Lesson video

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An adaptation is basically something that an animal or a plant has that helps them to survive.

Today you will need a piece of paper, an exercise book, lined paper, plain paper, whatever you have is absolutely fine.

You'll need a pencil to write your answers with.

You'll need a colouring pencil to mark your answers in a different colour, but also we're going to be doing some drawing today.

So you might want to get more than one colour today and have a few options.

And you'll also need a ruler, please.

We are going to need these star words for our lesson today.

So we're going to practise saying them.

And most of them I will explain as we go through the lesson.

So the first star word for us today is characteristic.

So I'm going to say it and point to me.

And then when I point to the screen like this, you're going to say it.







And organism.


So an organism is anything that's alive.

So it's a living thing.

So an organism could be an animal, a plant, a micro-organism.

And microorganism's are organisms that are micro, so small you need a microscope to see.

Although in this unit, when I say organism, I'm mostly talking about plants and animals.

Okay, the other word I want to talk about before we begin is environment.

So we're going to be looking at the different environments that organisms might live in.

And when I talk about environment, I just mean the surroundings in which the organisms live in.

So my environment at the moment is inside my house in my living room or my sitting room here, okay.

It's just the surroundings in which I live, okay? And I am an example of an organism.


So characteristics are the physical features of an organism.

So they're how you would describe an organism.

So my characteristics are that I am very tall, which you can't see because I'm sitting down, but I am, I promise you.

And I have blonde hair and blue eyes and so on.

Those are my characteristics, okay? We're going to be learning about the characteristics of different animals and plants in today's lesson.

The other words.

You might already know what they mean, but we're going to define them as we go through the lesson.

This is our plan for today.

We're going to look at some different environments.

We're going to look at matching animals to the environments.

Then we're going to look specifically at what an adaptation is, which is going to be our key learning for the whole unit.

And then we're going to look at some examples of adaptations.

I've chosen some of my favourite to share with you.

And then at the end of the lesson, we're going to design our own organism, which should be a fun way for us to apply what we've learnt.

So let's start off with looking at some different environments.

So here is an environment that we might be familiar with here in the UK.

This is a pond.

So what are the conditions that you would find in this environment at this pond? So basically, I'm asking you to describe the environment you can see on the screen.

So I want you to think about what the temperature would be like.

What's around you in the environment? Are there lots of plants? Is there water? If you're an organism, what would there be to eat? So again, think about plants.

What other organisms might be there? What's the main colour of the environment? Okay? I want you to pause the video and write down as many things as you can think of, as many conditions as you can think of to describe this environment.

Pause the video and complete that for me now, please.

Great, so let's just discuss some of the things that you might have written.

So you can see in this environment that there is lots of greens.

So you might have described the colour as mostly green.

There are lots of plants in this environment.

You might have described grass, rushes, trees.

You might have used your imagination and thought, "I know what animals could be in this environment." There might be ducks.

There might be birds in the trees.

There might be frogs.

There might be insects in the grass.

You might have described the water and the pond.

And I'm sure there are lots of other things you could have written down as well.

We're going to think about a different environment now.

This is a desert environment.

What are the main differences between the pond environment we just thought about and the desert environment? What're the main differences? What are the conditions in this desert environment? Think about what you can see, and if you've learned about deserts before, then you can think about your prior knowledge about that as well.

Pause the video and jot some ideas for me down, please.


So one of the main differences would be that there's no water in the desert, or at least there's very, very little water.

So that's a big difference you might have written down.

Deserts are really hot.

So the temperature here is going to be very different.

The colour, and the colours that you find in a desert are very different.

So here, the main colour is a kind of orangy red sand.

And the types of food and animals that you're going to find are very different as well.

So whereas in the pond ecosystem, we were probably able to, sorry, pond environment, we're probably able to list lots of different animals that we might find there.

In the desert, you can see, there are not very many plants and not very many animals.

So those are some of the main differences.

I'm going to show you one more example, and I want you to list down all the conditions for this environment.

