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Lesson Plan

Deer skeleton puzzle and bone study

Students look at real deer bones, assemble them into a deer skeleton, and discuss how this deer lived.
Science content (2016 curriculum): 
Biology: Features, Adaptations of Living Things (K, 1, 3, 7)
Biology: Classification of Living Things, Biodiversity (1, 3)
Biology: Food Webs, Ecosystems, Biomes (3, 4)
Activities in this lesson plan: 

Introduction (adapt for grade level):
Show picture of deer skeleton What part of an animal is this? [bones] We will be looking at the bones of an animal today.
What animal do you think this is a skeleton of? (grades 2 and up)/We’ll be looking at the bones of this animal. What animal is it? [deer] (grades K, 1).
You have bones to. (You are also a mammal.) Can you feel the bones inside you?

Show real deer bones
These are the real bones of a deer.
Our family found these bones in the woods. We cleaned with mild bleach so we can handle them.
I am passing each of you one of the deer bones. Touch it carefully and look at it closely. How does it feel?
Here is the skull. Find your own skull.

Find other students with similar deer bones to you.
Some of you have the same kind of bones as each other.
Stand up and find the other bones that look like yours. When you find them stand together.
Draw the bone/make a model of it in playdough.
While you are waiting, see if you can find which bones in the picture are the same as yours.

Assemble the skeleton
Sit the students in a circle, around an outline of a deer/sheet, with students holding similar bones sitting together.
Place the skull and the pelvis in their places.
Ask for bone shapes that match the deer skeleton picture, and add the bones to the skeleton.

Story of this deer
We found it on rocky ground next to a log. What might have happened to it? How did it die?
What is missing from the skeleton? [one lower leg] What happened to that?
What other animals ate it? Show chew marks on the skull. Pass around extra leg bone with teeth marks.
I think this deer might have had toothache. Show mismatched teeth in the jaw.
More information about the deer:

Compare deer bones to ours
Bring human skeleton into view.
Humans and deer have pretty similar skeletons. A deer walks on four legs but has a lot of the same bones.
Ask students to find which bones are the same in both skeletons, and ask students to find the same bone on themselves. (Talk about what each bone does in the body as they are found, or all after.)

What are skeletons for?
Discussion of what skeletons are for: Holds our body up. Protect our brain and lungs. Muscles attach to it.

Head bone connects to the neck bone....

Sheet/outline of deer, picture of deer bones and deer and human skeleton (see file), deer bones, human skeleton.

Grades taught: 
Gr K
Gr 1
Gr 2
Anke Barabulea
Kelly Smith
Teaching Site: 
General Gordon Elementary