Adaptation is described as the way a plant or animal adjusts to its environment. For example, animals that live in a desert environment have developed unique ways to adapt to the hot, dry climate. In this game, players will learn interesting facts about animal adaption and practice them using a fun matching card game! Here the instructions for the game as well as a list of interesting animal adaptations to get you started.
What You Do:
- Cut index cards in half, making 24 cards.
- On one side of 12 cards, draw or paste a picture of an animal from the list below and the animals you add to the list.
- On the other side, if you choose, glue bright colored wrapping paper to cover the white card so you can’t see what the animal is or the adaptation information you write down.
- On the 12 cards without animal pictures, write one way in which one animal from the first set of cards adapts to its environment. For example, one card could be a picture of a chameleon and on another card would read “Changes color to hide from predators.”
- Once all the cards are completed, turn them facedown and make as many matches as possible. Turn over only two cards at a time. If they don't match, turn them back over and try again! If you are playing with another person whoever winds up with the most matches wins.
The descriptions of the animals listed below are detailed to get the big picture of the animal and its adaptation. When it is time to play the game, it will be up to your child to summarize the adaptation and narrow it down to one or two things that identify what kind of change happens to help them survive. Here a some animal adaptations from the hot desert to get your child on track:
- Armadillo Lizard protects itself from predators by rolling up into a ball and creates a spiny ring to fend off unwanted predators. He has a keen sense of smell to notice predators.
- Banded Gila Monster has such good hearing and vision that she can lay inside her burrow until it is safe to come out. When this amazing lizard is under trees or bushes she is camouflaged and when she is not, her red, pink, orange, and black colors are a warning to predators. She only comes out in the morning and burrows the rest of the day because of the extreme heat.
- Desert Tortoise lives in burrows which he digs himself to escape the heat of the summer and the cold of winter in the desert. Most of his water intake comes from moisture found in the grasses and wildflowers he eats in the spring. The tortoise has the ability to store about a quart of water in his bladder to be used when necessary. Adult desert tortoises can go for years without water.
- Thorny Devil is one of the least aggressive reptiles. She likes to defend herself but has weird ways of doing it. She has the ability to change colors to match her environment, and when she’s scared she puts her head between her front legs, showing a fake head or knob on her neck where a real head should be. If a predator tries to flip her over she puts her spine and curved tail against the ground to prevent from falling over. Her movement looks like a leaf, and she often "freezes" instinctively, or puffs herself up like a ball, which makes her look bigger.
Now it is your child's turn to complete the other 8 cards for the matching game. Have fun creating more cards from what your child has learned in school, or investigate animal adaptation in books, on the Internet, or at your local science museum!
Alicia Danyali, BS Elementary Education, taught primary-level students for four years at the International School of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The last four years of her teaching career, she taught at the Washington International School in Washington, D.C. She recently completed writing a series of children's picture books and is a mother of one young son.