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What is Special About Me

Grades 2 and 3
Science and Technology

Lesson Plan


The students will view photos of animals from the National Parks Service web sites and identify similarities and differences among animals.  They will then select a project to complete.


Students will research animals at specific national sites and compare the physical features of those animals that help them survive.


  • Two in-class sessions (30 to 45 minutes) for teacher-led lessons on national sites and comparison of animal characteristics.
  • Three or four independent or in-class sessions (30 to 45 minutes) for Internet research and completing projects.

Materials List

  • Internet access
  • Materials to create brochure, poster, card game, or other final project (construction paper, poster board, markers, colored pencils, glue, etc.)
  • Chart "What is Same or Different" copied onto white board or poster paper.


  • National site
  • National Park
  • National Forest
  • National Seashore
  • National Battlefield
  • National Park Service
  • Climate
  • Wildlife
  • Species
  • Same
  • Different
  • Animal
  • Feature
  • Survive


  • Describe the America The Beautiful Quarters Program™ to provide background information.  Explain that the back of a coin is called the reverse and the front is called the obverse.
  • Have the students examine both sides of the coins on the US Mint Web Site.  Using a class map, direct the students to locate each of the 2010 sites.
  • Guide the students through a discussion on animals at one of the selected National Sites.
  • Show the students photos of two animals from one of the National Parks Service web sites and have the students generate a list of the physical characteristics that the selected animals have in common and a list of the characteristics that the animals do not share.  For example, if the animals were a rabbit and a mountain goat, the students might list long ears, four legs, and fur as characteristics in common.  They could list horns and possibly hooves as features that are different. 
  • Ask the students to share how some of these characteristics might help the animal survive where they live. 
  • The students will then use their knowledge of similar and different characteristics to complete a project highlighting those features.


  • Use the students' class participation, research, and final products to evaluate whether they have met the lesson objectives.
  • Use the appropriate rubric to evaluate student performance on the project they select.

Differentiated Learning

  • Allow the students to work in pairs to research the national sites or create their products.
  • Teachers may help the students by pre-selecting the animals for comparison and generating sentence starters to help the students describe the features.
  • Provide templates for the students to use in completing their selected project.

Connection to



National Science Education Standards (

  • Students use a variety of technological and informational resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, videos) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.
  • As a result of activities in grades K through 4, all students should develop an understanding of the characteristics of organisms and environments.


International Society for Technology in Education (

  • Research and Informational Fluency:  Students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information. 

United States Department of Education National Technology Plan

Helpful Hints

  • Help the students with descriptive words throughout the lesson by using a word wall with useful example words.
  • In advance, select two animals from one of the national sites and research their characteristics to use as examples to guide the students in their work.
  • Provide examples of posters or brochures for the final project.

Student Version


  • Research animals at national sites in the United States.
  • Choose 3 sets of two animals to study carefully and compare.
  • Create a brochure, poster, card game, or other product about the animal characteristics studied.

Step-By-Step Directions

  1. In class:  Your teacher will introduce you to the national sites and the America the Beautiful Quarters™ Program.
  2. Look at the words ears, eyes, and legs on the board.  Brainstorm other body parts animals might have (such as fur, feathers, and wings).
  3. Examine two photos your teacher will show you of two animals from the Yosemite web site and explain what is the same about the animals and what is different.
  4. Go to one of the national sites and click on "Animals."  Click through the photos of mammals, birds, and reptiles, and find one thing the animals have that is the same (long ears, four legs, fur, etc.) and one thing that is different (long/short ears, fur/feathers, etc.).  Record your observations on the "Same and Different" worksheet.
  5. Discuss how those features help the animal to survive.  For example, how would longer ears or white fur help a rabbit survive in Yellowstone?
  6. Print and read the "What is Special About Me" project guide.  Make sure that you understand all of the directions.  You will create a poster, brochure, or card game about your animal or animals and their characteristics.
  7. Complete your project.  Use the rubric to make sure you do your best work.
  8. IN CLASS:  Share your work with the rest of your class.

Related Links


The Department of the Treasury Seal