This is an extremely cold environment.

This is actually in the Arctic.

Can you pause the video and write down the conditions for this environment? Great, so these are some of the things that you may have written down.

It's very cold.

It's very white.

That's kind of the predominant colour you can see, because there's lots of snow and ice.

There's also lots of water in that environment, which makes you think there might be fish in the sea.

There's not very many plants.

And I'm kind of using my knowledge of the animals that I know that live in cold environments.

And there might be predators, including polar bears, seals, and whales.

Okay, this is not an exhaustive list.

You might have found more things than me.

The point of this is just to get us thinking about how different different environments are across the world, okay? And to think about some of the conditions that we can use to describe those environments.

So now we're going to see if we can match an animal to this environment.

So we're thinking here about our extremely cold environment in the Arctic.

Which animal do you think is best suited to living in this environment? A polar bear or a tree frog? Which is most likely to survive? So imagine you've just plopped a polar bear and plopped tree frog on the base of that snowy mountain, which is most likely to survive in this environment? If you know it, say it to your screen.

It's a polar bear.

And you might be thinking, "That's quite obvious." Okay, but let's think a little bit about why.

Why is the polar bear best suited to live in this environment? I want you to think about the polar bear's characteristics.

So those are its physical features.

So for example, a polar bear has white fur.

That would be one of its characteristics is how I would describe it.

So now can you please pause the video and write down a list of the polar bear's characteristics that you think might help it to survive in this environment.

So how would it survive in the cold? How would it survive and catch its food? How would it hunt prey? I was going to say stay away from predators, but polar bears don't really have any predators, but why, what characteristics mean that polar bears don't really have any predators, any animals that can hunt and kill them? Can you pause the video and write a list of all the characteristics you can think of, please? Great, so you might have got something similar to me.

I'm sure that you were able to think of more, but these are some of the main ones that I came up with.

So the polar bear has white fur.

It has thick fur.

It can swim, and it has sharp teeth and claws.

So just pause the video and edit your answers if you need to.

You can add any of these in, and give yourself a tick for all of your correct answers.


Now, each of these characteristics of the polar bear helps it to survive in the cold environment that we're looking at.

And each of these characteristics of the polar bear matches up with a condition of the environment.

So let me show you what I mean by that.

So here was our environment.

These were some of the conditions we wrote down.

We said that the conditions of this environment.

In fact, read them with me.

This environment is cold, white, lots of water and fish in the sea.

So those are some of the conditions.

And then these were the characteristics that we wrote down for the polar bear.

White fur, thick fur, can swim, sharp teeth and claws.

And you can see that each of these conditions and characteristics matches up.

And this is why the polar bear is so well suited to live in this environment.

So the thick fur of a polar bear helps it to live in the cold because it keeps it warm.

A bit like if we were to wear a thick coat in the winter.

White fur helps it to survive in a white environment.

So we've talked about how the main colour in this environment was white, because of all the ice and snow around.

And the polar bear's white fur helps it to blend in.

It means it's harder for it to be spotted when it's hunting its prey.

It's important that whatever it's hunting, if it's a seal, it doesn't see the polar bear coming until it's too late.

And its white fur helps it to blend in and to achieve that.

It can also swim, which is really helpful, because there is lots of water in this environment.

Because the ice is constantly melting and refreezing.

And you get big, we call them ice floes.

They're basically big chunks of ice.

And the polar bear would need to be able to swim between those ice floes.

It's very important that it's able to swim.

It also helps it to catch its fish in the sea.

But so do its sharp teeth and claws.

They help the polar bear not just to catch fish, but to hunt and catch its other prey, such as seals.

I've been trying to think of more prey of the polar bear.

Might have to come back to you on that.

I nearly said penguins, but that's not true.

Polar bears and penguins live in completely opposite poles of the world.

So penguins dominate, sorry.

Polar bears dominate the North Pole, and you find polar bears in the North Pole, in the Arctic, and you find penguins in the South Pole, in Antarctica.

