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Case-lesson "Secrets of the animal world"

Category: Science, Nature, and Human being

Level (class): 1 – 4

Topic: Natural phenomena

Objective: Reveal the secrets of the animal world; understand the role and importance of animals both as part of the environment and as a part of human civilization.

What information is waiting for me here?
  • Which animals are the most intelligent?
  • Why does zebra have stripes?
  • How many needles does a hedgehog have?
  • What mathematical knowledge can animals share with you?
  • Which animals have become symbols of countries and why?
  • Which animals inspired artists?
5 scans of the subjects, phenomena and practices:

Animals are cute and predatory, big and small, domestic and wild ... Probably each of you has your favorite animal and maybe not even one. And some people have a pet at home. Nevertheless, the animal world is full of surprises. After all, scientists constantly face with new interesting facts that allow you to look even at familiar animals in a new direction.

So, let`s try to reveal some secrets of the animal world.

Nature study

Let's try to find the answers to some interesting questions related to animals. For example, do you know why zebra is striped? Why zebra has white and black stripes?

Those of you who are already interested in this issue, most likely, found the most common explanation. It is easier for zebras to hide from predators in African plants.

However, scientists are not satisfied with this explanation, and they decided to check it out. Scientists at the University of Calgary and the University of California at UC Davis conducted experiments to measure the distance at which predators and zebras themselves are able to distinguish these black and white stripes in different times of the day. Resultes of their discovery was significantly different from those that was expected. Zebra’s stripes cannot be used as an effective disguise! Even if the lions do not see them, they are still able to smell them. The experiment showed that after 50 meters in the daytime or after 30 meters at dusk it is still difficult for predators to distinguish the stripes.

At a moonless night all the animals find it difficult to see the stripes farther than 9 meters away which proves their uselessness for camouflaging among trees or in tall grass.

So, what are the stripes for? Instead of protecting against jaguars or lions the stripes are in fact effective against other enemies of zebras like gadflies and tsetse flies. The pattern of narrow stripes makes the zebras unattractive to insects due to the light waves that are reflected from the wool.

So, the stripes are really needed to protect the zebras just from another scourge!

Have you seen a woodpecker? Do you think it is tired of his work? Does its head hurt? Scientists are also interested in this question. And that's what they found out. The woodpecker's head does not hurt because his long tongue prevents it! It is so long that it can be wrapped around the skull! It works as an airbag for a car:

The green woodpecker,which is shown in the photo, has the longest tongue (photo flickr.com/photos/nikkorglass)

And which animals are the smartest? Many of you have probably thought about monkeys, dogs, elephants or dolphins. Among the intellectuals of the animal world there are also other species!!

Oddly enough, but the intellectual leaders among domestic animals are pigs!

Their intelligence even exceeds the mental abilities of cats and dogs. A pig can easily and quickly understand the mirror works. She gladly looks at her reflection. Scientists are still unable to answer whether they are able to identify the reflection in the mirror with themselves like primates or they cannot.

Pigs very quickly get used to the daily routine and are well oriented in time.



Now you will play in teams one very interesting game. Each team has a sheet with a sign. The left column contains interesting facts about animals, and the right column is empty. Your task is to read, think over each fact, discuss it with the whole team, and write in the right column the name of the animal, about which, in your opinion, the fact is .


Do you know how many needles does a hedgehog have? Scientists estimate that each hedgehog has almost 10,000 needles.

And all these needles will help you to learn how to solve Math problems with the unknown.

Do you know the meaning of an unknown number? Usually in Mathematics the Latin letter “x” is used. So, if it met you in some expression, it means that on it’s place is some unknown number.And now, you will learn how to find these unknown numbers! Imagine a family of 8 cute hedgehogs:

Hedgehog’s mom had a lot of needles, but it’s unknown how much exactly it has . The first hedgehog had 18 more needles than his mother.The second one had 9 less than the first. The third hedgehog had 36 needles less than mother. The fourth had 27 more than the mother hedgehog. The fifth one had 45 more than his mother, and the sixth one had 9 less than the fifth. The seventh hedgehog had exactly the same number as the first hedgehog. How many needles had the mother hedgehog and each of her cubs if together the hedgehog family had 79.995 needles?

