Kristin T - Animal Adaptations

Lesson Plan-7th Grade Life Science

Designed for 95 minute class periods in the 4th quarter of 7th grade life science. 

 Content Standards:

 3. Biological evolution accounts for the diversity of species developed through gradual processes over many generations. As a basis for understanding this concept:

a. Students know both genetic variation and environmental factors are causes of evolution and diversity of organisms.

e. Students know that extinction of a species occurs when the environment changes and the adaptive characteristics of a species are insufficient for its survival.


Students will:

1.) Understand bird adaptation on type of food supply.

2.) Deduce what beaks are most efficient for obtaining given foods by experimenting with

     imitation beaks and given food sources.

3.) Describe what will happen to a bird population if its environment can no longer support the

      bird's food source.

Prior Knowledge:

Students will understand the reasoning used by Charles Darwin in reaching his conclusion that natural selection is the mechanism of evolution (Standard 7.3.b). The key terms species, adaptation, evolution, scientific theory, natural selection, and variation will have been introduced and defined. 

Students will also be able to identify the factors that affect the process of natural selection including overproduction, variations, and competition. 

Prior to this lesson, students explored the diversity of animals through group projects and identified the differences between large groups of animals (phylum, subphylum, class, order). 

Bird Beak Adaptation Lab


Scoop (3)

Eye Dropper (3)

Chop Sticks (6 sets)

Envelope (2)

Pliers (2)

Tweezers (4)


Test Tube Holder (3)

Graduated Cylinder

Candy Worms

Seeds (Peanuts/Sunflower/Pistaccio)


Plant Leaves

Cotton Balls


Marshmellows and String

Containers/Bowls (8)

Data Sheet

Lab Station directions (unique to each lab station)


Pre-activity Discussion

Discuss the different bird beaks and food sources using common birds the students may be familiar with (see "Fill the Bill" attachment). 


 Each lab station represents a different habitat where birds gather their food.  The tools at each station (“habitat”) represent 3 different types of bird beaks.  Your group will move to each habitat to test which type of bird beak best fits with the habitat food.  


1.     As each station becomes available, move as a group to that station.

2.     Follow the directions on each challenge card.

3.     Remember to record your data in the data table. Do not graph averages.

You will need to fill in the names of the tools for Challenges 3-8 in the data table.

4.     Before leaving the station, return all materials to their original places.


This lab is to illustrate and explore different type of bird beak adaptations based on the food source for that particular species. 

Students will go around the room to lab stations and follow the directions at the station. The stations provide three different types of bird beaks for one food source. Students will then record the length of time it takes to complete the challenge. After the activity, students will use their knowledge to answer the questions on the worksheet. 

There are many versions of this lab which can be changed and customized for different lessons and geographical areas. 

Bird Beak Buffet

Lessons on the Lake

The Birds and the Beaks

Shorebirds-What Can I Eat With This Beak?

Another variation

Adaptation and Variation


Online Stopwatch

Great Bird Photographs



1. What is an adaptation? Why are adaptations important to life on earth?

Norman Herr,
Apr 12, 2011, 8:40 PM
Norman Herr,
Apr 12, 2011, 8:40 PM
Norman Herr,
Apr 12, 2011, 8:40 PM
Norman Herr,
Apr 14, 2011, 5:59 PM
Norman Herr,
Apr 12, 2011, 8:41 PM