Righteous Reptiles
Lesson Activities

INTRODUCTORY ACTIVITY

1)      Explain that the students will watch some video segments featuring different snakes and lizards. Provide a focus for the students, asking them to figure out what the main form of defense is for each animal they see.

2)      If your students have good writing skills, distribute the “Righteous Reptiles Video Organizer” to each student to help them organize their thoughts (if you have younger students, you can review the information orally without distributing the organizer).

3)      Tell the students that they will see three different snakes in the first video clip. Remind them to figure out the defense mechanism for each one! Play segment #1, “Cobras and Pythons”, for the class. Once the segment has completed, give students a few minutes to complete the first section of the organizer and review the information students noted (an Answer Key is provided).

4)      Repeat for Video Segments 2 and 3 (each of these segments features one type of lizard).

5)      When all the segments have been viewed, lead a discussion with the students about the animals they saw in the video. How many snakes were there? How many lizards? What were some of the special abilities of the snakes and lizards they saw?

LEARNING ACTIVITY 1 – COMPARING SNAKES AND LIZARDS

1)      Divide the students into pairs. Distribute the “Snake/Lizard Comparison Chart” to each pair. Using what they have learned so far about snakes and lizards, have the students complete the Venn Diagram with the names and characteristics of lizards and snakes (characteristics shared between both lizards and snakes should fall in the center, overlapping, region). You may want to prompt your students by posting a list of possible items for the chart in a visible place in the classroom. The list might include:

  • Reticulated Python
  • Draco
  • King Cobra
  • Water Monitor
  • Indonesian Spitting Cobra
  • Have legs
  • Dry, horny scales
  • Claws on feet
  • Cold-blooded
  • Breathe air
  • Good sense of smell
  • Shed skin as they grow
  • Etc.

2)      Review your students’ charts as a class. You may want to recreate the chart on the board and fill it in with student responses. (From the items above, the “Lizard” category should include Draco, Water Monitor, Have legs, and Claws on feet. The “Shared” category should include Dry, horny scales, Cold-blooded, Breathe air, Good sense of smell, and Shed skin as they grow. The “Snake” category should include Reticulated Python, King Cobra, and Indonesian Spitting Cobra). Add other items the students think of to the chart.

3)      Review the shared characteristics of reptiles in the chart. Ask the students what other reptiles exist besides snakes and lizards? (Turtles and crocodilians.) Ask the students if other reptiles will share the same characteristics that are shared between snakes and lizards? (Yes.) Can they name any ways that turtles and crocodilians are different from other reptiles? (Turtles have shells. Crocodilians have hard armor-like plates in their skin. Turtles and crocodilians all lay eggs – whereas some snakes and lizards give birth to live young and some lay eggs.)

LEARNING ACTIVITY 2 – REPTILE DEFENSE

1)      Remind the students of the different defense strategies they saw in the video clips. How many different ways of defending themselves did the students notice? (Venomous bite, spitting venom, suffocation, using tail as a weapon, and flight).

2)      Ask them to brainstorm other defense mechanisms other snakes and lizards might use. Come up with a preliminary list on the board.

3)      Have the students view the page Reptiles: Defense on Yahoo Kids (students can navigate to the page in groups at computers, or you can print the information for the students). Have them make a list of the defenses used by snakes and lizards, giving an example of the reptile that uses this defense.

4)      Complete the list on the board with the new defenses students have learned about.

5) Ask the students why lizards and snakes have to defend themselves? (They have to protect themselves from predators.) Lead a discussion about why there are so many different kinds of defense mechanisms. (Defense strategies are adaptations that reptiles use to protect themselves from predators. Different animals develop different ways of defending themselves. Predators may learn how to defeat some defense strategies, but having a different form of defense than one’s neighbor means that predators will have to learn how to defeat many defenses, which may help the prey stay alive!)

CULMINATING ACTIVITY

1)      As an assessment, ask each student to pick ONE of the snakes or lizards that was featured in the video segments they saw (King Cobra, Spitting Cobra, Reticulated Python, Water Monitor, or Draco). They will write a summary sheet describing the animal, including its means of defense and examples of special features that make it interesting. They should also include a sketch of the animal.

NOTE – younger students may find the “Righteous Reptiles Summary Sheet” organizer helpful to guide their work. Older students can complete this as a free-form assignment. To conduct further research and/or find photos of their chosen species, use school encyclopedias or direct the students to the Centralpets.com – Central Lizard Page, or the KidsBiology Snakes page.

2)      Collect the summary sheets to assess student learning.

Produced by THIRTEEN    ©2014 THIRTEEN Productions LLC. All rights reserved.

PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.