We do not know how many needles a hedgehog had, therefore we shall denote this number by “x”. Then we will use this “x” to record the number of needles for each hedgehog.

In order not to get confused we suggest to use a table. You should create a table, because it is very comfortable and clear!

You can see that for some hedgehogs the expression can be simplified that is perform additions or subtractions:

Now let's “collect” our expression. How many needles does a hedgehog family have? It is necessary to add the number of needles a hedgehog mouther and each of the hedgehogs:

Х + (Х+18) + (Х - 9) + (Х - 36) + (Х +27) + (Х + 45) + (Х + 36) + (Х + 18)

We could not put the brackets, but they make visual expressions that relate to each of the hedgehogs. This way you can check if any of the hedgehogs were accidentally missed. Checked out! What to do next? You already know the total number of needles. It is given to you in the statement. So, you can equate an expression with this quantity! As a result, you get an equation solveing which you will find the unknown number!

Х + (Х+18) + (Х - 9) + (Х - 36) + (Х +27) + (Х + 45) + (Х + 36) + (Х + 18) = 79.995

Then you can simplify the equation by “collecting” all the “x” and all the numbers ( by opening the brackets):

8Х +18 - 9 - 36 + 27 + 45 + 36 + 18 = 79.995

Do not forget to check our calculations!

8Х + 99 = 79.995

You should know for sure how to solve such a simple equation. Transfer 99 to the right side:

8Х = 79.995 - 99

8Х = 79.896

How to find a multiplier if another multiplier and an outcome are known? Divide the outcome by a known multiplier!

Х = 79.896 : 8

Х = 9.987 needles.

So mom hedgehog has 9.987 needles. Almost 10,000 as the scientists said. How many needles do her babies have? In order not to miss any of the hedgehogs, you should return to the table and add it with a line with answers:


Mom-hedgehog Hedgehog № 1 Hedgehog












is unknown 18 times more than mum has


 9 times less than the

hedgehog №1 has

 36  times less than mother has


 27 times more than mum has


 45 times more than mum has


 9 times less than the hedgehog №5 has exactly as much as the hedgehog

№1 has

Х Х + 18 Х +9 Х - 36 Х + 27 Х + 45 Х + 36 Х + 18
9.987 needles 10.005 needles 9.996 needles 9.951 needles 10.014 needles 10.032 needles 10.023 needles 10.005 needles

If everything is calculated correctly, then the sum of all the needles should be equal to the one that was given in the statement of the problem.


9.987 + 10.005 + 9.996 + 9.951 + 10.014 + 10.032 + 10.023 + 10.005 = 70.896 needles!



Now try to create a similar task by yourself. Just remember that the number of hedgehogs’ needles must be an integer!

I am in the world

Animals are not only part of the environment and its living component. Some animals become part of the culture of human civilization, symbols of countries or cities. No wonder that so many images of animals are used in heraldry. However, some of them are fantastic and do not exist in nature. Do you know what heraldry is?

Heraldry is a part of historical science that studies the emblems of different countries, families or communities.

Which animals perpetuated themselves among the symbols including heraldic?


Kangaroo is a national symbol and the main pride of people in Australia. In this country kangaroos are everywhere: in the form of statuettes, toys and other tourist souvenirs, on postcards, billboards, shop signs along the roads. There is even a special traffic sign warning drivers about an opportunity to meet this “aborigine” on the road.

So, you cannot return home from Australia without a kangaroo. This marsupial animal is associated with peacefulness and free spirit of the country.

