A science lesson on endangered species.



An elementary science teaching lesson covering endangered species.  Includes printable teaching worksheets.


Learning Objective

After reading and discussing a science research prompt, students will be able to gather information about a particular endangered species and present findings to the class, by completing a research workbook and making a realistic sketch of the animal.


Content Targets

Science: Life Science, investigation skills, animals and their habitats, endangered species


Language Arts: Research skills, reading comprehension, writing mechanics, responding to a prompt, listening and speaking skills, referencing.  Visual Arts.



2nd Grade - 3rd Grade - 4th Grade - 5th Grade






Lesson Materials

Academic Language Focus

  • What it means to research a prompt.

  • What it means for a species to be endangered.

  • How to reference resources.

Key Vocabulary

Endangered species, threatened species, extinct species, habitat, population, life span


Modifications for English Language Learners

Provide students with research material that is easy to decode. With a highlighter, help them find information that applies to the prompt. For beginning and intermediate students, allow them to write phrases rather than complete sentences. Encourage them to draw their picture and write related phrases directly on their picture.


Modifications for upper grades or advanced students

Upper grade or advanced students can write essays rather than use the research workbook (or use the research workbook as a rough draft). These students can be encouraged to do more critical thinking about the animals' situation, such as devising measures to save the animal, or deciding why particular measures are working or not working.


Extension Activities

Students can use the workbooks as pre-writing graphic organizers to write research papers.



Use the research workbooks and presentations to assess students content knowledge of the animal they research, ability to engage in the research process, and listening and speaking skills. (see assessment rubric)



Part 1 (Reading, Modeling, Researching and Writing)

3-5 days


Lesson Warm-Up

Write the phrase "Endangered Species" on the board and ask students what they think this means. Brainstorm ideas as a class and write their ideas on the board in cluster formation.




Read a non-fiction book or article about endangered species to the class.


After reading, ask students if they can give the definition for endangered species and write their idea on the board. Remind students that endangered species do not just have to be animals, but can also be plants.


Ask students if they can remember any endangered animals that were mentioned in the book. Make a list of animal species on the board.


Tell students that they will be doing a research quest on an endangered animal. Assign or let students choose an animal to research (I chose popsicle sticks with their names on them to be fair). Have each student write their name on the board next to the species they pick.



Pass out a copy of the Science Research Quest (printable) and read it with students. Ask students what resources might be available to do their project (books, a trip to the school, library, Internet, magazines, etc.) If students only have access to a few computers in the classroom, make a sign-up sheet for different days.


Using an animal that has not been chosen, model how to gather research. Be sure to explain exactly what is expected by reading the questions in the research report and finding most of their answers. This can be posted in the front as an example and can be used as a reference for students. Show students how to reference their materials (APA style).


Pass out the Endangered Species Mini-Project worksheets (printables) and let students start their research. Monitor their ability to engage in the research and writing process. You may also decide to pass out or post a copy of the rubric so that students can see exactly what is expected as the final product. This also helps students take part in their own assessment.



Ask students to share one fact their learned about their species with a partner.


Ask students, as a whole class, what are some reasons that their animals are endangered. Discuss as a class.



Part 2 (Art Project, Oral Presentations)

3 days



Tell students that now that we have finished our written reports, we are going to make realistic sketches of our animals. Show students how to find a photograph of their animal (in books, or Internet).



Model how to sketch a realistic picture. For example, if they are drawing a cheetah, they want to color it orange with black spots, not purple. Show students how to color in their animal with oil pastels, markers, crayons, etc. They can bubble cut their finished animal.


Next show students how to make the background of the picture. Tell students to look back in their reports to find the animals' habitat. They will be using crayons and watered-down paint to create a background. For example, if their animal lives in the ocean, they might draw some seaweed and rocks with crayon and then paint their background with blue and green paint. Explain to students that having a somewhat abstract background will make their realistic animal pictures standout. Let the paintings dry before mounting them on colored construction paper or tag board.


Lastly, give students a square of foam to glue onto their painting. Show them how to glue their animals on the foam to make the picture appear 3-D.


When projects are completed, students will do a brief oral presentation. Model for students how to stand up straight, make eye contact with the audience and talk with a clear and audible voice. Ask students to share: three facts about their animal, why their animal is endangered and what is being done to save the species. They can also present their pictures. Remind students what it means to be a good listening audience.



Students can put up their reports and pictures on a bulletin board. For a center or a separate lesson, you could have your class make a bulletin showing different habitats or a world map and then place reports on them to match the animals' environment or region in which they live.


Pass out graded rubrics as feedback with comments.






Endangered Species Printables

Includes science research quest, rubric, endangered species list, and student mini-project.






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