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Reptiles Lesson for Middle School Biology

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I am a Christian. I was an 8th-grade American History teacher. I am currently a freelance writer, public speaker, & homeschooling mom of 9.

Reptile Lesson for Middle School Biology

Reptile Lesson for Middle School Biology

This is the 22nd lesson in a series of 32 hands-on lessons covering middle school biology. This lesson focuses on frog dissections. I used this plan while teaching a 55 minute middle school biology class. Each lesson plan includes homework assignments and a variety of hands-on activities to make each lesson engaging & memorable. Use these fun lessons with your classroom, homeschool, after-school program, or co-op!

These lessons are written for a class that meets once a week. If your class meets 5 days a week, simply do this lesson one day a week and use the homework assignments (at the bottom of the page) for the work for the other days of the week.

Homework Review & Reptile Presentations

1. Pass out tickets for students who did their homework and who did the extra credit.

2. Have each student who wants to share tell us which lizard they researched, show us their picture, and state one interesting fact about it. Next have students discuss the turtles, then snakes, and finally crocodilans. Students who share will each receive a ticket each time they share about one of the reptiles.

Reptile Overview Notes

Reptile Overview Notes

Reptile Review

3. Quickly review reptiles, taking brief notes.

  • Have students name the 5 orders of reptiles: 1) Sauria: lizards, 2) Serpentes: snakes, 3) Chelonia: turtles & tortoises, 4) Crocodilians: alligators, crocodiles, & gavials and 5) Tuataras.
  • What are some traits of a reptile? (cold-blooded, vertebrate, scaly skin that sheds, leathery eggs with amnion, etc.)
  • What is distinct about reptiles? 1) Their skeleton grows their entire lifetime. 2) Most have sets of paired limbs & ribs that extend the length of their body to their abdomen. 3) They have dry, watertight skin covered by scales made of a protein called keratin to prevent desiccation (water loss). 4) Their teeth are essentially the same.
  • One of the students had asked why a tuatara was different from an iguana as they look similar and both (in some species) have a third eye. A main difference is that tuataras do not have external ears like iguanas do. There are a few more smaller differences such as the tuatara preferring cooler weather, being nocturnal, and having a different vertebrae and rib structure. I also found this article, Tantalizing Tuatara, to be helpful as well.
Some of the reptiles and reptile items shown in class

Some of the reptiles and reptile items shown in class

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Reptile Show & Tell

4. Option A (what we did): Allow for students to each share about the reptile or reptile item they brought to class.

  • After students shared about what they brought it, other students could ask questions.
  • The pet owner could pass around the pet if she or he desired to do so.
  • I also brought in items we have (turtle shell, snake skin, etc.) to show just in case no one brought in anything.
  • Since it was extra credit, those who brought in something received a ticket.
  • I did bring antibacterial hand sanitizer for students to use after touching all the animals.

5. Option B: This year I happened to have multiple students who own reptiles as pets (or enjoy catching them outdoors), so we were easily able to have a class show-and-tell. Previous years I have had families outside of class come as guest speakers to show and share about their reptile pets. One year we were able to instead visit a pet store at which the owner led the students through his reptile collection and discussed each one.

6. Option C: Thankfully enough students brought enough animals and items to occupy the rest of class. If they hadn't, I was going to divide the class into 6 groups, assign each group a different reptile order plus 1 group would cover dinosaurs. Each group would research from the book about that reptile order, and then present 5 important or interesting facts to the class. I would have filled in gaps with additional important or interesting information after each presentation.

A Beka's Science: Order & Design science textbook

A Beka's Science: Order & Design science textbook


(Page numbers refer to the pages in A Beka's Science: Order & Design textbook.)

  • Friday: Read pp. 316-319, skipping Check it Out. Answer 5 questions of your choice from p. 322.
  • Monday: Read pp. 323-326, skipping Check it Out. Answer 4 questions of your choice from p. 328.
  • Tuesday: Read pp. 328-334, skipping Check it Out. Answer 7 questions of your choice from p. 335.
  • Wednesday: Read pp. 335-340, skipping Check it Out. Answer 4 questions of your choice from p. 340.
  • *Extra Credit #1: Do Check it Out on p. 339. You don’t need to keep or kill the insects. Just identify what you captured.
  • *Extra Credit #2: Sketch and identify 3 different insects that you find outside. On each insect be sure to note the antennae, mouth parts, and types of legs. (You might need to capture it in a jar to inspect it more closely.) You can get another extra ticket for doing this for 3 more insects. (6 in total = 2 tickets)

© 2019 Shannon

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