Animal adaptation STEM teaching pack

Last updated: 15/11/2023
Contributor: Teachit team
Animal adaptation teaching pack front cover
Main Subject
Key stage
Includes answers
Resource type
Teaching pack

Explore animal adaptations in Arctic and Antarctic ecosystems in this project-based teaching unit packed with fun STEM activities for upper KS2 learners. Hands-on activities provide engaging ways to learn about what adaptations help animals to survive in different habitats and why animal adaptations are important

Who is this STEM teaching pack for?

Our Animal adaptations STEM teaching pack is designed to teach and reinforce the concepts in a year 6 primary science unit on animal adaptations and can be used in conjunction with existing curriculum materials.

Pupils will build background knowledge of animals in polar ecosystems and use their research skills to deepen their knowledge. Teacher demonstrations, experiments and investigation of specific adaptations like the flying squirrel and pufferfish will allow pupils to explore how a range of living things adapt to live in different ecosystems in a fun and practical way. Pupils make use everything they’ve learned to plan and design an animal adaptation which they will later demonstrate and present to the class. 

What’s included?

This STEM teaching pack is divided into five milestones intended to be taught over five hour-long class periods. It includes daily activities that are presented in step-by-step order with detailed teaching notes, instructional guidance, and page references to the teaching resources, activity sheets, worksheets and lesson materials in the teacher pack and pupil pack. 

For teachers

  • Detailed lesson plans and accompanying teaching notes with suggestions for formative and summative assessment, pupil inquiry questions, extensions and enhancements. 
  • Teacher resource pack with teaching resources, printable activity sheets, worksheets with answer keys and lesson materials.

For pupils

  • Pupil resource pack with clear instructions and guidance, full colour printable activity sheets, worksheets and plenty of fun activities all about animal adaptations.   

How is this STEM pack structured?

This teaching pack is divided into five milestones which, if done in sequence, connect to enable learners to produce a final project on animal adaptations for polar habitats. Each milestone of this animal adaptations teaching pack includes a self-contained pupil project activity. 

Daily activities are organised as follows:

  • Prepare (Bell-ringer/opener activity)
  • Present (Lecture/model)
  • Produce (Pupil project work)
  • Participate (Pupil/group share)
  • Practice (Homework/assessment/independent)

What's inside?

Milestone 1: Building background knowledge about polar animal adaptations

  • Complete KWL grid
  • Identify where polar animal habitats are using globe/map
  • Generate questions about animal adaptations
  • Research animal adaptations

Milestone 2: Understanding how adaptations aid in survival

  • Watch a teacher demonstration showing animal adaptation (flying squirrel)
  • Start to plan a way to demonstrate their animal’s adaptation
  • Explain how an adaptation helps an animal’s survival

Milestone 3: Demonstrating how animal’s adaptations work in nature

  • Carry out bird beak adaptation investigation
  • Plan the materials and resources needed for their demonstration
  • Plan a way to demonstrate another animal’s adaptation (pufferfish)

Milestone 4: Plan, design and create an adaptation demonstration

  • Carry out demonstrations and make necessary adjustments
  • Plan and practice presentations
  • Explain importance of perseverance

Milestone 5: Demonstrating an adaption

  • Actively listen and judge other group’s presentations
  • Present their own projects
  • Reflect on learning to choose their own adaptation

How to use this STEM teaching pack

This project-based STEM learning unit on animal adaptations should be completed in around five hour-long lessons. However, it’s completely flexible and can be lengthened or shortened as necessary, based on available lesson time and interest level.

Use the step-by-step lesson plans in the teaching guide to work through each milestone to develop pupils’ knowledge and understanding of how living things can adapt to survive and thrive in their ecosystems.  

For more science teaching resources explore our STEM teaching pack collection, browse the full collection of science resources for key stage 2 or have a look at Teachit Primary’s entire teaching pack collection.

We'd like to thank colleagues at for allowing us to re-use their original content.

An extract from the teaching pack: 

Polar animals quick quiz

Directions: Read each question. Circle the most appropriate answer. Use information from your research to complete the sentences.

1. Which of these animals lives in the Arctic Circle?

A. Penguins                                            B. Caribou

C. Albatross                                           D. Weddell seals

The Arctic Circle is located


2. Which of these is an adaptation that helps polar animals survive the cold?

A. Long claws to climb trees     B. Thick fur to                                                                     stay warm

C. Blubber for insulation           D. Broad hooves to                                                            walk in snow

Another adaptation that helps polar animals survive the cold is                                                          


Animal adaptation: STEM teaching pack
Free for Premium Subscribers.

All reviews

There are no reviews yet. Have you used this resource?