the turtle has that helps it eat the mealworm.)
8. Tell the students that the next animal we are going to watch has something
in common with an isopod. As the students to look for this animal's adaptation
that is like the isopod. START the video again. PAUSE when
the zoo educational specialist says, And this is the three banded armadillo."
Ask the students how the armadillo is like the isopod.
9. FAST FORWARD through the next two segments to the segment beginning
with a mountain sheep running across the side of a mountain. Ask the students
to watch for adaptations that help animals survive. Ask them to see if they
can find five different ways that animals adapt. RESUME the video
and PLAY through to the scene where a small rodent is pictured against
the side of a mountain and until the music ends this segment. You may wish
to PAUSE and discuss with the class some of the unique adaptations
as they are shown, for example the crab's ability to regenerate claws or
the piggy-back symbiosis of the two smaller fish and the giant rays. STOP
THE VIDEO. Ask students to list different kinds of adaptations they
saw in this segment of the video.
1. Explain that animals can have structural adaptations or behavioral
adaptations. Ask them what kind of adaptations were most of the ones shown
in the video. Ask students to name kinds of adaptations that are behavior
Ask the students if isopods have any behavioral adaptations. Ask students
how we can find out more about the behavior of isopods. Lead a discussion
by asking students if they think isopods are adapted to prefer damp or dry
environments. Ask the students to make generalizations and form a hypotheses
about the kind of environment isopods prefer.
Tell students that they will be planning and conducting an experiment to
find out whether isopods prefer damp or dry environments. Ask the students
to plan an experiment to test their hypotheses. Show them the equipment
they can use in their experiment. Demonstrate how to make an oak tag experiment
2. Show the transparency of the lab work sheet on the overhead projector.
Help the class to write their hypotheses. Discuss with the class and outline
the procedures for the experiment. Explain how to record the results. Remind
students about variables and discuss ways to make the experiment as valid
3. Have the students work with a partner to set up and perform six to ten
trials of the experiment. Ask the students to record their results in the
charts in their lab books.
4. Ask reporters in each group to report to the class their groups findings.
Record these on the board and lead the group in discussing the results of
the class findings. Ask each student to draw conclusions about the kind
of environment isopods prefer based on his or her observations and write
this up in the lab notebook.
Have students bring empty, 2-liter bottles to class and help
them make an isopod terrariums. Challenge students to look for isopod environments
in their home yards or in their neighborhood where they think isopods might
be living. Make a class chart that shows where isopods have been found.
Have students find isopods in various types of environments and record how
many they found in the various environments. Make charts and graphs to show
the information that is gathered.
Give students their own container with several isopods in it. Have them
keep a journal about the activities and behaviors of their isopods. Encourage
them to write stories about their isopods.
Have the students make a scrapbook of different kinds of adaptations found
in animals. They may cut and paste from magazines or if they choose, draw
pictures of different animal adaptations.
Master Teacher: Patricia Spigarelli
Lesson Plan Database
Thirteen Ed Online