Spring Lesson Plan #1: Grade K-2 (Fur, Feathers, Skin or Scales)


Fur, Feathers, Skin or Scales!

Home School Days

This lesson is designed to introduce students to a variety of animal body coverings and the concept of grouping animals according to their body covering – fundamental to the scientific process of classification. This is a great segue for your class to discuss how different body coverings help an animal to survive in its environment and will support further learning back in the classroom.

This lesson is designed to be versatile - how you choose to undertake this lesson will depend on the grade level and dynamic of your class. Two alternate activity sheets are provided for you to use at your discretion and each one can easily be tailored. (Please see the section the 'Helpful Information‛ on the PDF for further information.)

Students Will Be Able To:

[1] identify different animal body coverings

[2] group animals according to their body covering

[3] discuss how body coverings help animals to survive in their environment

We highly recommend allowing the student’s time for free exploration. The Aquarium is a highly stimulating environment and if students are not given this time to roam and discover then they may be distracted and overexcited throughout the more structured part of this lesson. This also provides a chance for students to tune-in to the theme of the lesson, so remind them to keep their eyes peeled for animals that share common characteristics. Ensure students remain within their small groups, accompanied by adult chaperones at all times.


Gallery Exploration (60-75 min). In small groups, have students explore the Aquarium galleries searching for the various body coverings. After the students have had a chance to explore the galleries - meet in the pre-arranged meeting spot to discuss the student's experience.

Pick one of the activity sheets and give to chaperones to simply use as a reference to guide student learning. Chaperones can use the sheet to generate dialogue and ask questions around predicting, observing and discussing the animal body coverings.  

  • What body covering does this animal have?

  • How might that help it to survive?

  • What other animals also have this type of body covering? 

Alternatively, give chaperones a list of these key questions to ask at each animal and eliminate the activity sheet entirely.  

Activity (20-30 mins). However you decide to undertake this activity, remind students the importance of closely observing the animals. As an example, at first glance it may be hard to see the outline of scales on a fish’s body but these will become obvious when you focus on the animal and imagine‚ zooming-in‛ with a magnifying glass.

Suggested guiding questions to help students share their observations:

  • What are some animals that had the same type of body covering?

  • Were there any animals you didn’t find or could not tell what their body covering was?

  • Did all animals with (skin) look the same?

  • What was different about them?

Additional Possible Discussion Questions:

  • What gallery did you visit?
  • What textures did you notice in the habitats?
  • What were some characteristics that were different among the animals you chose?
  • What purpose does that covering have for the animal?
  • How do humans interact with this animal? Do we share any of its characteristics?
  • What kind of environment did you find this animal in? Can you think of any animals from other environments that share the same characteristics?

Pro Tips:

  • To avoid too many students trying to look at one exhibit/gallery at the same time, have different groups start at different geographic zones within the Aquarium (REMEMBER: Students under the age of 13 must be accompanied by an adult at all times, including in the 4D theatre)

  • This activity works best as a review of scientific concepts explored in class prior to a Vancouver Aquarium visit. Students should be familiar with the concepts of the needs of living things, and the importance of adaptations in aiding survival.

  • If you choose to have students completing activity sheets, then provide them with clipboards so they have a hard surface on which to draw and/or write.

Learning Objectives

Big Idea:

  • Science: Plants and animals have observable features (Grade K)
  • Science: Living things have features and behaviours that help them survive in their environment (Grade 1)
  • Science: living things have life cycles adapted to their environment (Grade 2)

Curricular Competencies:

  • Science: Represent ideas and observations by drawing (Grade K)
  • Science: Students make exploratory observations using their senses (Grade K)
  • Science: Students communicate observations and ideas using oral or written language, drawing or role-playing (Grade 1 and 2)
  • Science: Students make and record observations (with predictions through discussions) (Grade 1 and 2)


  • Science: Adaptations of local animals that help them to meet their basic needs (Grade K)
  • Science: the classification of living and non-living things (Grade 1)
  • Science: Structural features and behavioural adaptations of animals in the local environment (Grade 1)
  • Science: Understanding the similarities and differences between offspring and parent. (Grade 2)

Download the attached PDF here for the full lesson plan. Included in the document are suggestions for pre-visit preparation, working with chaperones, and tailoring the activity to suit your needs.

Continue to Spring Lesson Plan #2: Grade K-2 (Forks, Knives and... Feet?) »