A lion

The lion takes pride of place among the symbols of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. There are a lot of lions on the different versions of the British symbols, so that, it is difficult to calculate total number of these animals.


This huge cat is a symbol of India. More than 1/2 number of tigers in the world live in India. And 8 types of them live only in this country.

Tiger is the embodiment of courage. The Indians consider tiger as the king of the jungle. It is not a surprise that they chose it as the national symbol.


This furry animal played a huge role in the welfare of the country because the fur trade was one of the main industries in Canada of the 17-19 centuries. Thanks to the beaver hunt much of the modern part of Canada was discovered. Canadians used beaver skin as money, receipts, and bank checks.

A beaver image adorned the first Canadian postage stamp. Now it is carved on a Canadian 5 cent coin.


You probably already guessed that the panda is a symbol of China. Sweet, beautiful and amazing panda really can be found only in China. It is a pride of Chinese people.

Andean condor

This majestic bird was not only a symbol of the country, but also a part of its legends.The image of this huge bird is on the emblem of the country:

A Horse

It is strong, noble and free. This is how the people of Mongolia see their national symbol. That is why the image of a horse is on the emblem of the country:


New Zealand has a lot of symbols. Tere are so many of symbols for their total amount. The New Zealanders even came up with a special concept which is called “kiviana”.

However, among all the known symbols the main and most famous one is, of course, the New Zealand flightless bird Kiwi.

By the way, the joking nickname for the most New Zealanders is “kiwi”.


The Scandinavian countries consider a large and strong elk as their symbol. For a while, elks were mostly exterminated in these countries. Now they are under state protection, and their population has recovered.



Now you have to do the search work by yourself! The teacher prepares papers with the names of animals for the draw. You can work independently, in pairs or in teams.

This task should be performed not as a game in the classroom, but as a small home project. Students take lots with the name of the animal. Then they must find information, symbol of which country, city, or area it become and why.

They can present the results of their searches in any form: an illustrated report, a lepbook, an odd job with an explanation, a sketch, a dialogue, etc.The main thing is to find a balance between creative imagination and reliability of information!


Everyone loves to play and relax. Can animals play? Have you ever seen kittens or puppies playing?

Animal science zoologists explain as follows. Kittens, puppies, piglets, cubs, even calves and foals, sea calfs, sea lions and even ants are playing! They arrange funny fights, without any malice, solely for the sake of the game. Those animals that in adulthoode have to fight and generally use power — in particular young cats and members of the dog family are especially hard at playing games.

You can easily guess why young animals are playing, especially if you look closely at how kittens and young dogs play.

If you drag a piece of paper on the rope on the floor, the kitten will hide behind the legs of the chairs and will wait for the piece of paper to “fit” the distance of the jump. Then the kitten jumps and catches a piece of paper. It makes the movements that cats make while hunting a mouse.

Kittens also like to tinker with each other making funny fights. In these games they practice those actions that they will perform seriously when they grow up. In this way they learn to catch prey and fight with each other.

Puppies love to play with rags while dragging them around the yard shaking their head. If two puppies grabbed one rag, they pull it in different directions.

They learn to catch prey and tear it. They also love to tinker with each other making funny fights. In short, games serve as an exercise and preparation for independent living.


Now you can play and compete. Divide into teams “Kittens” and “Puppies”. The teacher lays out on the floor two tracks of “footprints”.

Teams are arranged in two columns. Their task is to run the baton along these tracks as quickly as possible, but not to miss any “footprints”. After all, the one who was inattentive returns to the “penalty loop”. The team which is the first to complete the baton is the winer!


Animals became not only the symbols of countries, but also they inspired artists. A painting genre dedicated to the image of animals,was called animalism.

For example, Paulus Potter (1625-1654) he is a Dutch painter. His works are mainly landscapes with a detailed image of domestic animals on the meadows, and hunting scenes. His picturesque paintings of animals provided him with worldwide fame. And the most famous is the big picture “Young Bull”.