And actually they never cross.

So if you ever see any pictures online of a polar bear and a penguin together, it's fake.

They don't actually live together.

They both live in cold environments, but completely different cold environments.

Okay? I'm going to explain to you what an adaptation is.

So these were the characteristics that we listed for our polar bear.

And we could have listed many more.

So I could have said, for example, that the polar bear has a black nose, or it has small eyes, or it has soft ears.

And those would all be characteristics.

But those things that I just mentioned, like the polar bear having a black nose, they don't help it to survive.

You can describe its nose as black, so it's a characteristic, but having a black nose doesn't help the polar bear to survive.

Having a nose might because it can smell things.

But the fact that its nose is black doesn't help it to survive.

These four characteristics that we've already spoken about, white fur, thick fur, can swim, sharp teeth, and claws, those do help the organism to survive.

They do help our polar bear.

And we've just had a look at why they help.

Because these characteristics help our polar bear to survive, we actually call them adaptations.

What do we call them? So these adaptations help our polar bear to survive.

And that's what our definition of an adaptation is that we spoke about briefly at the beginning.

So an adaptation is the characteristic of an organism that helps it to survive.

Can you read that with me so that it helps to stick in our brain? The characteristic of an organism that helps it to survive.

Okay, so we're going to come back to that definition over and over again in this unit.

Because our whole unit is about adaptations.

Before we go on, I just want to talk about some things that can be a bit confusing about adaptations.

So the first is that they take millions of years to appear, and they evolve, they appear over many generations of animals.

So a polar bear isn't going to just wake up one day with a new adaptation.

All of a sudden, it's got an extra claw that's really sharp that's going to help it get its fish.

It doesn't happen like that.

They develop in organisms over millions and millions of years.

Unfortunately, an organism can't choose its adaptations either.

So a polar bear can't wake up and then the next morning choose that it wants to have x-ray vision so it can see through ice floes.

It doesn't work like that either, okay? So adaptations take a really long time to appear in organisms. Organisms can't choose them, but they are really helpful for their survival.

Let me show you a different animal now.

This is a lion.

It is a female lion, a lioness.

You can tell because it doesn't have the big mane.

Now I'm going to show you four characteristics of this lion.

So these are four ways that you could describe this lion.

It has beige fur.

It has soft ears.

It has a good sense of smell, and it has sharp teeth and claws, okay? Those are just four of the characteristics to describe this lion.

Three of those are an adaptation, which means they also help the lion to survive.

Which one is not an adaptation? Which one is an odd one out? So go through each and think in your head, how would that help the lion to survive? And if it doesn't, then that's your odd one out.

That's the adaptation.

So pause the video and see if you can figure that out for me now, please.

Did you get it? Soft ears is the odd one out.

Soft ears do not help our lioness to survive.

Her ears might, but the fact that they are soft do not help her to survive.

Just an added bonus.

Okay, here's another animal.

This is a red kite, and this is a bird of prey that's found in the UK.

It's actually really, really common in an area of England called Oxford.

So if you live near Oxford, you might see these, or if you drive through Oxford, you might see these in the sky.

And I'm going to show you four characteristics.

Wings, very good eyesight, yellow beak, sharp talons.

Can you figure out which one is not an adaptation? Which one does not help our animal to survive? Pause the video and write it down for me, please.

So the answer is yellow beak.

So well done if you figured that out.

So our wings help it to fly, which is very important for how it gets around and catches its prey.

It has very good eyesight, again, important for spotting its prey.

And its sharp teeth and talons.

Again, really good for capturing and killing its prey.

So red kites would eat small animals.

Things like mice, other rodents, maybe small birds.

A yellow beak doesn't help it to survive, okay? It's yellow, just because it's made of something called.

Well, it has a substance in it called keratin that makes it yellow.

And if a bird has a yellow beak, it's really bright yellow, then you know it's really healthy.

But the fact that it's yellow doesn't help it to survive.

So it's a characteristic, but it's not an adaptation.

Good job.

