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     Planning for Engagment  Planning for Engagement with Big Science Ideas

    Puzzling Phenomenon or Anchoring Event |  Essential Question |  Gapless Explanation |  Alternative Conceptions

    Puzzling Phenomenon or Anchoring Event

    In this unit, children learn what animals need to survive and the relationship between their needs and where they live. They should be able to answer questions such as: “Where do animals live and why do they live there?”  Students are also expected to develop understanding of what plants and animals (including humans) need to survive and the relationship between their needs and where they live. To provide a context for these investigations, we've prepared a short video (3:30 minutes) showing ducks in a pond.  What are the ducks doing?  Why do they look different? Are they all the same? 

    Video of Ducks (Time Lapse)  (Also available on YouTube or on Vimeo. )


    Essential Question

    • How do living things live, grow, respond to their environment?? 


    • What are the parts of these animals?
    • What do these animals do?
    • How are these animals similar to - and different from - each other?

    Gapless Explanation

    Big Ideas:

    • Animals have identifiable structures and basic needs.
    • Animals’ behavior is influenced by conditions in their environment
    • Students can observe and record and compare behaviors and structures.

    Gapless Explanation of Duck Video (Adult Level):

    We chose this duck video because we thought kindergarten children could recognize ducks, and by analyzing what they know and think about ducks, extend their thinking and experiences to the other living organisms in the Unit.

    The opening screen shows a male and female Mallard Duck, and follows the male as it swims away.  We hope that the children will recognize them as ducks.  The male and female look different, so some children may think they are different types of ducks. 

    Soon a third bird swims into view.  This is a mud hen – not a duck.  The key point here is that not all birds are ducks.

    Mallards can be found in almost any wetland habitats, including permanent wetlands such as marshes, bogs, riverine floodplains, beaver ponds, lakes, reservoirs, ponds, city parks, farms, and estuaries.  The scene then switches to ducks standing on the shore.  The ducks’ feet are easy to see – they are webbed – to help them swim better.  (A mud hen walks in, and, though it is quick, the feet are very different - no webbing!)

    At the one minute mark, a pair of mallards are shown dunking their heads under water. Mallards are generalist foragers and will eat a wide variety of food. They don’t dive, but dabble to feed, tipping forward in the water to eat seeds and aquatic vegetation. They also roam around on the shore and pick at vegetation and prey on the ground. Not all behavior is about eating.

    At ~1:30 there is a short bit with two ducks resting.  They are standing in very shallow water – one is standing on one leg.  Ducks spend many hours a day loafing, sleeping, and performing basic maintenance and comfort movements like preening and stretching. The birds select loafing and roosting sites based on the temperature, humidity, wind speed, and sky conditions. On warm, sunny days, for example, ducks and geese will loaf in open areas where they can warm themselves in the sun. At night, waterfowl often roost in more sheltered habitats where the birds can conserve body heat and save energy.

    Key things that are visible in the video:

    • Ducks have a variety of behaviors – not just eating
    • Ducks interact with each other in a variety of ways, and interact with other species in a variety of ways
    • Ducks are found around water – where they get their food
    • Ducks have webbed feet – adapted to help them be better swimmers

    Gapless Explanation of Duck Video (Elementary Level):

    Ducks live near water, where they get their food.

    Ducks are good swimmers and have webbed feet that make them good swimmers.

    Not all birds are ducks.

    Not all ducks look the same.

    Ducks do more than swim – they also rest and preen (clean their feathers)


    LS1.A: Structure and function

    • All organisms have external parts. Different animals use their body parts in different ways to see, hear, grasp objects, protect themselves, move from place to place, and seek, find, and take in food, water, and air. Plants also have different parts (roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruits) that help them survive and grow. (from Grade 1)

    LS1.C: Organization for Matter and Energy Flow in Organisms

    • All animals need food in order to live and grow. They obtain their food from plants or from other animals. Plants need water and light to live and grow. ( As found in K-LS1-1)

    ESS2.E: Biogeology

    • Plants and animals can change their environment (as found in K-ESS2-2)

    ESS3.A: Natural Resources

    • Living things need water, air, and resources from the land, and they live in places that have the things they need. Humans use natural resources for everything they do. (as found in K-ESS3-1)

    Age Appropriate Science and Engineering Practices

    As Stated in Standards Adapted for K–2
    Asking questions  (science) / Defining problems (engineering) Wondering  (science) / Deciding the 'rules' (engineering)
    Developing and using models Drawing diagrams and building models to represent how things work.
    Planning and carrying out investigations Doing “exploriments”
    Analyzing and interpreting data Comparing and looking for patterns
    Using mathematical and computational thinking Counting and measuring
    Constructing explanations (science) / designing solutions (engineering) Describing what happened (science) / Tinkering (engineering)
    Engaging in argument from evidence "I think ____ because I see or know ____."
    Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information Writing, drawing, or talking (acting out) about what we know, read, and understand about new discoveries (things) (ELA connections)

    Alternative Conceptions

    The year in kindergarten might be the first time many children are introduced to animals other than the familiar neighborhood animals that humans have invited into their homes as pets. The typical kindergartner’s concept of animal is narrow, embracing for the most part a selection of mammals. When asked to recall the names of a few animals, kindergartners will provide lists that read like farm and zoo inventories. Cats, dogs, bears, birds, and the parade of other animals are not all animals to early-childhood students—they are cats, dogs, bears, and birds, each in a category of its own. The conceptual organization used by kindergartners does not yet recognize the superordinate set called animals that includes all the members in the kingdom of animals. Animals probably emerged on the scene about 700 million years ago in forms similar to present-day sponges and jellyfish. An organism in the animal kingdom is multicellular and must eat to survive. Unlike members of the plant kingdom, animals cannot make their own food by photosynthesis (or a related process), so they must eat other organisms to get the energy needed to sustain life. Kingdom Animalia has more members than any of the other kingdoms (Monera, Protista, Plantae, and Fungi). By some estimates 10 million different kinds of animals are living today, but many experts agree that the actual number could be many times greater. Better estimates are available for the number of animals that have backbones—mammals, fish, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. There are about 42,500 kinds of vertebrates. The great multitudes that make up the rest of the animal kingdom are known collectively as invertebrates, including the mollusks (clams, snails), crustaceans (crabs, shrimps, isopods), annelids (worms), and insects. Far and away the most populous class of animals is Insecta, with more members than all the other described animals combined. In this module, students observe firsthand and describe aquatic vertebrates (goldfish and guppies), mollusks (water snails and land snails), annelids (redworms and night crawlers), and crustaceans (isopods).. Obvious in their absence in this module are the insects, which because of their rearing needs are saved for another grade: (Insects in Grade 2)

    Younger children tend to believe: All animals have the same structures and behaviors. People are not animals. Birds, fish, insects, worms are not animals. All animals can move from place to place. Insects can’t live in water. Animals are four footed, or furry. Animals are wild, pets, or farm animals. Animals are large. Animals live on land. Fish do not need air. Fish sleep with their eyes closed.

    There are many wonderful children’s fiction books that portray animals and plants with human characteristics—plants that can walk and talk, and animals that talk and wear human clothes. These fanciful stories, whether serious or humorous, capture the imagination of children. But it is important to help young students distinguish fact from fantasy. . After reading a fictional story that gives plants or animals attributes they do not really have, take the time to ask students what was real and what was imaginary in the story. Have students compare their own firsthand experiences with plants and animals to those in the story.