I’ve been running a challenge program for some of the kids in one of the schools I work in. The first one is about Animal Adaptations.

I kicked off the unit by showing this video

They adored this video. The conversations ran much deeper than I thought they were going to. They even started talking about how humans could use what they know about animal adaptation to improve their lives. I love it when they realize why I’m teaching something!

Next, we did some experiments to understand physical adaptations: blubber, camouflage, and claws. I have been training myself to introduce the activity and the general learning goals–then to stand back and let them do the learning. My observation of their understanding and connecting was nothing short of miraculous.

First they put on gloves with spoons taped to the fingers. They had to collect “food” in order to survive the winter. We discussed who would live to have offspring and why.

Next, we created Skittles habitats and dumped a few m&ms into the habitat. Each student was an M&M bird to whom Skittles are poisonous. They picked out the M&Ms that were not camouflaged well and after each round, only the colors that survived had offspring. It became harder and hard to find them.

 We also put our hands in a bag filled with shortening and plunged it into ice cold water to feel how blubber protects animals. It was too messy for me to take photos.

Finally, we documented our learning with some drawing and writing.