1st Grade - Sneaky Snakes and Lizards!

Grade Level: 1st Grade

Lesson Developer: Kim Johns

Lesson Plan Title: Sneaky Snakes and Lizards!

Concept / Topic to Teach: Exploring and comparing the characteristics, habitats, and environments of the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake, and Desert Iguana who reside in the Sonoran Desert.

Standards Addressed: Science Standard Strand 4: Life Science

                                    Concept 1: Characteristics of Organisms – Understand that basic structure

                                    in plants and animals serve a function.

                                    PO 1:   Identify the following as characteristics of living things:

·         growth and development

·         reproduction

·         response to stimulus

PO 2:   Compare the following observable features of living things:

·         movement – legs, wings

·         protection – skin, feathers, tree bark

·         respiration – lungs, gills

·         support – plant stems, tree trunks

Concept 2: Life Cycles – Understand the life cycles of plants and animals

PO 2:   Identify similarities and differences between animals and their parents.

Concept 3: Organisms and Environments – Understand the relationships among various organisms and their environment.

PO 1:   Identify some plants and animals that exist in the local environment.

PO 2: Compare the habitats (e.g., desert, forest, prairie, water, underground) in which plants and animals live.

General Goal(s): To learn about the characteristics, habitat, and environment of the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake, and Desert Iguana.

Specific Objectives: The student will research facts regarding the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake, and Desert Iguana. The student will construct a diorama depicting the habit and characteristics of these reptiles.

Required Materials:


            Internet access

            Sonoran Desert Explorers Website (https://sites.google.com/a/asu.edu/sonoran-desert-explore/system/app/pages/sitemap/hierarchy)

            Xtranormal Website



Materials for diorama

            Box or other appropriate container


Various art materials (see this website for some ideas: http://www.ehow.com/how_5606385_make-desert-diorama.html)


Anticipatory Set (Lead-In): To some people it might be a jungle out there, but here in Arizona it is more like a desert! Especially to these three creatures: the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, the Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake, and the Desert Iguana. They call the Sonoran Desert their home – and they love it! Join me in watching the videos for each of these desert creatures and find out more about them on the Sonoran Desert Explorers website. Then you can have some fun making a cool diorama to show your class, friends, and family.


Step-By-Step Procedures:

-          Watch the Xtranormal video for each of the desert creatures listed.

-          After each video, go to the Sonoran Desert Explorers website and investigate each snake and lizard.

-          Talk about each creature: where it lives, what it eats, etc.  Explain that all three of them are reptiles.

-          Have the student write a few of the facts they remember and like about these desert reptiles.

-          Explain the steps of making a diorama and the materials needed to do so.

-          Have student construct diorama at home with parents help and bring to class within a week.

-          Have all the students display their diorama and have a ‘Desert Walk’ to view them.

-          Have the students take the assessment at the end of each reptiles profile on the Desert Sonoran Explorers website.


Plan for Independent Practice: The student will complete his/her diorama at home with the help of a parent. Send home instructions and the website addresses to assist them.

- Closure (Reflect Anticipatory Set): Now we know a little more about our desert friends. How do you think you would feel if you really had the chance to meet them? That might be a little scary, but we can admire them from a distance and learn to respect their desert homes.

- Assessment Based On Objectives: The assessments for each reptile can be found on the Sonoran Desert Explorers website; they can be taken before or after the ‘Desert Walk’ presentation.

- Adaptations (For Students With Learning Disabilities): Parents can help the student draw a picture or try to create a diorama, depending upon their abilities.

- Extensions (For Gifted Students): Gifted students could create a Venn diagram and PowerPoint presentation comparing/contrasting the habitats and characteristics of each desert creature. These findings could be presented during the ‘Desert Walk’.

- Possible Connections to Other Subjects: Art, Geography, Ecological Awareness, Science