External features of living things

Lesson objective

  • To capture students’ interest and explore what they know about the external features of a range of animals and group them according to their common features.
  • Introduce students to the language used to describe common external features of living things.
Students will have the opportunity to:
  • demonstrate what they already know about the common features of animals such as head, legs and wings through play
  • explore different ways of solving science questions through guided discussion
  • sort information and classify objects based on easily observable characteristics.

Setting the context

All living things have external features that help them survive in their habitats. Students will be familiar with their own external features, such as eyes, ears, nose, mouth, arms, legs and so on, but may not have considered how these features help them survive. In this lesson, students will play ‘Who am I?’ to practice using science questions to identify links between a range of external features and different types of animals. Students will then consolidate this knowledge to match a range of external features to familiar animals.

Lesson focus

The focus of this lesson is to spark students’ interest, stimulate their curiosity, raise questions for inquiry and gain an understanding of their existing beliefs about the external features of a range of familiar animals. These existing ideas can then be taken account of in future lessons.


Explain to students that you are going to play a game of ‘Who am I?’ and that you will choose students one at a time to pick an animal from the pile of flash cards and the rest of the class will need to guess what sort of animal the chosen student is by asking scientific questions.

Body of lesson

  1. Choose a student to start the game and allow them to pick a flash card of an animal. Give them a few moments to think about their animal before the other students start asking questions. You may need to provide some support in answering the questions for the other students.
  2. Record information about each animal on the board or in the class science journal under the heading ‘Who am I?’ as students ask their questions to support further discussion. You may need to guide the students in their questioning.

    Encourage questions such as:
    • Where does this animal live?
    • How does this animal move about?
    • What does this animal eat?
    • How does this animal find/catch/eat its food?
    When the students have guessed the animal, use the graphic organiser to discuss how the answers led them to the conclusion. Repeat the game for each of the flash cards.
  3. When the game is finished, have students complete the worksheet Animal body parts. Work through the animals on the worksheet with the class, asking questions such as:
    • How does the animal move?
    • Which parts of the animal help it to move?
    • How does the animal see?
    • What do you think the animal eats?
    • What body parts does the animal use to eat its food?
    • What kind of place does the animal live in?
    • How does the animal protect itself from the weather?
    • Can the animal protect itself from other animals?


Regroup in front of the class science journal and review the graphic organiser and worksheet. Discuss how living things look different and move differently because they are made up of different parts. Explain that we can describe these parts as ‘features’. Explain that each animal’s features help it survive in different places or habitats.