NatureWorks Adaptation Video

Type Category
Instructional Materials
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.



In this 14-minute video, Junior Naturalist Patrice and Naturalist Dave Erier talk about and give examples of animal adaptations. Following an overview of structural and behavioral adaptations, they feature the adaptations of the opossum, beaver, sea turtle, and porcupine, which allow them to survive in their environments. The easy-to-understand narration and engaging video clips make this resource accessible for a wide range of students. 

Intended Audience

Educational Level
  • Grade 3
  • Upper Elementary
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

3-LS4-3 Construct an argument with evidence that in a particular habitat some organisms can survive well, some survive less well, and some cannot survive at all.

Clarification Statement: Examples of evidence could include needs and characteristics of the organisms and habitats involved. The organisms and their habitat make up a system in which the parts depend on each other.

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource was not designed to build towards this performance expectation, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
After watching this video, students can be asked to compare the adaptations of the animals featured in the video. "How do their physical features or behaviors help them survive where they live?" They might write their ideas in science notebooks, turn and talk, and then participate in a whole class discussion. A class chart could be created listing the organisms, where they live, and their features and/or behaviors that allow them to survive there. The teacher may then ask students to construct an explanation based on the evidence they have gathered to answer the focus question: "Why do some organisms survive well in a particular habitat?" This could be done as a group, in small groups or independently depending on the familiarity of students with the process of constructing explanations and the goals of the teacher (for students to share/process ideas, to assess individual student understanding, etc.).

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource was not designed to build towards this science and engineering practice, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Students can use their observations (evidence) from the video to construct an explanation about how organisms survive in their habitats. They could also gather information about additional animals (and plants) from other sources (books, videos, magazine articles, podcasts, etc.) to add to their explanations.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
If students are not familiar with the term "adaptation," the teacher will need to explain that it means the characteristics, features and behaviors that help organisms live in their environments. The focus should not be on this terminology for upper elementary students, instead, they should be given many opportunities to observe and identify the features and behaviors of organisms that allow them to survive where they live. After watching the video, students could go outside and observe local organisms (such as birds, insects, squirrels, etc.) with the purpose of identifying the features and behaviors that allow them to survive there. This information could be added to a chart of features and behaviors created by the class or small groups based on the evidence from the video. The teacher also might have students create a chart showing which animals they think survive well, less well, and may not survive at all in a specific habitat. They can use evidence gained from the video (and perhaps other sources) to make these claims. Students would then explain their thinking and reasoning to the class (or to others in small groups).

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource was not designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
This video provides a natural opportunity to introduce or reinforce the concept of structure and function with students. A structure and function chart could be created based on the information students glean from the video.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: This video is strongly aligned to the Disciplinary Core Idea. By itself, the resource is a source of media that can be obtained and used by students to practice constructing explanations from evidence presented through the video. As suggested above it can also support students development of a claim by providing the student evidence to support their reasoning. The exploration of the structure and function as a crosscutting concept is also clear.

  • Instructional Supports: This resource is a stand alone video and does not include instructional supports. The teacher could create a structured observation sheet for students to record observations from the video if needed. Sentence frames could also be used to help students craft their explanations. In addition, it may be helpful to preview vocabulary or stop the video to discuss some of the following terms: generation, characteristic, organism, environment, reproduce, feature, structural adaptation, behavioral adaptation, migration, prehensile tail.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: No assessments are included due to the nature of this resource. Prior to watching the video, the teacher could ask students: "Why do you think some organisms survive well in a certain place?" Photos of a couple different animals could be shown to spark student thinking during this formative assessment. The teacher can also get an idea of student thinking as they craft their explanations, during science discussions, and from a written explanation assignment.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: The video is freely and easily accessible online.