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Fourth Grade Unit: ENGAGE



• The characteristics of organisms
• Form and Function
• Habitats


• Listening
• Note taking
• Observation
• Non-fiction reading
• Research methods


For the first few minutes, the teacher performs a mock guessing game about Form and Function, followed by a brief discussion. Students then view slide set 3, Horns.


Slideshow, Slide set 3, with images of horned animals; drawing paper, crayons or markers.



1. With some degree of theatrics, walk up to a chair and say, "This is an awful bed! Who could possibly sleep on this? Look at it. It looks like it's only good for one thing!"

2. Move on to a pen. Pick it up, look at it. Look at the students and with emphasized disgust proclaim: "I can't drink with this. " As you pretend to try using it to wipe the table, add: "It's terrible for cleaning up spills!".

3. (The students are hopefully giggling a bit under their breath as the absurdity of the examples continues. ) Pick up someone's backpack. "Can I borrow this to call my Mom?" Look at them quizzically, "This doesn't look like it would work very well. "

4. Pick up a cup. "A hah! Now THIS will hold something to drink! This form is perfect for that function!"

5. "Look at that. Pick up an item of clothing. It looks like a perfect fit for a person – see, two arm holes, a place for the neck. I bet it's for a person to wear. It looks warm too. I bet they wear it to keep warm!'

6. As the students catch on, return to normal behavior and ask: "What does it mean when to say ‘Form reveals function?"

7. Discuss this idea. Revisit some of the examples. How does the form of the item (for example, the chair) reveal its function?

8. Animals have specific parts of their bodies that perform specific functions. As a human, you have a unique trait (shared by opther primates) that helps with the function of grasping. Do you know what it is? (The opposable thumb).



1. The teacher begins the Why Horns activity by showing images from slide show supplemental set 3 of animals with horns and simply asking, "Why horns?".

2. Students make guesses as to the importance and purpose of horns for animals. The teacher takes notes. The open-ended nature of the question is designed to facilitate discussion and to elicit many possible hypotheses.

3. Re-visit each image. Ask students to describe each animal's horns, including shape, texture, color, and thickness. Emphasize descriptive language.

4. Answer the following questions. You may keep a list of the answers or make a list as a review at the end of the discussion.

a. How do you think this animal might use its horns? How do horns help this animal to survive?

b. What are the advantages to people when their animals have horns? Some possibilities are: horns make useful and humane handles for people to use in holding animals; horns allow animals to protect themselves and their offspring from predators; horn shape and size makes for easier identification of individual animals in a herd or flock; the horn material may be used after the animal's death; and horn condition reflects the animal's health and condition.

c. What are the disadvantages to people when animals have horns? Possible answers include: injury to people or other animals; damage to equipment; inability to use certain types of equipment, such as "keyhole" feeders where the animal fits its head through a hole to get its feed; and damage to fencing.

5. After the discussion, have the students (or groups of students) make their own list of the ways horns are useful. Students can illustrate the list with pictures of animals with horns, especially animals using horns for different purposes.


Navigating the Unit

4th - 5 E Summary
4th - Engage
4th - Explore
4th - Explain
4th - Expand
4th - Evaluate
4th - Supplement

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Copyright 2006.

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