Righteous Reptiles
Lesson Overview

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Grades 2-4


Two 45-minute class periods


This lesson introduces students to some fascinating members of the reptile kingdom, focusing on lizards and snakes. Students first view segments from the NATURE episode “The Dragon Chronicles,” where they will learn about several kinds of cobras, a python, and two lizards – the water monitor and the Draco, the “flying dragon.” Students will complete a chart comparing and contrasting lizards and snakes, learning about key features shared by all reptiles as they do this. They will then focus on defense mechanisms, using information from the video and web resources to compile a list of various strategies that snakes and lizards have developed as adaptations for protection from predators.  Lastly, they will complete a writing and drawing assessment summarizing their knowledge of one of the snakes or lizards featured in the video segments.


Living Environment/Biology


Students will be able to:

  • Name the key distinguishing characteristics of reptiles;
  • List several types of snakes and lizards, describing unique features of each;
  • Describe defense strategies used by different snakes and lizards;
  • Interpret information about reptiles presented in video segments;
  • Use a Venn diagram to compare and contrast features of snakes and lizards;
  • Write a summary sheet describing features of one species of snake or lizard.


National Science Education Standards:

Standards available online at: http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=4962&page=127

Life Science

Content Standard C

As a result of activities in grades K-4, all students should develop understanding of:

The Characteristics of Organisms

  • Organisms have basic needs. For example, animals need air, water, and food; plants require air, water, nutrients, and light. Organisms can survive only in environments in which their needs can be met. The world has many different environments, and distinct environments support the life of different types of organisms.
  • Each plant or animal has different structures that serve different functions in growth, survival, and reproduction. For example, humans have distinct body structures for walking, holding, seeing, and talking.
  • The behavior of individual organisms is influenced by internal cues (such as hunger) and by external cues (such as a change in the environment). Humans and other organisms have senses that help them detect internal and external cues.


NATURE: The Dragon Chronicles, selected segments

Clip 1: “Cobras and Pythons”

Three different snakes demonstrate their defense strategies.

Clip 2: “Water Monitor”

Water monitors in Sri Lanka are very intelligent and coexist with humans easily.

Clip 3: “Draco”

Draco is a flying lizard in India’s rainforest.

Access the streaming and downloadable video segments for this lesson at the Video Segments Page.

Web sites:

Reptiles: Defense on Yahoo Kids

This page has pictures of different reptiles demonstrating the ways they defend themselves. (NOTE – if you do not have computers for student use in your classroom, print the information here for your students).

Centralpets.com – Central Lizard Page

Directory of lizards commonly kept in captivity, including Draco (Flying Dragon) and Water Monitor.

Snakes – with Kidsbiology.com

Short descriptions and photos of snakes, including King Cobra, Spitting Cobra, and Reticulated Python.


For the teacher:

  • Righteous Reptiles Video Organizer Answer Key (PDF) (RTF)

For each pair of students:

For each student:


Prior to teaching this lesson, you will need to:

Preview all of the video segments and Web sites used in the lesson.

Download the video clips used in the lesson to your classroom computer, or prepare to watch them using your classroom’s Internet connection.

Bookmark the Web sites used in the lesson on each computer in your classroom. Using a social bookmarking tool such as del.icio.us or diigo (or an online bookmarking utility such as portaportal) will allow you to organize all the links in a central location.

Print and copy the student organizers mentioned in the “Materials” section.


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