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Explorer's Guide
The Exterior of John G. Shedd Aquarium

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Aquarium Poetry

Lesson Summary:
Observational skills are a tool that every good scientist has learned to master. Students will use this tool to connect to animals at the Shedd Aquarium to their adaptations. Students will follow up with creative ways to express their observations.


Form and Function

3, 4, 5

Pre Visit Lesson
  • My Science Notebook (Teacher Backgrounder)
  • Pencils/ colored pencils/ markers
  • an object to practice observing
    At Shedd Lesson
  • My Science Notebook (Teacher Backgrounder)
  • Pencils/ colored pencils/ markers
    Post Shedd Visit
  • Completed My Science Notebook (Teacher Backgrounder)
  • Pencils/ colored pencils/ markers

    Students will:
  • use multiple observational skills.
  • be able to give and explain at least two different animal adaptations.
  • write a diamante poem using proper grammar and format.

    180 mins

    Goal 11 Standard A
    Goal 12 Standard B

    Language Arts
    Applying Knowledge
    Applying Language Skills

    Teacher Procedure:

    I. Pre Trip Lesson: 60 mins

    1. Prep for the lesson by printing off enough copies of “My Science Notebook” for all of your students.

    2. Begin the lesson by asking your students of they know the word “adaptation.” Take a few suggestions from the class. If they aren’t sure of what it means, let them know that an adaptation is something about animal’s body that helps an animal live in its habitat or home.

    3. Ask them if they can think of some examples. Some examples include webbed feet on ducks to help them swim, camouflage on frogs to hide them from predators, or thick fur on sea otters to keep them warm. Tell them that they will be looking for examples of adaptations during their field trip to Shedd Aquarium.

    4. Ask students what senses they might use to discover different adaptations on their field trip. Explore ways that students could use both their eyes and their ears to make observations.

    5. Practice observation skills on something in class, such as a class pet, an inanimate object, or yourself! You can also use a picture of an animal if you choose. Students’ observations should focus on physical or behavioral features. You can suggest features such as body shape, color or movement.

    6. If using an animal, students should also record things that they notice about the animal’s habitat. Is it on land or in water? Are there plants? Rocks? Is it light or dark?

    7. Students should also write down adjectives, action verbs, and nouns that relate to the animals that they are observing and record them on their exploration journal.

    8. They should record their observations into their exploration journals along with sketches of the animals.

    9. This next step can be done either before the trip or during. Have students select two animals that they want to observe. Since each exhibit at the aquarium is based on a different environment, use a map to plan where students will go to find their animals. (You can also use the “Explore by Exhibit” option on the Website.)

    II. At Shedd Lesson: 60 mins

    1. Using their “My Science Notebook”, have students make observations about two animals. Remind them to keep in mind adaptations of the different animals and to take specific notes about things that are unique to the animal they are observing. Have them use the same skills they practiced in the classroom repeating steps 5 through 8 in the Pre Visit Lesson.

    III. Post Visit Lesson: 60 mins

    1. Have students use their observations from the field trip to make a diamante poem. Explain to students that a diamante is a seven-line poem that compares two different subjects. The number of words in each line makes the final poem diamond-shaped. The different subjects could range from an egg to a penguin, a shark to ray, a beluga calf to an adult beluga, or an orange sea star to a purple sea star. Even animals that are closely related can be drastically different.

    Line 1: one word (the first subject)
    Line 2: two words (adjectives that describe the first subject)
    Line 3: three words (“-ing” words that relate to the first subject)
    Line 4: four words (two nouns that relate to the first subject and two nouns that relate to the second subject)
    Line 5: three words (“-ing” words that relate to the second subject)
    Line 6: two words (adjectives that describe the second subject)
    Line 7: one word (the second subject)



    slimy, straight

    waiting, ambushing, eating

    fish, reef, snake, river

    striking, squeezing, swallowing

    camouflaged, scaly




    oval, white

    waiting, cracking, hatching

    chick, nest, cold, Antarctica

    swimming, diving, floating

    monochrome, feathery



    2. Have students display their poems around the classroom or have them share with the class.

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