Amazing Animals

In this unit, students begin their exploration of animals and animal adaptations by reading a collection of nonfiction texts. 



Unit 2

1st Grade

Unit Summary

In this science-based unit, students begin their exploration of animals and animal adaptations. Over the course of the unit, students explore three main topics: how different animals use their body parts and senses in different ways to survive, the ways how the behavior of different animal parents and offspring help the offspring survive, and the similarities and differences among individual animals of the same kind. This unit is part of a larger progression in understanding animals and the animal kingdom. In kindergarten, students learn about how animals meet their basic survival needs and how that varies depending on the season. In 2nd grade, students learn about different habitats and how animals in the habitat rely on the environment for survival. Then in 3rd grade, students study animal adaptations and the different ways animals adapt in order to survive, especially when threatened by environmental changes. It is our hope that this unit, in combination with others in the sequence, will help students develop a deeper understanding of the animal kingdom and life science.

As readers, In this unit students begin to think about how details in an informational text are connected. While the standard does not explicitly name cause and effect, students are noticing how one event makes something else happen. Additionally, in this unit students build a deeper understanding of the connection between the illustrations and the text, and how illustrations help the reader learn more about a particular idea or topic. When discussing the text, students build on the work they did in Unit 1 and continue to focus on the structures needed for successful academic discourse. Students continue to follow agreed-upon rules for discussions, using specific vocabulary, asking and answering questions, and producing complete sentences. The work in this unit sets students up for success with discourse in later units when students begin engaging with the thinking of others.

As writers, students continue to work on building their writing fluency by writing daily in response to the Target Task question. Throughout the unit, students learn a variety of strategies for writing complete sentences and varying the types of sentences they are writing depending on the type of information they are sharing. Students also have opportunities to work on both their narrative and informational writing over the course of the unit. Students use their content knowledge about how animals use their color to survive to write a narrative with a clear beginning, middle, and end. Students also engage in two different research reports, learning how to research and share important facts about their chosen topics. 

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Texts and Materials

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Core Materials


These assessments accompany this unit and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.

Unit Prep

Intellectual Prep

Unit Launch

Prepare to teach this unit by immersing yourself in the texts, themes, and core standards. Unit Launches include a series of short videos, targeted readings, and opportunities for action planning.

Essential Questions

  • How do animals use their body parts to survive?
  • What behaviors do parents, siblings, and babies engage in to help each other survive?
  • In what ways are individual animals of the same kind similar? In what ways can they differ?

Reading Focus Areas

  • To understand details in an informational text, readers think about how details are connected.

  • Illustrations help the reader learn more about a particular idea or topic.

Writing Focus Areas


  • Write complete sentences.

  • Write different types of sentences (statements, questions, exclamations, commands).

  • Use different question words when writing questions (who, what, where, when, why, and how).

Narrative Writing

  • Write a narrative with a beginning, middle and end.

  • Include details about what happened with each event.

  • Provide a sense of closure.

Informational Writing

  • Name a topic.

  • Supply facts about the topic.

Speaking and Listening Focus Areas

  • Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions.

  • Ask and answer questions about key details in a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.

  • Use specific vocabulary. Use vocabulary that is specific to the subject and task to clarify and share their thoughts.

  • Produce complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation.



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To see all the vocabulary for Unit 2, view our 1st Grade Vocabulary Glossary.

Supporting All Students

In order to ensure that all students are able to access the texts and tasks in this unit, it is incredibly important to intellectually prepare to teach the unit prior to launching the unit. Use the intellectual preparation protocol and the Unit Launch to determine which support students will need. To learn more, visit the Supporting all Students teacher tool.

Content Knowledge and Connections

  • Different animals use their body parts in different ways to see, hear, grasp objects, protect themselves, and move from place to place, and to seek, find, and take in food, water, and air.
  • Adult animals can have young, and the parents engage in behaviors that help the offspring survive.
  • Animals have body parts that capture and convey different kinds of information needed for growth and survival.
  • Different animals respond to different behaviors to help them survive.
  • Individuals of the same kind of animal are recognizable as similar but also vary in many ways.

Lesson Map

Common Core Standards

Core Standards


Supporting Standards

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Unit 1

The Seven Continents


Unit 3

Inspiring Artists and Musicians

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