For Teachers

Letter to Educators



Why Study Rare Breeds?

ALBC Conservation Priorty List


~ K-2 Overview


~ 3-5 Overview



Farm Visits

Fourth Grade Unit: EXPLORE



• Structure and Function in Living Systems
• Diversity and Adaptations of organisms

What is an adaptation: behavior, body structure Specific animal adaptations


• Listening
• Observation
• Describe observed events.
• Develop questions on scientific topics


Students view Part Four of the slideshow to learn about adaptations and unique traits of rare breeds. This is followed by observations of feathers where they make observations and try to determine how different kinds of feathers serve specific functions. Next, pairs work together to identify the functions of specific traits found in card images, and the lesson closes with a detailed Power Point presentation defining adaptation.



Slideshow Part 4; AnCover.pdf, AnFeet.pdf, AnMouths.pdf, FeatherZipper.pdf; Adaptation2006.ppt, Latta.ppt. Feathers from the kit.



1. After briefly defining a rare breed, show part four of the slideshow.

2. After the slideshow, have a discussion about the content. Each of the reasons given to save rare breeds in the show: adaptations, usefulness, unique traits and scientific research relates to core concepts of: structure and function, and, diversity and adaptation.

3. When unique traits help an animal survive and reproduce, these traits are adaptations. When they prove useful to humans, such that humans will provide habitat for the farm animals to survive and reproduce - then they are again adaptations, shaped by human selection (rather than natural selection).

4. Do not dissemble the projector as you will return to it after the card game.



1. Hand out feather samples to groups of students. Each group will get both downy and flight feathers. Ask them to observe the similarities and differences of the feathers.

2. Have students explore the feathers for several minutes making observations.

3. Hand out hand-held microscopes or lenses for students to observe individual barbs on the feather and the barbules that "Velcro" together.

4. Demonstrate (by blowing) how flight feathers "blow open" in a strong wind, and "zip" closed in preening. FeatherZipper.pdf

5. (If time allows, do Wool observations and comparisons as well. See Supplemental Activities. )



1. At this point, students try to apply what you have discussed through a card traits game.

2. Using AnMouths.pdf, AnCover.pdf and AnFeet.pdf, give pairs of students one card. There are fourteen cards. Students study the images of feet and mouths. They try to determine the adaptation depicted in the image.

3. Have students record their ideas on a piece of lined paper. Be sure they write their names and a description of the image. There is no wrong answer. These are just ideas.

4. Once they have written them down, they can exchange with a nearby group or move on to the prompt card.

5. Hand out the prompt card to teams. This card gives them additional information as they try to answer the question: What is the adaptation shown here, and why is it an adaptation? For eight of the cards there are additional descriptions. Four six, there is simply the species (and breed in most cases) identified. For these (coverings) the students should try to determine the uses of hair, wool and feathers. Differentiate as you pass out cards.

6. Again, have students write down their ideas, and any new thoughts that have occurred with the added information. Student pairs then share their ideas with the class.

Alternatively: The cards are laid out so that they can be copied front and back, and student pairs simply directed not to turn their card over until they have recorded initial ideas.


POWER POINT ON ADAPTATION (Latta.ppt, Adaptation2006.ppt,)

1. Once students seem somewhat comfortable with the concept of adaptation, have them watch and take notes during the PowerPoint presentation of Adaptation. You can either choose the short example of Latta Planation in Charlotte, highlighting a variety of breeds used in a certain geographic location, or, use the long version (Adaptation2006.ppt, with 40 slides) and allow students to explore as appropriate.

2. There are several opportunities during the show to stop and ask them to record their thoughts or a definition.

3. The presentation defines adaptation. Students should take away from the show that adaptation can be a trait, a behavior or a process over time.

4. They should also know that an adaptation is anything that helps an animal survive and reproduce in a particular environment.

5. For domestic farm animals, survival depends on humans valueing the products of services animals provide. For domestic animals, products and services serve as adaptations, and the environment or habitat in which the animals survive and reproduce is the farm.

6. Students can then write a few sentences describing the influence of humans on the development and continuation of rare breeds.


Navigating the Unit

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

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

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