Now I'm going to show you some examples of some really cool adaptations.

So we're going to be learning a lot of different adaptations as we go through this unit.

But I'm just going to share some of my favourites with you today.

So the first thing I want to talk about is camouflage, which was one of our keywords.

Now you might already know what camouflage is, which is fantastic.

And I have hinted about it, but I haven't used the word yet this lesson.

Camouflage is when an organism is able to blend in to its surroundings.

So it's the same colour, or the same pattern.

So there's an example here of an owl that is very well camouflaged.

You can see not only is it the same colour as the tree trunks, but it also has similar patterns.

So if we can see the bird.

But if you were far, far away, it would be quite hard to see it.

Why do you think camouflage might be an important adaptation? Why does it help animals to survive? Well, for two reasons.

It could be because it helps them to hide from predators, or it could be because it helps them to hide from their prey when they're hunting their prey.

Here's another example of an animal that's really well camouflaged.

This is a parrot that is the same colour as the foliage, the leaves, that it predominantly lives in.

I have a challenge for you after the lesson, I would suggest looking up a video of something called a cuttlefish.

So a cuttlefish is extremely good at camouflaging with its environment.

And it's a cephalopod, which is the same kind of animal as an octopus.

An octopus is actually very, very good at camouflaging as well.

And the reason that they're so cool is, and it can't really be done justice in a photo, is because they can change their colour.

So they can blend in to different environments.

So if you have time, and you're interested after the lesson, then I would do a Google search for cuttlefish camouflage or octopus camouflage and see if you can find some cool videos that I unfortunately was not able to show you today.

Okay, I'm going to show you a plant next.

This plant is called the corpse flower.

Now, you might not know this, but a corpse is actually another word for a dead body, which is quite gross.

So why do you think the corpse flower might be called that? It's because, this is really gross, so prepare yourself.

If you're squeamish, you want to skip this bit.

It's because the corpse flower smells of dead bodies.

And the smell is so strong that it can be smelled really large distances around the flower.

Gross, right? It's also a really huge flower.

This doesn't show you the scale of it.

There's two types of corpse flowers found in different parts of the world.

And both of them are humongous.

So I think they can get to about two metres, which is kind of the height of an adult.

So corpse flowers have a really strong smell, and we think that it's an adaptation to attract pollinators.

So pollinators, the most common pollinator we learn about is bees, and bees are often attracted to nice smelling flowers and bright smelling flowers, but different pollinators like different smells.

And a dung beetle is the kind of beetle that lives in kind of rotting, decaying material.

So we think, scientists think that its smell attracts pollinators like beetles that like the horrible smell of rotting.

So there's a great adaptation for you.

This is an Alaskan wood frog.

And this little frog has a really cool adaptation that allows it to survive through freezing winters.

So you might've learnt before about hibernation, where some animals go into a really long, deep sleep during the winter.

Well, these Alaskan wood frogs take that a step further.

They're a bit more extreme.

And they actually freeze their body solid.

They stop breathing altogether.

Their heart stops beating.

And they basically become like a little frog ice cube, which is really cool.

And it allows them to survive in really low temperatures.

And then in spring they thaw slowly, and they slowly come back to life.

So they can do this because they store lots of sugar in their body cells and muscles and tissues.

That's very cool.

Okay, last one for today.

This is a kangaroo rat.

It's a type of rat, but it's named after a kangaroo.

I wonder if you can figure out why.

What are kangaroos famous for? I'm giving you a clue.

Yeah, jumping really high.


So this is a kind of rat that is found in deserts, and it's able to survive without ever taking a sip of water, which is pretty impressive.

Instead, they get all the moisture that they need from the seeds that they eat.

And they also have incredible hearing.

And they can jump up to nine feet.

So that's why they're named after a kangaroo.

So nine feet is really tall.

It's probably roughly one and a half of your parents or adults, okay? So that's so tall.

And that helps them.

That's an adaptation that helps them to survive because it means that they can avoid predators.

