Arts & Humanities
This is a lesson in writing strong, clear descriptions. After being introduced to some of the world's most unique animals, students will create a description of an animal no one has ever seen before. The fun comes when viewing the illustrations students draw based on their classmates' descriptions! How close are those illustrations (based on the written descriptions) to the illustrations drawn by the animal creator's imagination?
animals, description, descriptive writing, detail, imagination
What was the most unique animal about which students talked? Does its uniqueness match up to the uniqueness of any of these animals? List these animals names on a board or chart. Do any of the students know anything about these animals?
Tell students that you are going to share a short paragraph about each of the animals that includes information about the animal's appearance, its habits, and its habitat. Ask them to try to picture the animal in its habitat as you read. Ask them to consider which of the animals they find most fascinating.
Chinese giant salamander
This salamander is the largest salamander in the world. It lives along mountain streams and lakes in China. The salamander can grow to be 6 feet long and weigh more than 60 pounds. It has a large head, small eyes, and dark, pinkish wrinkly skin. The salamander has very poor eyesight, but it can catch insects, frogs, and fish by sensing the slight vibrations they make.
This sea creature, which can grow to be 6 inches long, was discovered in the South Pacific Ocean in 2005. The yeti crab's legs and claws are covered with short, stiff, bright yellow hairs that make it look furry. As a matter of fact, some people have given this crab a nickname: the "furry lobster."
The almiqui (say ol-mee-KEE) looks something like a large brown rat. It can grow to be 20 inches long from the tip of its long, pointy snout to the end of its hairless tail. The almiqui is native to Cuba, but it is rarely seen because it only comes out of its underground burrow at night.
This unusual fish is well named. It looks like a blob of gooey stuff, and it is not very active. It is just a blob that mostly floats above the deep-ocean floor off the coast of Australia. Its face is its most unique feature. It has a large, fat nose between two small eyes, and it seems to frown. The blobfish is rarely seen by humans.
This land crab lives on islands in the Indian Ocean. It looks like a hermit crab, but its body can grow to be 14 inches long and its legs can span 3 feet in length! Its two front legs have claws that can lift things that weigh 50 pounds or more. The coconut crab eats fruits and nuts. It will even climb a tree for a coconut meal.
Next, tell students you would like them to choose one of the animals -- perhaps the one they find most interesting -- and draw that animal as they picture it (based on your description) in its habitat. You might re-read the descriptions. At the end of each description, say: Who finds the name of animal goes here to be pretty interesting? Is this the animal you would like to draw? If so, come up now and take a sheet of drawing paper from me.
Give students time to draw the animals. Encourage them to provide appearance and habitat detail in their drawings. Reread the descriptions as needed/requested.
Once students have drawn their pictures, it is time to reveal a real picture of the actual animal. Talk as a class about how the students pictures resemble and differ from the actual animal. As you share the pictures (click each link below for a large image to share), you might share a few additional facts about the animal.
This activity might be done the day after the activity (above) is completed.
Talk with students about the activity just completed. Why was it so challenging to draw the animal? Students might share that
Tell students you would like them to create their own animal. As they create the animal in their mind, they need to think about
Give each child a large envelope and a sheet of drawing paper. Have students create an illustration of their animal in its habitat. They should create this illustration as a homework assignment (so there is no chance their classmates will see the pictures they draw of their animals). Once completed, students should put their illustrations in the large envelope you have given them and seal the envelope.
Collect students written descriptions of their animals and then re-distribute the descriptions to their classmates, one description to a classmate. Take care to be sure no student receives his/her own description. Students will read the description they have been given and draw a picture of the animal based on that description.
Once completed, give students time to share the description they were given and the picture they have drawn. After they have done that, its time for the creator of the description to hand over the sealed envelope with the actual illustration of the animal as s/he -- its creator -- envisioned it.
How close are the illustrations in appearance? Are there similarities? What kinds of differences are clear?
Give students time to talk about the activity just completed. What made it difficult? What might they do different next time? How important is it to paint clear images in the descriptions we write?
On a classroom bulletin board, display students written descriptions alongside the two illustrations.
Assess students based on the quality of their descriptions. You might use or adapt one of the rubric below to use in evaluating students written descriptions of their "new" animals.
Lesson Plan Source
FINE ARTS: Visual Arts
GRADES K - 4
NA-VA.K-4.3 Choosing and Evaluating A Range of Subject Matter, Symbols, and Ideas
NA-VA.K-4.5 Reflecting Upon and Assessing the Characteristics and Merits of Their Work and the Work of Others
NA-VA.K-4.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines
GRADES 5 - 8
NA-VA.5-8.3 Choosing and Evaluating A Range of Subject Matter, Symbols, and Ideas
NA-VA.5-8.5 Reflecting Upon and Assessing the Characteristics and Merits of Their Work and the Work of Others
NA-VA.5-8.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines
GRADES 9 - 12
NA-VA.9-12.3 Choosing and Evaluating A Range of Subject Matter, Symbols, and Ideas
NA-VA.9-12.5 Reflecting Upon and Assessing the Characteristics and Merits of Their Work and the Work of Others
NA-VA.9-12.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines
LANGUAGE ARTS: English
GRADES K - 12
NL-ENG.K-12.1 Reading for Perspective
NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
NL-ENG.K-12.3 Evaluation Strategies
NL-ENG.K-12.4 Communication Skills
NL-ENG.K-12.5 Communication Strategies
NL-ENG.K-12.6 Applying Knowledge
NL-ENG.K-12.8 Developing Research Skills
NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills
GRADES K - 4
NS.K-4.3 Life Science
NS.K-4.6 Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
GRADES 5 - 8
NS.5-8.3 Life Science
NS.5-8.6 Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
GRADES 9 - 12
NS.9-12.3 Life Science
NS.9-12.6 Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
Find links to more art lesson ideas in these Education World archives:
Find links to more language arts and reading lesson ideas in these Education World archives:
Copyright© 2010 Education World