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Deer skeleton puzzle

Assemble a deer skeleton from the bones. Depending on the grade, they can work more or less independently from the teacher.
Science content (2016 curriculum): 
Biology: Features, Adaptations of Living Things (K, 1, 3, 7)
Biology: Food Webs, Ecosystems, Biomes (3, 4)
  • Deer skeleton, as complete as possible

Students assemble a deer skeleton from the component bones.
(My lumbar vertebrae up the wrong way up - the projection should be pointing up and forwards.)
Lay out a sheet to define an area that cannot be stepped upon.
It is nearly complete except for the smallest bones, and a lower leg.

Younger grades can chose a bone each and put it in place when asked.
Older grades can try and assemble it themselves with help from an image.
Advanced students can assemble with no help (the missing leg adds complexity to the puzzle).

Discuss who might have taken the leg away, and imagine the scenario.
Find the gnaw marks on a bone where likely a rodent chewed.
Find the missing tooth, and the ones that have overgrown on the other side without being worn away.
Discuss what happened to the skeleton once most of the meat had been eaten by other animals after it died - the decomposers and bacteria that cleaned the bones.

The skeleton is probably a white tailed deer, the most common deer in Virginia.
A few white tailed deer facts, from this link:
White tailed deer is a herbivore, eating green plants in the Summer; acorns, fruits and nuts in the Fall; and twigs in the Winter. They also eat fungi when they can find it.
They have few predators. Most commonly humans, sometimes fox and bald eagle.
They can run up to 60 km per hour. They are good swimmers. Their leap can be 2.5m high and 9m long.


Kelly 2010-2011
Ms. B 2009-2010
Romy 2010-2011
Ms Johnson 2008-2009

Grades taught: 
Gr K
Gr 1
Gr 2
Gr 4
Gr 5
Gr 6
Anke Barabulea
Julie Johnson
Kelly Smith
Romy Cooper
Teaching site: 
General Gordon Elementary
ingridscience afterschool
Activity originally developed and delivered: 

Gordon Elementary