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. Using next-generation science standards as a guide, students explore three main topics: how different animals use their body parts and senses in different ways in order to survive, the ways in which 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 on understanding animals and the animal kingdom. In kindergarten, students learn about how animals meet their basic needs for survival 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.

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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?

Writing Focus Areas

Sentence-Level Focus Areas

  • Write complete sentences.
  • Write different types of sentences (statements, questions, exclamations, and commands)
  • Use different question words when writing questions (who, what, where, when, why, and how).

In this unit, students continue to work on crafting strong sentences. Building on work done in Unit 1, students should continue to notice the difference between complete sentences and fragments. Students learn how to use the four different sentence types to describe key ideas in a text. Students also learn how to write specific questions by using a variety of interrogatives.

Narrative Writing Focus Areas

  • Write a narrative with a beginning, middle and end.
  • Include details about what happened with each event. 
  • Provide a sense of closure.

In this narrative writing project, students use their content knowledge about how animals use their color to survive - or camouflage - to write a narrative with a clear beginning, middle, and end.

Informational Writing Focus Areas

  • Name a topic.
  • Supply facts about the topic. 

Students have two pieces of informational writing in this unit: one report on an animal of their choosing, and one report on an endangered species. In both pieces of writing, students learn to research and write important facts about their chosen 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 thoughts.
  • Produce complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation. 

In this unit, students continue to learn how to use discussion and oral discourse to show their understanding of texts. Students build on the work they did in Unit 1 and continue to focus on the structures needed for successful academic discourse. The focus areas and discourse in this unit align with Tier 1 of the three tiers of academic discourse and row 1 and 3 of the Academic Discourse Rubric (K-2). See the Teacher Tool on Tiers of Academic Discourse to help support students with the focus areas for this unit.



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

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.

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.

Lesson Map

Common Core Standards

Core Standards


Supporting Standards

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Unit 1

The Seven Continents


Unit 3

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