Not all animals take care of their young in the same way. Today, we’ve got an exercise to help you and your students learn more about how smooth greensnakes care for their young. Let’s get started!
Prepare to Explore
- Show the “I See/I Think” chart. Tell students we will use this chart to help us keep track of our science detective observations and help us learn about an animal and how it helps its young survive.
- Show students an image of a prairie. Ask students what they notice about the prairie. Tell students that many reptiles live in the prairie, but today we will specifically focus on the smooth greensnake and how they help their young survive.
- Tell students that they will be using their eyes to look for clues and make observations in photographs, which will be recorded on the chart. Tell students that they will then use those observations to come up with ideas (make inferences) and solve the mystery of how the smooth greensnake protects their young.
- Introduce the smooth greensnake image to students. Students will observe the photo and share their observations, which are recorded on the “I See” chart.
- Ask students (based on their observations) why they think the prairie is a good environment for the smooth greensnake. Guide student observations around physical structures of the snake that would help it survive in a prairie (coloring for camouflage). Record student inferences on the “I Think” portion of the chart.
- Repeat the observation/inference process and discussion with the smooth greensnake and nest photos. After all groups have shared their observations, ask students (based on their observations) how they think the smooth greensnake takes care of its young. Ask students to support their inferences with evidence from the photos. During the discussion, guide students to the idea that smooth greensnakes make nests in areas with lots of grass, dirt, and twigs to provide protection for their eggs.
- Tell students that they have now fully solved the mystery of how the smooth greensnake helps their young survive in the prairie! They have been wonderful science detectives and used their scientific skills of observing closely!
Reflect & Share
- Ask students: Did you see an adult snake in the pictures of the nests? Why do you think that is? Explain to students that smooth greensnakes leave after they lay their eggs because they hatch out of their eggs being able to find their own food.
- Ask if students know of any other animals that care for their young in a similar way (monarch lays egg on underside of leaf, box turtle lays egg in a nest then leaves, etc.).
- Repeat this same process with another animal you are interested in!
- Want to learn more about how the Nature Museum is helping smooth greensnakes? Read this Click Magazine excerpt featuring our Herpetologist Dr. Allison.
Click through to page 2 to access this activity writeup in Spanish.