Activities and Lesson Plans

Nature's Nursery
Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine, March 2009


You may print Nature's Nursery children's pages from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine. We hope you'll consider a subscription to our magazine. Be sure to check out the Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine special offer for teachers. And please let us know your suggestions for future issues at:


Suggested Topics: learned and inherited traits, parenting, habitat, survival, adaptations.

Related 4th Grade TEKS:
Language Arts:
4.1 A,B,C: Listening, Speaking, Purposes : Listens Actively and Purposefully in a Variety of Settings
4.5 A,B,C,D,F: Listening, Speaking, Audiences : Speaks Clearly and Appropriately to Different Audiences for Different Purposes and Occasions
4.9 B,C,E: Reading, Vocabulary Development : Acquires Extensive Vocabulary through Reading and Systematic Word Study
4.13 A,B,C,D,E,G: Reading, Inquiry, Research : Inquires and Conducts Research Using a Variety of Sources
4.1 A, B: Scientific Processes: Conducts Field and Laboratory Investigations
4.2 B, C: Scientific Processes: Develops Abilities to do Scientific Inquiry in Field and Laboratory
4.3 C: Scientific Processes: Uses Critical Thinking and Scientific Problem Solving to Make Informed Decisions
4.5 B: Science Concepts: Parts Removed from Complex Systems
4.6 A: Science Concepts: Change Creates Recognizable Patterns
4.8 A, B: Science Concepts: Adaptations Increase Survival
4.4 C: Number, operation, and quantitative reasoning: Recall and apply multiplication facts through 12 x 12
4.6 A: Patterns, relationships, and algebraic thinking: Use patterns and relationships to develop strategies to remember basic multiplication and division facts
4.11 Measurement (challenge activity using graph paper or image with grid to determine length, position and comparisons)

Discussion Questions

  • Name three interesting facts you learned about Texas animals after reading Nature's Nursery.
  • Which baby animal names were new to you? Does someone in your family have a baby name or nick name?
  • Pick out a behavior or adaptation and describe the how the adaptation is helpful.
  • Using the Student Page and the magazine, compare pictures of adults and their young. Describe how babies and their parents are the same and how they are different. Note that the picture of the deer on the Student Page has a companion picture with a grid. Have students practice their graphing skills by interpreting this image and comparing sizes and proportions of adults and young.
  • Think about parents and the role of parents. Can you find examples of good parents in the magazine?


  • Let students explore outdoors. Remind students that good observation includes looking up, down and under! How many animal babies can they observe in their own backyard, school yard or in nearby nature? Try these questions:
    1. Describe each of your animal babies. Do they have feathers, fur, hair, skin or some other kind of material covering them?
    2. How are they born? Do they hatch from an egg?
    3. Do they live in a nest or a den? How did the parent prepare this area? Were building materials used?
    4. Do they look like their parents or do they look very different until they reach a certain age? If they look very different from their parents, find out how they change to become like their parents as adults.
    5. Are their parents close by, or do the young ones go out on their own soon after being born?
    6. Why are so many animal babies born in the spring?
  • Using pictures or written names, try a matching game of young and parent. This can be done as a game of "concentration" where you turn the pictures face down and try to find matches, or have the children wear the pictures or names on their backs and through "yes-no" questions see if they can guess what they are.
  • Have students choose one of the species in the magazine and do some research. Learn about how it looks when it is born, how long it take to mature to adulthood and whether the parents take an active role in rearing it. Use this as an opportunity to discuss learned and inherited traits.
  • Try a vocabulary challenge! Sometimes it's fun to explore new and challenging words. Using the vocabulary list, assign each student a different vocabulary word to learn and describe to the class through words, drawings or pictures.

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