How Animals Meet Their Needs

Harcourt School Publishers
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.



This is a link to an interactive game students can use as a whole group or on personal devices.  Students click on a projector button and an animal appears on the screen. The animal's adaptation is revealed as a clue for the students to choose which need the adaptation provides. A provided list of needs includes: oxygen, climate, food, water, shelter/protection. If the student chooses correctly, a short explanation and more information is revealed about the adaptation. If the student's choice is incorrect, the student is directed to re-read the original clue and try again.

Intended Audience

Educational Level
  • Grade 1
  • Early Elementary
Access Restrictions

Free access with user action - The right to view and/or download material without financial barriers but users are required to register or experience some other low-barrier to use.

Performance Expectations

1-LS1-1 Use materials to design a solution to a human problem by mimicking how plants and/or animals use their external parts to help them survive, grow, and meet their needs.

Clarification Statement: Examples of human problems that can be solved by mimicking plant or animal solutions could include designing clothing or equipment to protect bicyclists by mimicking turtle shells, acorn shells, and animal scales; stabilizing structures by mimicking animal tails and roots on plants; keeping out intruders by mimicking thorns on branches and animal quills; and, detecting intruders by mimicking eyes and ears.

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
To fully meet the Performance Expectation teachers should provide examples of man-made inventions that mimic the actions of the featured animals. (i.e. the giraffe’s long neck and a grabber stick; manatee snouts and close valve snorkels, etc.) Teachers could provide real objects or pictures of the man-made objects for students to observe and determine how they work to solve a specific human problem. Students should be given the opportunity to develop their own design for a product (to solve a human need) that is inspired by an animal adaptation.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this science and engineering practice, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Guided reading support may be needed for students who are below the reading level in this activity. The activity can be completed in pairs, as a small group, or as a whole class. Provide the opportunity for students to discuss what they learned through the activity as a way to review information and reveal misconceptions. It could be helpful to reiterate that the animals’ features (mentioned) are directly related to how it meets its individual needs and have students record the adaption and the need it meets on a T-chart. Provide sufficient supports and scaffolding to elicit and develop vocabulary embedded in the activity in order to support students' communication.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Have students record, in words or pictures, some of the various parts of animals and the way those parts help meet a specific need for that animal. Ask students to share their own observations of how certain structures help animals meet their needs. This could relate to their own pets, other animals they have observed in nature, or human examples.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this crosscutting concept.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
Make sure students relates structures to their functions by reviewing their recorded information about the activity. Have students share their T-charts, pictures or notes to describe the structure, by shape, where it is placed, or how it moves. Also have them describe how the shape, placement, or movement directly relates to how it functions for the animal. Guide students into wondering if the structure were altered, on a different part of the animal, or if it moved a different way if it would still serve the same function.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: This activity address the Core Idea and Crosscutting Concept mentioned above, however it is useful only as a limited tool toward a goal of meeting the full expectations of all three dimensions. Students begin to build knowledge of terms (oxygen, climate, food, water, shelter/protection) and defining needs of living things. Strengths include: • Age appropriate • Relatively engaging • Scientific vocabulary (e.g., camouflage, burrow, hibernate, muzzle, insulate) Identified weaknesses of this activity: • Some students may not be able to manage the reading required • Additional vocabulary and background information may need to be provided • There are no additional explanatory or instructional materials related to the the activity

  • Instructional Supports: There are no explanatory or instructional materials coupled with this activity.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: The activity does not provide a method for monitoring student progress. Teacher may gather progress information while asking probing questions to determine student understanding.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: The activity is straightforward and easy to use. Motivation and engagement level is designed for early elementary age students. Young students may be capable of managing the activity but may be not able to read the materials independently.