Lesson Plan:

Animal Life Cycles, All Around

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March 13, 2016
by Anna Parrish

Learning Objectives

Students will be able to identify differences between the life cycles of various animals. Students will be able to represent various stages of an animal’s life cycle using tableau. Students will be able to research parts of an animal’s life cycle and produce a written description of the various stages.


Introduction (10 minutes)

  • Begin the lesson by comparing and contrasting two different types of animals: a kangaroo and an ostrich.
  • After displaying the two pictures along with the text, ask students to describe differences between the animals.
  • Tell the students that they will be learning more about representing, describing, and writing about the life cycles of various animals.

Explicit Instruction/Teacher Modeling (10 minutes)

  • Using the Life Cycle of a Bird and the Life Cycle of a Mouse worksheets, demonstrate the process of ordering the parts of the animals’ life cycles.
  • Model the process of researching the life cycles and using the visual pictures to construct sentences that explain the particular parts of the animals’ life cycles.
  • Model the process of using the pictures to represent the animals in tableau, a frozen picture.

Guided Practice/Interactive Modeling (10 minutes)

  • Tell the students that when it is their turn, they will either act out an “arrow” showing the direction of an animal’s life cycle or they will act out what that animal looks like at one part of the animal’s life cycle.
  • Using the set of Animal Life Cycles pages, choose an animal and display that life cycle on an interactive whiteboard or a printed version.
  • Lead the students in researching that particular animal using either books or a search engine.
  • Invite eight students to the front of the room. Instruct four students to act as “arrows”, pointing in the direction of the life cycle. Have the other students model the different components of the life cycle.
  • Lead the class in a discussion on the life cycle of that animal.
  • Have the students represent the various ways an animal changes using a tableau.

Independent Working Time (20 minutes)

  • Break the class apart into two or three groups of students, with about 8 in each group. If you wish to use groups of four, provide the students with large cut-outs of arrows to show the sequence.
  • Assign one animal to each group and distribute a corresponding animal life cycle page.
  • As students are researching and planning their tableau, circulate around the room to answer questions and guide students in the process of planning their life cycle tableau.



  • Enrichment: Challenge students to compare and contrast the life cycles of two different animals. For groups that may be advanced or work more quickly, have them plan a tableau of a different animal and then describe the similarities and differences.
  • Support: For students who need an extra example of the concept of tableau, use the Drama Tableau Project video to understand how to use body movements to represent ideas.

Technology Integration

  • Use a digital camera to take pictures of each tableau as each group presents their life cycles. Display these on a central bulletin board or on the class blog or website.
  • Use the video camera function of a digital camera to record the process of movement into the tableaus.

Related Books and/or Media

  • From Caterpillar to Butterfly by Deborah Heiligman
  • A New Frog by Pamela Hickman
  • The Life Cycle of a Rabbit by Lisa Trumbauer
  • From Puppy to Dog by Suzanne Slade
  • The Life Cycle of the Monarch Butterfly by Betty Brownlie


Assessment (10 minutes)

  • As the students are planning their tableaus, rotate around the room as students are working, and question them on the different parts of the life cycle that they are representing.
  • Using the graphic organizer assessment, ask students to illustrate each part of the life cycle of an animal they represented and write a description next to each part of the life cycle.

Review and Closing (10 minutes)

  • To complete the lesson, give each group a chance to share their tableau with the rest of the class.
  • After each group presents, ask the class to describe how that particular animal changes through the course of its life cycle.

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