Anita Zampedri
Material Type:
Activity/Lab, Assessment, Lesson Plan
Lower Elementary
Animal Adaptations, Habitats, Lesson Plan, animal-adaptations, habitats
Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial
Media Formats:

Education Standards

Beavers: Animal Habitats and Adaptations

Beavers: Animal Habitats and Adaptations


In this lesson, students will reflect briefly on different habitats and adaptations of animals that help them survive in those environments before diving into one specific example of animal adaptation -- the beaver. Students will learn about the behavioral and physical adaptations that help the beaver to survive and thrive in its river environment.  Photo by mana5280 on Unsplash.


In this lesson, students will learn about animal habitats and different adaptations that help animals to thrive in those habitats, both in physical characteristics and behavior. This lesson specifically focuses on the beaver's habitat and the many adaptations the beaver has that helps it survive in and around rivers. This lesson will take place in one 60-minute class period.


Background for Teachers

Before teaching this lesson, teachers will want to know a little about each of the different types of habitats, some animals that live there, and some adaptations that help these animals survive in these habitats. Search the following resources Utah's Online Library for articles about habitats and animal adaptations: Gale in Context Elementary and Explora on EBSCO. In particular, teachers should understand the different adaptations the beaver has to help it survive in its river habitat. For more information about beavers visit Live Science: Facts about Beavers. To learn more about beaver adaptations visit Sciencing: What Adaptations do Beavers have to Survive? This Build-a-Beaver Outline also gives more information about physical and behavioral adaptations.

The following sheet describes beaver adaptations and how they can be represented with clothing and other objects: Dress-A-Beaver Activity. This will be used during the lesson. 


Step 1 - Goals and Outcomes


Learning Intentions:

  • Students will be able to name several different habitats and animals that live in those habitats. 
  • Students will understand what is meant by behavioral adaptations and physical adaptations.

Success Criteria:

  • Students will be able to describe the behavioral and physical adaptations of beavers that help them to survive in their habitat.


Step 2 - Planning Instruction


Student Background Knowledge

In first grade students learned about external features of living things and that many animals living in specific surroundings share similar physical characteristics. Prior to this lesson, it would be helpful for students to know the names of some different habitats and that each habitat has unique characteristics.

Strategies for Diverse Learners

ELL learners can be paired in a group with others who can help them understand. Also, this lesson uses many visual elements that help boost understanding for all students.

Preparing for instruction

Before lesson day, the following preparations need to be made:

Gather some small plastic animals, enough for each group or table, representing animals from a variety of habitats

Gather clothing and materials mentioned in the Dress-A-Beaver Activity.

Print off Beaver Puppet parts, one for each child

Each child will need one paper bag, crayons, and a glue stick

Step 3 - Instruction

To introduce the lesson give a plastic animal to each table/group (zebra, frog, raccoon, monkey, etc.).  Introduce some different habitats by projecting the National Geographic Kids habitats page on the board. Tell students that each habitat has different characteristics. Some are hot, some are cold, some are dry, and some are very humid, but that plants and animals in each habitat have special characteristics or adaptations that help them survive and thrive in that habitat. Have students discuss with their group which habitat their animal might live in and what characteristics or adaptations make them specially suited for that environment. Give each group a chance to share.

Tell students that today we will be learning about the behavioral and physical adaptations of one specific animal. Give them clues to guess which animal. These clues might include:

  • Mammal
  • Big teeth
  • Lives on land, but likes to swim in the water
  • Has a wide tail
  • Has webbed-paws
  • Native to North America
  • Builds it's home out of sticks and mud
  • Chews trees

Have students use individual whiteboards to write their guesses and hold them up. They can change their guess after every clue. After students have guessed a beaver, show them the All About Beaver video. Ask students to pay attention to characteristics of both the river habitat and the beaver. After the video have students write on their whiteboard one thing they noticed.

Ask for a volunteer to help show how beavers' physical and behavioral adaptation help them to thrive. Explain that a physical adaptation is a characteristic that a plant or animal has that helps it survive in its environment, while a behavioral adaptation is something an animal does (its behavior) that helps it survive in its environment. Have students take turns pulling items out of the bag and discussing how they relate to the beaver's adaptations, and then put each item on the volunteer. 

Next pass out the paper bags and beaver puppet parts. Before students assemble their puppets, show them an example of an assembled puppet and review the various adaptations of the beaver. Have students color, cut, and assemble their own beaver puppet. To assess their understanding from the lesson, students will record a Flipgrid video showing off their puppets and pointing out some of the beavers' adaptations with different body parts.

Step 4 - Assessments

Throughout the lesson various forms of assessment will be used. At the beginning students will verbally explain their understanding of habitats and animal adaptations for specific habitats. Later on in the lesson students will use whiteboards to express their learning from the video. Finally, students will apply their learning by making their beaver paper bag puppet and making a video on Flipgrid explaining different adaptations that the beaver has. This is their summative assessment. A picture of an example paper bag puppet can be found in the Beaver Puppet resource.

Beaver Puppet and Flipgrid Video Rubric