How Do Animals Protect Themselves?
This lesson developed by Jim and
Recommended Ages: Preschool and Elementary
- How do animals protect themselves from getting eaten by other
- What body parts help them hide, fight or get away from "predators?"
- What kinds of behavior do animals do to get away or hide from
What You Need
- Posters or pictures of dinosaurs including a Stegosaurus, Triceratops,
- Posters or pictures of other animals that live near you like an eagle,
robin, cat, dog, skunk, porcupine, turtle, raccoon, frog, fish, snake....
- You might want to go to a zoo, park, or wooded area
- Craft materials like construction paper, glue, pipe cleaners,
Styrofoam balls, scissors
What You Do
- Look at the pictures or posters of dinosaurs. Talk about the idea that
critters eat other critters and introduce the idea of the "food web."
- How do critters try to protect themselves from getting caught by a
"predator" and eaten? Share the notion that many critters are designed
with parts on their bodies to help them out and protect them.
- Look at the dinosaur posters or pictures. What do we see? Spikes,
horns, claws, big pointed teeth, huge tails....
- Examine the Stegosaurus. What is on its tail and back that it could use
to defend itself from another dinosaur? We can see it has plates on its
back—they wouldn't taste good and it would take very tough teeth to
bite through them!
- Look at the Tyrannosaurus and check out his huge teeth! Look at the
Triceratops and see the horns and shield used for protection.
- Teeth, horns, plates, shields, spikes, big tails—these are all what
we call an animal's "defenses." Some animals give off an odor and spray
(like a skunk!) to defend themselves. Other animals are prickly like
porcupines and sea urchins.
- Animals also have behaviors they do to protect and defend themselves.
Think about birds and how they can fly and perch on a tree to get away
from a cat. Some animals play dead! Others can run really fast to get
away from their attackers. Some hide like a turtle pulling in his head,
tail and feet into his shell. Others hide in caves or holes in the ground
like some bears and moles.
- With paper and all the other craft stuff you have, make some animals or
draw some animals and design them with physical features that
could help them defend themselves. You can make real animals, or
make some pretend ones. It's fun to design a combo animal like a
dog with horns and a shell!
- Go to a park, the woods or a zoo and look at animals, birds and fish.
How do they protect themselves with physical traits and with their own
behavior? What kinds of critters seem to be pretty defenseless? Which
ones are really designed to defend themselves?
What Is Happening
Critters are all part of a food chain or food web. There are other
critters that would like to catch and eat them! Nature has a way of
helping many critters defend themselves either by having physical
attributes and body parts or by knowing instinctively what to do like
hide, run, and pretend to be dead. Think about where different critters
live, too. Sometimes critters have places they can go to protect
themselves, hide and get away from predators. Sometimes critters blend
into their natural environment so they are hard to even see. This is
called camouflage. What are our defenses against critters that could harm
us? We have some natural ones and we have some human-made ones! What
behaviors do we seem to instinctively have when it comes to being in
contact with something that could be dangerous for us? How do we respond
when we are face to face with critters that could harm us?