Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Creature Feature (Intermediate Grades)

Jeanne Barber-Morris
Santa Rosa District Schools


Paired children are to complete their own “creature and habitat” designs on construction paper. Writing a four paragraph narrative is the final step. Benchmarks include the writing process. Previous studies of animals and their habitats are needed.


The student uses an organizational pattern appropriate to purpose and audience (including but not limited to topic sentences, supporting sentences, and sequence; develops new ideas in separate paragraphs; concludes with effectiveness).

The student generally follows the conventions of punctuation, capitalization, and spelling appropriate at fifth-grade or higher level [see benchmark LA.B.1.2.3 for specifics].

The student revises draft to further develop a piece of writing by adding, deleting, and rearranging ideas and details.

The student evaluates own and other's writing (for example, identifing the best features of a piece of writing, determining how own writing achieves its purpose, asking for feedback, responding to classmate's writing).

The student uses creative writing strategies appropriate to the format (for example, using appropriate voice; using descriptive language to clarify ideas and create vivid images; using elements of style, such as appropriate tone).

The student uses electronic technology (including but not limited to word-processing software, electronic encyclopedias) to create, revise, retrieve, and verify information.

The student uses strategies to create an effective central theme or focus (suspense, humor, creativity or fantasy).

The student chooses specific detail and precise word choice to work together to support the story line.

The student creates a logical organizational pattern (including an effective beginning, middle, end, and transitions) appropriate to narrative writing.

The student uses a variety of sentence structures to reinforce the story.


-3 pieces of 8”x 11” white construction paper per student pair
-3 pieces of 8”x 11” white card stock for each pair of students
-Drawing pencils
-Colored pencils
-Wide clear package tape
-Writing Check-Off List- (see attachment)
-Writing Timeline- (see attachment)
-Fifth Grade Journey Sheet- (see attachment)
-Creature Feature Rubric-
-Narrative/ Descriptive Six-Traits of Writing Rubric- (see attachment)
-Computer and writing desk op software. (Word, Ultimate Writing Creativity Center, Works, etc.)
-Basic computer printer


1. Duplicate one copy per student:
-Writing Process Timeline
-Creature Feature Rubric
-Six-Traits General Rubric
-Journey Sheet-
-Pre-Writing Creature Feature Student Chart- (one for each pair of students)

2. Duplicate copies for teacher:
-Creature Feature Rubric
-Six-Traits General Rubric

3. Prepare large chart tablet on its side.
4. Draw the habitat pre-writing chart on chart tablet.
5. Count out the amount of white construction sheets needed for each partner. (Three per pair, one for the creature and two for the separate panels for habitat.)
6. Count out three white pieces of card stock per pair. (One for the creature and one for each panel of their murals.)
7. Place glue, scissors, colored pencils, crayons, and markers out for each pair.
8. Write each set of directions for each different day on your board. (You could type the directions up separately and make an overhead to use for each lesson or step you are using that day.)
9. Select students for paired groups.
10. Talk with your school librarian about arranging to show the student’s art and writing at the end of the project.
11. Have each of your computers up and ready for the students to use. (See options)


Days One and Day Two

1. Review students' knowledge with a class discussion of animals, their adaptive abilities, and how their habitat must suit their living capabilities.

2. Have students give examples for you to write down on a large chart tablet (turned on its side with paper clips holding down the pages) divided into the following catergories: Animal, Water, Space, Food, Shelter, Air

A. Explain that they are to become artists before they are writers.
B. Divide students into pairs. If there is an uneven number, I found placing students in a trio works just as well.

Step One:

1. Fold a piece of 8- by 11- construction paper in a hamburger fold.

2. Child #1 draws the head and neck of a creature.

3. Child #2 draws, without looking, the body of the creature.

4. Each child will also name his/her creature and determine its species.

Step Two:

1. Using another piece of 8- by 11- construction paper each child will create a habitat for their creature keeping in mind the following things:
-All creatures need water, space, food, shelter and air.
-These must be shown in the drawing.
-The drawing must also be neat, completely colored in colored pencils and crayons using light lead pencil lines first.
-Markers may only be used to outline.
-Each design must use the three mediums mentioned above.

2. Have each pair discuss:
-how they want their habitat drawn,
-how to attach the materials to form a mural effect,
-what and where to place items needed for the habitat.
-what colors will be best for their creature’s home.

3. These two days students:
-Sketch the basic habitat ideas.
-Color their creature and habitat, using the different mediums.
-Attach individual sides of their habitat to make a mural.

Give each team the rest of this day and the next one to complete the design and coloring of their habitats and creature.

