Most students can tell the difference between a snake and a fish or a bat and a monkey just by looking at them, but sometimes telling the difference between two animals requires more than a quick glance. Animals have many different features. Some have fur. Some have scales. Some have webbed feet. Some have claws. As students begin to learn about animals, it’s helpful for them to classify animals by those features.
In the story Are You Like Me?, Scott the Snake sets out to find an animal who is like him. He finds a fish, an alligator, a monkey, and even a bear, but none of the animals are like him. Looking at the different animals in this book is a great way to help students learn how to classify animals by their features.
Start by introducing the story to students. Explain to them that you are going to be reading a book about a snake who is looking for a friend that is just like him. Ask students to pay attention to what the different animals in the story look like as you read. You can guide students through this process by talking to them about how Scott the Snake looks on the cover. For example, you may point out that he is green, that he doesn’t have legs, or that he has a long tongue.
Once you’ve introduced the story, read through it with the students. You may want to stop occasionally to ask students how the animals are different than Scott.
When the story is over, talk with students about the different characters. You may want to write the names of the characters on a piece of chart paper or on a whiteboard. Next to each character’s name, write the different features of the character that students point out to you. For example, next to Betty the Bat, you may have: fur, wings, legs, black.
After you have created your list of descriptions for each character, talk about how the animals were the same. For example, the bear and monkey both had hair or the fish and snake both had scales. Then present students with pictures of 10-15 different animals (make sure you have at least one per student). You can cut out the pictures from a magazine or print them out online. If you laminate the pictures, you can use them for other animal activities as well.
On the board or a piece of paper write a few different features that describe the animals in the collection. Instead of coming up with the features on your own, you may ask students to list the features. You may also focus on one type of feature. For example, you may classify all of the animals by color/pattern or all of the animals by foot type. Hand each student an animal and ask him/her to determine what category to place that animal under. For example, if the student has a picture of a zebra or a tiger, they may place that animal under the category “Stripes”.
Once students have placed all of their animals in the categories, point out which animals are the same and which animals are different.