Advice, Resources

Teaching Science with Art: Animal Adaptations for Kids

Teaching science with art has so many benefits. Without fail, several students come into my classroom each year with a self defeating attitude about science. They mistakenly believe they can’t learn science, or they aren’t GOOD at science. Maybe in the past their science education has been confined to the pages of textbooks or worksheets. Maybe they never got to touch things and make a mess. Maybe they never got to create anything. Whatever the reason, I strive to make sure there is something for ALL students to love about my science classes. Teaching science lessons with art is an extremely effective way to engage and increase interest with a broad range of children. It can also build confidence in students who may not normally consider themselves “scientists”.

teaching science with art animal adaptations for kids
Scientific illustration skills were in demand before technology.

Teaching Science with Art

If you really think about it, in the dark ages before photography and computers, artistic skill was almost assuredly a prerequisite for the aspiring biologists and engineers of the world. If you wanted to completely document a new species, you needed to be able to illustrate it. Science and art have a long history together, and I have been so excited to watch the emergence of STEAM in science classrooms around the country. Finally, I have a chance to create science and art lessons that other people might actually use!

I am a visual learner myself, so I have always incorporated many visual aids and color coding techniques to help students with retention. I would like to share my new project–teaching animals adaptations for kids through art–with you. However, before I tell you about this exciting new activity, I want to tell you WHY I created it.

teaching science with art animal adaptations for kids science activity

I have always loved art AND science. My undergraduate degree is in graphic design, but I double majored in nursing. I loved biology and chemistry so much, but I could never reconcile how to do both things together…I thought I had to choose just one.

Eventually, I ended up getting my teaching certification after realizing graphic design and photography were dying professions. By pure chance, I landed in my very own science classroom. It took some time to dust the cobwebs off and relearn concepts long forgotten, but now the projects I create are a reflection of my passions…a way to consolidate both of the things I love. I hope you enjoy this FREEBIE and preview of my latest project.

Science + Art: Animal Adaptations

teaching science with art animal adaptations for kids

Grade Level: 3rd – 10th  |  Duration: 90-120 minutes  |  Content: Animal adaptations, Environments, Biomes, Structure and Function

Academic Vocabulary: adaptation, structure, function, environment, habitat, biome


Each set will include five unique and realistically drawn organisms to help your students identify structure and function using art, cut & paste, and critical thinking activities. Great for a project, science center station, home school, review, or even sub packets!

A wonderful addition to the STEAM classroom.

Students will first create a detailed grid drawing. This is a great technique for beginning artist to use, illustrating one box at a time rather than trying to draw an entire image at once. It also gives them an opportunity to focus on the unique structures of each organism.

Once the grid is complete, they will cut out the example image and identify the structure(s) and function(s).


Each set includes 5 different options for your students to choose from. I have discovered that allowing even the smallest choice drastically improves student output. The choice goes beyond just which project to complete. Each student may notice different adaptations for each organism, and the activity differentiates itself because of that fact. Lower students should be able to identify the most obvious structures and functions, while accelerated learners will discover things YOU may not have even thought of. I have not included an answer key for this reason. Each project will have a variety of correct answers.

teaching science with art animal adaptations for kids bobcat

I hope you will add a splash of art to your science instruction. Don’t forget to try this activity out here for free!

NEXT: Teaching taxonomy? Make sure you read this!

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