Daunting Defenses – Background

Plants and animals need defenses to keep from being eaten. Nearly all animals have predators of one kind or another, and eluding capture usually means running away, hiding, or both. But when avoidance fails and the predator gets too near, most animals still have an effective last line of defense. Plants need defenses too, for protection from the many animals that feed upon them. Plants can’t run away or hide, but they have evolved a diverse armory of useful adaptations for fending off herbivores. Continue reading Daunting Defenses – Background

Daunting Defenses – Activities

FOCUS:  Plants and animals have traits that help them avoid being eaten. Defenses like sharp spines, noxious odors, hard shells, and poisons are common in both plant and animal worlds. These last lines of defense help animals to fend off attackers at close quarters. Defensive adaptations help plants protect essential parts needed to produce and ripen seeds for the next generation.

Objective: To begin to explore and ask questions about defenses.

Give small groups of children a variety of items that are examples of natural defenses, and ask what they notice and wonder about them.

Materials: Defenses Set: examples of thorny stems, prickly shells, stinging insects, hard shelled nuts, quills, sharp antlers, etc.; Photos of Plant and Animal Defenses, magnifying lenses.

Objective: To use observations to describe patterns of similarities in plant and animal defenses.

Ahead of time, mount each Defense Puzzle on a different colored backing. Place at least two different puzzles at each station. Have the children work in small groups with an adult, each group starting at a different station. Now hand out a puzzle piece to each child and have them find the other pieces that complete their puzzles.
Continue reading Daunting Defenses – Activities

Daunting Defenses – Puppet Show

The Rascally Bandit Strikes Again


Characters: Rocky Raccoon, Patty Porcupine, Toby Turtle, Emmy Eft, Wally Worm, Renee Raspberry, Benjy Bear.

Raccoon Here is the Rascally Bandit, prowling in the dark, striking fear in the hearts of all defenseless creatures! And here comes some prey. Maybe he can catch it!

Patty Porcupine  Hello, Rocky Raccoon.

Raccoon  Oh, it’s you Patty Porcupine. Don’t worry. I won’t eat you.

Porcupine  Eat me? I guess not. With these quills, I’d be a prickly mouthful! Continue reading Daunting Defenses – Puppet Show

Daunting Defenses – Standards


The activities in this unit help children understand the basic concepts in the Disciplinary Core Ideas listed here. You can use the following list as a guide for lesson planning. These Disciplinary Core Ideas are taken from Grade Band Endpoints in A Framework for K-12 Science Education. Additionally, our activities give children opportunities to engage in many of the Science and Engineering Practices and reflect on the Crosscutting Concepts as identified in the Next Generation Science Standards. Continue reading Daunting Defenses – Standards