Lesson Plan

Behavioral and Structural Adaptations of Animals


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Big Ideas




In this lesson, students learn to differentiate between the structural and behavioral adaptations of animals. They learn about the importance such adaptations play in the role of the animal’s survival in specific climates or environments. Students will:

  • identify adaptations that help plants and animals survive in various climates and environments.

  • gain understanding of the different functions of adaptations.

Essential Questions

  • How does the variation among individuals affect their survival?

  • How do the structures and functions of living things allow them to meet their needs?


  • Behavioral Adaptation: Actions animals take to survive in their environments. Examples are hibernation, migration, and instincts. Example: Birds fly south in the winter because they can find more food.

  • Structural Adaptation: A characteristic in a plant or in an animal’s body that helps it to survive in its environment. Examples are protective coloration (camouflage) and the ability to retain water.


120 minutes/3 class periods

Prerequisite Skills


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Related Materials & Resources

The possible inclusion of commercial websites below is not an implied endorsement of their products, which are not free, and are not required for this lesson plan.

  • Hiding Out by James Martin. Random House Children’s Books, 1993.

  • How do Animals Adapt? by Bobbie Kalman and Niki Walker. Crabtree Publishing Company, 2000.

  • Claws, Coats, and Camouflage by Susan E. Goodman. Millbrook Press, 2001.

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