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Ashley Bowers

Social Studies Lesson Plan Zoo Field Trip

a. Social Studies Content Standards Multiple Grade Levels
Geography Strand
Models and maps represent places.
Humans depend on and impact the physical environment in order to supply food,
clothing and shelter
First Grade
Geography Strand
Maps can be used to locate and identify places.
Diverse cultural practices address basic human needs in various ways and may
change over time.
Second Grade
Geography Strand
Maps and their symbols can be interpreted to answer questions about location of
The work that people do is impacted by the distinctive human and physical
characteristics in the place where they live.
Human activities alter the physical environment, both positively and negatively.
Third Grade
Geography Strand
Daily life is influenced by the agriculture, industry and natural resources in
different communities.
Communities may include diverse cultural groups.
Easily integrated with other content area standards also; for example:
Life Science: Physical and Behavioral Traits of Living Things
Living things have physical traits and behaviors, which influence their
First Grade
Life Science: Basic Needs of Living Things
Living things have basic needs, which are met by obtaining materials from
the physical environment.
Living things survive only in environments that meet their needs.
This zoo experience could be encompassing of and modified to cover many different standards,
depending on the grade level of the children.

b. Objectives
Students will be able to make connections between the features of a particular animal and
the geographical region the animals come from.

Students will be able to make predictions about an animals natural geographic location
given features of the animal.

c. Content Summary
Content covered in this lesson will be geography and cultural/anthropological skills. The
purpose of this lesson is to help children think critically about the environment that
certain animals at the zoo live in, predict where the animal might live geographically
(with specific animal features to support their prediction), and then hypothesize about
how the people in that area might live.

For example, a student might see the thick fur on a grizzly bear and hypothesize that
grizzly bears live in a colder climate. They will then be asked to think about what this
colder climate might mean for the people living where grizzly bears live (do they wear
heavy coats to stay warm?, etc.)

d. Instructional Procedures

Prior to the lesson: Preselect three exhibits at which the children will stop while at the zoo.
Humboldt penguins, North American grizzly bears, and African lions were selected for this
lesson because of the geographical variety of the natural habitat of these animals, the features of
the animals that help determine why they live in certain environments, and general interest.

For example, the experience at the Hmboldt penguin exhibit might be as follows:

Leading questions:
Where do you think these penguins live in the wild? Why do you think that?
o Humboldt penguins live along the coast of Peru and Chile
Where are Peru and Chile? What are these places like?
At this point, we will show the children what the environment/geographic features of the place
look like. Once the children have looked at this, we will ask:
What do you think the people that live in this place look like? If you lived in this place,
what would your life be like?
o Where would you live/ what would your home look like?
o What clothes would you wear? (Weather/Culture)
o How would you get to school?
Repeat process explicitly with the grizzly bear exhibit and the African lion exhibit. Use
information provided at the zoo at each exhibit as a resource to explore.
On a copy of a blank world map, children will record where they think an animal lives and then
where it actually lives in the wild. Children will also be asked to share their reasoning about why
this particular animal lives in this place. (Pay particular attention to the features that they used to
select a certain area on the map is it by a coast? What is the weather like in that part of the
world? etc.)

Our goal for this lesson is to model one way for children to make global connections when they
see animals; to encourage children to think about where these animals came from, what that
place is like, and what the people who live in that place are like. By walking children through
this critical thinking process, we hope that they internalize this critical lens when thinking about
animals and people all around the world.
e. Materials
Clipboard, blank maps, zoo maps, markers, photographs of chosen animals in their
natural habitat, photographs of the geographical location these animals come from, photographs
of people and people-made items and structures from these places (clothing, houses, what
schools look like).
f. Diversification/Anticipation
This lesson is easily differentiated to meet the needs of all learners. One way this lesson
can be differentiated is by analyzing more or fewer animals, depending on the interests and
abilities of the children. By modifying the lesson in this way, students remain engaged and
interested in critically thinking about animal people environment interactions. If the lesson is
too difficult, the mapping portion could be removed and guiding questions could be increased. If
the lesson is too easy, the students will be asked to work independently to draw connections
between an animal in an exhibit of their choosing and its environment. Another way to
differentiate this lesson is to provide extensions within the classroom. Students could be given
the opportunity to research an animal of their own choosing, where the animal is from
geographically, and then provide information about the people of that place. Students will then
draw connections between human characteristics and environment, as well as make comparisons
between people in different parts of the world.
g. Assessment
To assess the objective of Students will be able to make connections between the
features of a particular animal and the geographical region the animals come from, I will listen
for the student to be able to observe a particular quality and then, using that quality, describe an
environment where this quality might be useful. For example, a penguin has shiny and oily
feathers because they spend a lot of time in water. I think they even live in water!

To assess the objective of Students will be able to make predictions about an animals
natural geographic location given features of the animal, I will listen for the student to be able
to use an observation to make a prediction about a place, or about the people of that place. For
example, a penguin lives in water and eats a lot of fish. I think that the people who live by these
penguins might eat a lot of fish too. Maybe they even live on the beach.
Assessment for this lesson is informal, as the students will be more interested in seeing all the
animals at the zoo rather than completing a formal assessment. However, by listening to the
answers to the guiding questions, we will be able to see the connections that the students are
making. Hopefully, students will generalize this thinking, wondering, and making connections
process to other animals that they see at the zoo!