Animal Scales and Tails

LESSON TITLE: Animal Scales and Tails
TEACHER NAME: Jennifer Schupak
CLASS TIME: _45_Minutes _1_Days/week _1_# Session(s)
SUBJECTS COVERED – Science (Animals, Nature) Math (Patterns)


  • Students will understand and recreate patters made from letters such as C and V.
  • Students will demonstrate how to cut paper and paste with glue sticks.


  1. Crayons
  2. White Printer Paper
  3. Construction paper of various colors
  4. Glue sticks
  5. Scissors


Pattern– Repeating numbers, colors, letters which create an artistic design

Reptile – any cold-blooded vertebrate of the class Reptilia including tortoises, turtles, snakes, lizards, alligators, crocodiles, and extinct forms

Scales – Reptile skin is covered with scutes or scales which, along with other characteristics, distinguish reptiles from animals of other classes (except fishes). Scales are made of keratin and are formed from the epidermis.


As apart of a practice of classroom management I separate my students into 4 tables of 6. Three chairs on either side of long tables and on each table I have nothing but a number either 1, 2, 3, or 4. On small cards I wrote out the numbers 1-4 and have 6 of each number. I meet my students at the door and hand them each a numbered card to where they proceed to their table. I use the first minute of class to calm them down as I collect the numbers and explain to them what we will learn about in class today. I find that since I have new students each week in addition to the students who have been coming since the beginning that it’s not possible for me to give my students assigned seating. Unfortunately my class changes too dramatically from week to week to give them any more structure than this, but so far I am finding that this number system keeps them away from sitting at tables with their friends and helps them socialize with many students through out the period.


Children find patterns on reptiles and fish, liken them to alphabet letters, and draw textured skin. This is  an ideal way to follow up a trip to a zoo or aquarium! Since my students are new to this and we cannot take a trip I brought them books from the library.

I gave each table a book and told them to share and look at pictures to help inspire their drawings. I wanted them to look at the scales on snakes, fish, lizards. And to describe what they see. After we looked through the books I showed them three teacher examples of what I wanted them to do, And tol them instead of coloring in pictures, we will be drawing on the scales. We talked about skin textures and patterns. Fish scales sometimes look like the letter C, and snake skin looks like repeated patterns of the letter V. I asked them questions like “What do you think it would feel like to touch each animal?”

2. Use Fine Line Markers to outline an animal. Divide the animal’s skin covering into areas with lines. Fill each area with repeated patterns of a letter of the alphabet in several colors. Design each area with a different color or texture. For this part of my lesson would suggest to also draw this on a chalk board to help students fully grasp how and what they are drawing. If you don’t have a chalk board table to table demonstration will also work. Instruct other students at the other tables to look though books and figure out which animal they will draw. Tell them on a separate piece of paper to write a sentence or two about why they chose this animal. This will help you keep control of your classroom while you show each table how to draw the scales.

3. Have your students cut out the completed animal with  Scissors and glue onto contrasting construction paper with a  Glue Stick.

When my students were done I gave them a reptile word search.


Stockdale, Susan. Fabulous Fishes. Atlanta, GA: Peachtree, 2008. Print.

Townsend, John. Incredible Fish. Chicago, IL: Raintree, 2006. Print.

Wilson, Hannah. Life Size Reptiles. London: Anova, 2007. Print.

Williams, Brian. Amazing Reptiles and Amphibians. Pleasantville, NY: Gareth Stevens Pub., 2008. Print.


My students responded well to this lesson. I liked this one because it gave me the opportunity to teach my students about nature, reptiles, the kind of skin they have, and how fish and lizards both have scales but for different reasons. My students are very excitable and when I showed them the pictures pretty much freaked out because of how monstrous the animals looked. I used four books from the library about reptiles. I told them that the books are library books and to take good care of them. This lesson is also a great follow up lesson from a trip to a reptile exhibit at a museum or a zoo.

Here are examples of their work:


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