Chimpanzee, Like Me! – The Bigger Picture Lesson Plan

Grade Level: 3


¯    Interdisciplinary

¯    Language Arts/Reading/Listening and Speaking

¯    Science

¯    Research


Duration: 2 separate 45 minute sessions

Description: This is a lesson to guide students into seeing themselves as a part of nature, and into seeing how what is good for a human being is good for nature, and vise versa.  Students form small groups and pick an animal figurine from a bag.  As a group, they research the animal and then interact to consider what is the same in that animal as is in people.  They then demonstrate and discuss their findings with the class. By using Venn diagrams, students can point out what is obviously different, and surprise themselves by how much is similar. This can be part of a larger unit on teaching environmental stewardship, and this lesson can incorporate multiple intelligences.


¯    By finding what humans have in common with other animals, students begin to learn why it is important to take care of the environment as a whole. (Everyone benefits by preserving shared needs)

¯    Through practice of research and interaction, students learn to bring their different perspectives together to form a Òbig pictureÓ perspective.

¯    Students gain practice in research and public presentations.



¯    Students will be able to utilize basic library research skills to obtain information on a topic.

¯    Students will be able to bring learned information (from research) into a group discussion.

¯    Students will be able to complete a Venn diagram, identifying similarities and differences between people and another species.

¯    Students will be able to create a class presentation where each group member has something to contribute and gets to practice public presentation skills.




¯    Venn Diagram Worksheet (see Internet Resource below)

¯    Library access/books relevant to specific animals

¯    Paper/writing utensils

¯    Various animal figurines (one per group, preferably different classes of animals)

¯    A bag to hold the figurines




Day 1: Form groups of 5-6 students. A member from each group selects an animal from out of the bag. Be in the school library, or at least have enough books per species and per child in each group to practice book-based research. (ie – a group of 6 who drew an elephant would have 6 books on elephants available to them.)  Each group identifies its animal, then researches to learn the answers to the following questions:

  1. How does the animal move or use its body in ways that are similar to people?
  2. What kinds of food does this animal eat and are any the same as what humans eat?  Do humans compete with this animal for food?  Is this animal food for people?
  3. What kind of environment does this animal need in order to remain healthy?  What kind of weather, water supply, food supply, air quality does it need?  What are some illnesses common to this animal, and how does it show when it is sick? (many animals hide being sick) Do humans need the same conditions?
  4. What kind of family groups do these animals have and how do they raise their young?  How is this similar to humans?
  5.  How do these animals communicate?  What type of information do these animals communicate, and have they ever shown that they can communicate with people?
  6.  Do these animals do anything in their daily lives that is similar to what people might do, and do they do it in the same way? (eating, sleep, moving around their territory, play, defense) (ie – even though the animal might sleep during the day and be up all night, it has to find a safe place to sleep each night, it has to remain warm, and it sleeps for several hours at a time)

If the time frame needs to be shortened, or several books per species are not available, the teacher may suggest each member of the group research one of the questions listed above. Then during the group discussion, each student will have a unique piece of information to contribute.

Day 2: The groups discuss and refine the information they discovered in research.  They plan their presentation so that each member presents at least one point, and they present it in a way that suits them best (in a Multiple Intelligences way – linguistic, logical, spatial, kinesthetic, musical, inter/intrapersonal, naturalist) When each presentation is done (5-10 minutes per presentation) , the whole class concludes by discussing how the health of things like environment, food sources and social bonds are important to all animals, including human beings.

Assessment: Did each student practice researching, and obtain information individually? How well did students behave during the group discussion process? Did they respect each other's ideas? Were the class presentations well organized, did they address the sets of questions and did each student have their moment to practice public speaking/presentation? Did the students show and understanding of Venn diagrams in helping to compare/contrast a topic?