Day Three
Step Three:

1. The Writing - Introduce lesson by stating that today they will be using the picture of their creature and habitat drawing to write a well-written paper that will be four paragraphs long.

2. Review large tablet chart completed previously. This should help them brainstorm their own ideas.

3. Each student should complete the pre-writing sheet similar to the chart on the tablet filled in with the class discussion (see attachment).

4. Their writing will include the following descriptions:
-How did your creature get its name? ( First paragraph)
-What does your creature look like? (Second paragraph)
-How does it protect itself? (Third paragraph)
-What is its habitat? (Fourth paragraph)

3. Students should use details and descriptions so well that the reader will be able to see the creature and the habitat clearly.

4. Have them keep in mind the six-writing traits (see attachment) as they write.

5. Help each student fill in the -Writing Process Timelines -(see attachment) with due dates according to your schedule that justifies your individual classroom abilities.

6. Students review how to use the -Fifth Grade Journey Sheet.

7. Have the students follow their -Writing Process Timelines.

8. Students continue writing and following the timeline.

Day Four
Step Four

Each child needs to check his or her writing timeline, daily, to keep themselves on track. It’s sort of like a mini STATUS OF THE CLASS session each time a student checks the dates the steps are to be completed.

1. Have each pair of students visit with each other and go over the individual writing narrative.

2. Have each student use a fifth grade journey sheet (see attachment) to guide him or her through the read/listen/discuss part of editing.

3. Each child then writes his or her draft 2 on the computer, uses a spell check, and saves the document as he or she types.
(Previous knowledge and training of computer writing programs is needed in order to write draft two this way.)

4. Have each child print out the finished document and staple to the back of draft 1.

5. Continue with the -Fifth Grade Journey Sheet- (see attachment) doing letters A, B (most important) and D.

6. Letter D is very important. Students should help each other go over the six- traits, – using the rubric - and basic grammatical changes needed to make the document a finished writing piece. I have my students do letter D in red ink, copy incorrectly spelled words onto the journey sheet, and write the number of mistakes they found. (From 0 - whatever.)

7. When students have completed their second journey, they need to pull up their documents on the computer and carefully revise their pieces.

8. Print out all third drafts.

Day Five
Step Five

1. Have each pair check all of the writings and finished art.

2. Have each child paste a piece of white card stock to the back of each piece of art (the creature, each individual habitat panel).

3. Model the pasting by using the art work of an absent child or by helping a child you feel might have trouble understanding the directions.

4. Have one partner cut out the creature, leaving about ½ inch of white card stock showing. This really offsets the creature’s features.

5. Model all of these steps, plus:
-take a couple of pieces of card stock scraps.
-cut them to fit the back of the creature’s shape.
-fold the pieces into accordion pieces.
- tape these to the back of the creature carefully, at the top and bottom.

6. Give the other partners two pieces of tape - about six inches each.

7. Have them tape their two habitat pieces together, NOT overlapping the two art sides.

8. This should finish the art.

9. Have each student stand his or her animal habitat art and place on school library tables with the individually written narratives sitting in front.
Showing them off to other school classes and teachers helps students see their hard work being appreciated and shared.

The following days, students go over the self- evaluations with their partners' help. They do:
--Creature Feature Rubric- (see attachments)
--Narrative/ Descriptive Six-Traits Rubric- (see attachments)


Students staple all parts of their writing (not their art) using the Writing Process Timeline order.
Student’s final grade is based on completion of the Create a Creature Rubric (teacher and student), Writing Process Timeline, and completion of individual Fifth Grade Journey Sheet (see attachment file).

Teachers use the right hand side of the “Create a Creature Rubric” after viewing and studying students' separate parts of their project. Teachers attach the General Six Traits of Writing Rubric (see attachment file, p.5) to the top of all individual student's writing sheets, and then grade each student's final writing, using six points for each trait. This form is completed after positive comments are added.


1. Student's prior knowledge of animals and their habitat is needed.
2. Computer keyboard knowledge and active use will be important for the students to complete their drafting.
3. If you do not have enough computers to complete the project in a timely manner, ask other teachers ahead of time if you may send students to their classes to use computers there. If this isn’t appropriate, schedule time slots to use your school computer lab or school library computers. If you do not have access to computers, have students write their final drafts in cursive using black ink, appropriate margins, and clear, neat writing.

Web Links

Web supplement for Creature Feature
Beartracker's Animal Tracks Den

Web supplement for Creature Feature
Beartracker's Animal Tracks Guide

Web supplement for Creature Feature
Outdoor Action Animal Tracking Cards

Web supplement for Creature Feature
Track Cards

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