Animal Adaptation Stations

I’m a big believer that playing is learning.  So any time I can integrate exploration and hands on purposeful “play” in the classroom, I consider it a win!

That’s why I love these animal adaptation stations in this Next Gen Science Unit on Organisms!  Let’s chat about each station, the adaptation kids explore, how I set it up, and what materials I use.

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Set Up

To set up these adaptation stations, just print out and post these station signs (find them labeled or blank in the unit) and post in 8 spots around the room.  Most stations will be fine on the floor, but you may want to consider using a table for some.  Then, just print out the materials from the unit and set out the materials listed.

If you store these materials in gallon ziplock bags, you can easily reuse and set up even faster next year!

Limit 2-3 students per station to make management and exploration easier.  I find that about 2 minutes is a good amount of time for stations like this and I use an online timer on our smart board.  You can adjust for your kids if needed, but I find that less time is not enough to complete the tasks.  But more time usually means time for kids to get off task.  When they realize they don’t have much time, their focus is MUCH better! #teachertips

Bird Beaks

Objective: TSW use tweezers, clothespins, etc. to pick up worms to mimic a bird’s beak.
Materials: clothespins, tweezers, chopsticks (these kid ones are perfect!), play worms


Objective: TSW find camouflaged beads and then camouflage them well for the next group.
Materials: colored beads, camouflage printout from unit (laminate)

Can you see the beads?  They hide pretty well on this photo!


Objective: TSW observe a real cactus and/or pictures of animals with prickles.  Then, they will make their own prickled organism.
Materials: toothpicks, styrofoam balls or cups


Objective: TSW feel different types of animal coverings (smooth, light fur, heavy fur, dry scales) and put them in the appropriate “environment.”
Materials: fabric samples (just go to your local fabric store and ask for samples of fabrics that you need–it’s free and the perfect size for this activity!), environment printouts from unit (laminate)

Webbed Feet

Objective: TSW observe the difference between toed feet and webbed feet by exploring how they work in water.
Materials: clear plastic tub filled with water, wooden craft sticks, plastic (like lamination scraps or clear packaging tape)

Here it is with regular feet/toes.  It moves easily through the water without resistance.

Here is the webbed feet (I used packaging tape on both sides).  This gives the feel of resistance when you move the “feet” through the water to show how ducks and other webbed feet animals can swim more easily.

Smell Me

Objective: TSW observe different smelly stickers and sort/stick them into categories to tell whether they attract or repel other organisms.
Materials: Dr. Stinky’s Scratch N Sniff Stickers, sorting mat for each student from unit


Objective: TSW wear the “claw gloves” and practice using them for digging and picking up food.
Materials: gloves, plastic spoons, play food, tub of dirt or sand

Adaptation Match

Objective: TSW match animal adaptations with a tool people have made to mimic the adaptation
Materials: adaptation match cards from unit

You can find all of the print out materials for these exploration stations, plus over 140 pages of detailed plans to cover your organisms Next Gen Science standards!

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