David Konink (1636-1699) is a Flemish painter. He painted animals, flowers and fruits. His nickname was Rammelara (“rabbit” in Dutch). Artist often depicted this animal on his paintings. His paintings are distinguished by naturalness, strength of the colour, confidence and freedom of the brush.

Joseph Wolf (1820-1899) is a German graphic artist and painter.

He was born in a poor peasant family. From his childhood Wolf was used to observing nature and drawing it.

Heinrich von Zügel (1850-1941) is a German painter.

Heinrich von Zügel dedicated more than 40 years of his life to the subject of “Hard work” depicting on canvas oxen harness during field work. The artist created 24 versions of this story in which the viewer can observe the development of his skills:

Franz Marc (1880-1916) is a German expressionist painter.This artist seriously studied the anatomy of animals in order to fully embody his vision of nature in painting. Man seemed to Franz ugly. Instead the animal seemed to him as a higher and pure being. Mark's mature paintings often depict animals, such as horses, foxes, or deer in natural environment.

Animals are not only in works of artists. They also inspired sculptors. For example, a monument to a bull appeared in New York in December 1989. Its author is American sculptor Arturo Dee Modica:

People believe that he is able to bring success in business. It is enough to hold his horns.

Monument to a cat is located on the famous street in the center of Barcelona, Rambla. Its author is a Colombian sculptor Fernando Botero. There are several versions of the origin of this monument. One of them says that this cat is a symbol of all those cats that helped the port city to get rid of rats, and, accordingly, from many dangerous diseases including the plague.

Who does not know Hachiko? Hachiko is known all around the world! It became especially popular after the release of the film “Hachiko: The Most Loyal Friend”. The story itself began in 1934 when during the life of Hachiko a monument was installed near the Shibuya station, the place where he came to meet his owner, a professor at Tokyo University Hidesaburo Ueno.

Hachiko came to this station long after the professor's death. He was staring intently at people's faces with the hope that the owner will descend the stairs and will as usually stroke him.

Hachiko died of cancer near the station, and national mourning was declared in Japan. During World War II bronze sculpture went for military needs and had to be melted down. But in 1948 it was restored. Today this place is very popular with locals and tourists.

Another monument to a dedicated dog is located in Edinburgh. Skye Terrier Bobby was a friend of John Gray who served in the city police. After the death of the owner Bobby spent all the time on his grave which was located in the Greyfreyers cemetery. For 14 years terrier lefted this place solely to get his portion of food in the nearest restaurant.

In 1867 Bobby, as a dog without a master, could be exterminated. However, William Chambers, director of the Scottish Society against Animal Abuse, didn`t remain indifferent. He took the dog under his protection and paid all the necessary contributions and taxes. Bobby also received a collar of thick brass leaf with an engraving and the inscription “Greyfriars Bobby from Lord Mayor, 1867, allowed”.

Next to the beautiful Hyde Park in central London you can see an unusual monument dedicated to animals affected by the wars. There is a short inscription on the monument, “They had no choice”. Here you can see images of elephants, horses, camels, pigeons, bears, dogs, and even glowworms that lit up the bunkers and trenches of the British military.

The memorial was created based on the book “Animals at War” by Jilly Cooper. The sculptor of the monument David Beckhouse when he finished this work said, “I don’t know if you could call these animals heroes, but they did a very important job”.

In Florence there is a monument to a wild boar. Florentine legend is associated with this sculpture.

In the 16th century a wild boar one day ran into the city. With its roar it frightened the whole neighborhood. Fearing to meet an animal , residents tried not to leave their houses. Only one little boy calmly approached the lonely beast and stroked his face. A boar fell silent, and soon he left the city”.

People believe that a person will be happy if he/she rubs his snout. Put a coin in his mouth and make a wish. People say that everything comes true!



Try yourself in role of an artist. Here are some inspiration ideas:

You can arrange an exhibition of your works.


The End