You'd be pretty good at avoiding a predator, whatever it is, maybe a desert snake, if you could jump, nine feet in the air when it came close to you.

Okay, so can you remember step one? It was to choose our environment.

Now, you can choose a real environment or an environment that actually exists, like a rainforest or a pond environment, any of the ones that we've looked at this lesson.

However, next lesson, we're going to really focus in on real environments and learn a bit more about their condition.

So this lesson, I would suggest using our imagination and making up an environment, okay? So that's what I'm going to do.

And I would encourage you to do the same.

You are more than welcome, as we're going through this under the visualizer, to use some of my ideas, especially if you're struggling to think of your own.

However, again, I would encourage you to pause the video, give yourself some thinking time, and come up with your own ideas.

Because this is going to be fun and a good chance for you to use your imagination.

So for my environment, well.

We're going to make it up, so it could be anything.

It could be an alien planet that has loads of volcanoes on it.

Maybe it's a different planet that is all made out of ice.

Maybe it is something like candy land or sweet land.

Completely up to you.

For me, I'm going to combine kind of a real environment with a made up one.

And I'm going to create a chocolate swamp.

That's going to be my environment.

Okay, I'm going to show you under the visualizer now.

So I'm using a plain piece of paper just so that my drawings are more clear and I've got the whole page in order to do it.

However, whatever you have is absolutely fine.

Before I start, there are two things I'm going to set up.

The first is that I'm actually just going to draw a line down this part of my page.

Like this.

Now, it doesn't need to be exact, but it is about a 7 1/2 centimetres, okay.

Because I'm going to need to write some things here.

And then this big section I've left is where I'm going to draw my picture of my environment and my animal later.

Okay, then at the top of my big section, I'm going to write my title, which for me is chocolate swamp, because that's what my environment is going to be.

Chocolate swamp.

Okay, I'm doing this in pen.

And I'm actually doing it in quite a thick pen, because I want it to be really clear for you to see on the screen.

If whoops, excuse me.

Sorry, I just banged my knee into the desk.

If I was you and doing it at home, I would probably be using pencil so that if I make any mistakes, I can go back and rub them out.

Okay, and then I'm going to start to draw my chocolate swamp.

So a swamp is kind of like a boggy marshy area.

Drawing this, it's a bit like a pond.

So I'm going to draw here, and I'm going to add some labels as I go using my ruler.

So that it's really clear where everything is.

So this is my chocolate, whoops, pond.

There you go.


It's not very neat.

I nearly wrote my chocolate pong, which I guess could be appropriate if its a smelly pond.

And then I'm going to think about what else might be in my environment.

I think I'm going to have, hmm.

I'm going to keep it I think quite marshy and boggy all around.

So I'm going to draw some plants around the side of my pond.

And in fact, if I'm going to stick with my chocolate theme, then I might make each of these a little chocolate button plant.

Okay, I'm going to add some more details.

I think I'm going to make mine quite kind of sandy all around.


Now, mine's quite simple.

You can add some more details to yours and come up with your own environment.

Before I ask you to pause and do yours, I'm just going to show you the next thing.

I'm then going to make a list of conditions for my environment.


And I'm going to number them.

The reason for that will be obvious later.

So it's important that you number them.

So number one, I'm going to put, well, I'm going to write my chocolate pond.

Because that's one of the main features I'm going to put that there are plants.

That's one of the conditions.

So if it was a desert, then there wouldn't be lots of plants.

And I'm going to put that it's sandy.



I would expect you to have probably more than three conditions, aim for about five.

You can now pause the video and create your environment.

So remember to add some labels and then write a list of your conditions on the side.

Pause the video and complete that for me now.


Now that we've got all our conditions written down for our environment, we're going to choose an adaptation that would match up to each of those conditions.

Kind of like how we did that with the polar bear at the beginning of the lesson.

And then once we've done that, we will draw our organism and add labels.

I'm going to show you what that looks like under the visualizer.

So now we're going to think of the adaptations that our creature is going to have.

