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~ K-2 Overview


~ 3-5 Overview



Farm Visits

Second Grade Unit

Leading Question: What is the life cycle of an individual, and how are individuals related to their families and their communities?


This unit introduces the life cycle of an individual organism, and then expands to place this individual life within the contexts of the family that passes along inherited traits, and the community or environment where additional traits are learned. Using farm animals as the window to understanding abstract concepts, students participate in the hatching out of baby chicks, do egg experiments ("eggs-periments"), and visit the farm that will become their chicks' new home.

Through the farm visit and subsequent activities, students practice differentiating birds from mammals, become familiar with many different species of farm animals and expand their understanding of the life cycle. Students see how individuals are born into families and families belong to communities (a flock or herd). They learn the names of parents, offspring and groups of different species, and the differences among these species when it comes to the specifics of their life cycle (such as how they raise their young, how long before offspring are independent, how they eat or gather food, how they reproduce - egg versus live birth - and how long they are expected to live. ) While at the farm, students utilize the farmer as a resource and gather information about different species life cycles and unique traits. They review their findings once back in the classroom and play a traits game to secure their understanding of traits as either inherited or learned/environmental. The unit closes with small groups doing species specific life-cycle performance: "chart, art and act".

The use of the term "cycle" can be confusing since the animal dies and does not begin the cycle again. Their body decomposes and feeds the soil which nourishes new life for plants, which then in turn eaten by animals but the next step after the death of a cow, for example, is not rebirth as a new baby cow. . The life cycle also refers to the family line continuing on, which occurs when offspring are born. Offspring start the cycle again; it could be called the life spiral.

Key Concepts


• Animals have life cycles that include being born, developing into adults, reproducing, and eventually dying. The details of this life cycle are different for different organisms.


• Animals closely resemble their parents.
• Many characteristics of an organism are inherited from the parents of the organism, but other characteristics result from an individual's interactions with the environment.
• Reproduction is a characteristic of all living systems.
• The characteristics of an organism can be described in terms of a combination of traits.
• Every organism requires a set of instructions for specifying its traits.
• Heredity is the passage of these instructions from one generation to another.
• In many species females produce eggs. (The role of sperm in reproduction is generally introduced in upper elementary grades. )


• Animals move, grow and change over time.
• All organisms must be able to obtain and use resources, grow, reproduce and maintain stable internal conditions while living in a constantly changing external environment.
• Explore the benefits of diversity.
• Students recognize similarities and differences in individuals, families, and groups.


Critical Skills:

• Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry
• Develop descriptions, explanations, predictions and models using evidence.
• Describing observed events.
• Think critically and logically to make the relationships between evidence and explanations.
• Use mathematics in all aspects of scientific inquiry.

Navigating the Unit

2nd - 5 E Summary
2nd - Engage
2nd - Explore
2nd - Explain
2nd - Expand
2nd - Evaluate
2nd - Supplement
2nd - Embryology Project

Noah's Ark Today is property of the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.
Copyright 2006.

American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, PO Box 477, Pittsboro, NC 27312