So I'm going to write adaptations here, and I'm going to make a list.

It might seem a little bit weird to come up with the adaptations and then the creature, but you'll see we need to decide the adaptations first.

And we're going to base them on each of these conditions.

So you'll do it for your conditions that you have written down.

But I'm going to have to think about my specific conditions.

So my creature, my organism, whatever it's going to look like, is going to have to survive in this environment.

So how is it going to survive with the chocolate pond nearby? Is it going to need to be able to swim? Is it going to need to be the same colour as this chocolate pond? Maybe it's going to eat from the chocolate pond? Okay, so we need you to think about how our animal is going to survive in these.

So I'm going to put that it's going to be brown in colour so that it camouflages with my chocolate pond.

And also it's going to need to be able to swim.

Because my animal is going to have to swim through the chocolate pond.

Now, thinking even more about how it's going to be able to swim, chocolate is much thicker than water.

So I'm probably going to give my animal paddles for arms so that it's easier for it to swim through that thick liquid.

Okay, now I'm going to move on to my second condition plants.

So we've got these little chocolate button plants.

I'm going to think what adaptation would my animal have that would allow it to kind of make the most of these plants.

So maybe it's their food source and it needs to eat them.

So what kind of body parts or characteristics would you expect an animal to have who's going to eat plants like this? Maybe it needs quite sharp teeth.

Because it's going to need to snip the stems so that it can eat those chocolate buttons.

Or maybe it has a really long tongue, a bit like a frog maybe.

So it can flick its tongue out to catch the chocolate button on the top.

Okay, and finally, number three, I decided that it was sandy all around my kind of swampy pond.

So I guess maybe my organism is going to need to dig into the sand.

Or maybe it will have kind of spotty browns so that it blends in with the sand.

Okay, so I'm going to put spotty pattern.

And I guess if it has paddles for arms, then it could probably use those paddles for arms to dig as well.

Okay, so now we have all our adaptations, step four is to draw our organism and label it.

Now, this is going to be really fun.

We need to try and come up with an organism that has all of these things.

You might want to make a draught version first and then draw it into your environment afterwards.

So in fact, I might have a go at doing that.

So I'm just grabbing some scrap paper.

Okay, I'm going to practise first and see if I can fit all of these things onto my organism.

So I've decided that my organism is going to be I guess kind of like rain drop shaped like that.

He's got a long tongue.

It's got a spotty pattern.

So I've done long tongue.

I've done spotty pattern.

He's going to be brown.


So I'm going to colour him in brown later.

Oh, he's got paddles for arms. Okay, and that's so that he can swim well and dig well.

So I'm going to draw him big paddle-like arms. Okay.

And those are the main things I've got down here.

It's going to be able to swim.

So it's probably going to need a tail as well of some sort.

And although it's not on my list, I can now add in the other things that my organism is going to have, like eyes.


And its mouth.

And then any other characteristics you want to add.



So that's my rough draught.

If you've done your draught and you think, "Hmm, actually I'd like my organism to be a different shape where I can add more things in," then that's fine, that's your chance to redraft.

And then you're going to go, and you're going to add it into your environment here.

So let's see if I can recreate this.

My long tongue, eyes, and dots.

There we go.

And the last thing you're going to do is you're going to add labels to your organism.

So for example, spots.

You can write, oops, there you go, spots for camouflage.

And if you haven't already, you might want to add some colour to your diagram and think of a name for your organism.

Pause the video and have a go at doing that now.

Great work.

Let's end our lesson just with a quick recap of our star words.

So we learned today about organisms. And organisms are any living thing, including animals and plants.

We learned about some different environments, and we're going to look next lesson in more detail at some different environments that we found.

Environments are the surroundings in which organisms live in.

And you can describe those surroundings by listing their conditions.

We also looked at the characteristics of different animals, and we learned that adaptations are characteristics that help an organism to survive.

And lastly, we looked at camouflage, and camouflage is an example of an adaptation.

It's where an organism can blend in with their environment.