Discover! Simulations

Looking at Plants and Animals

1. Get Set to Explore


  • leaves: Plant parts that help make food for a plant; if there is only one, it is called a leaf.
  • magnifying glass: A tool that can make things look bigger. Another name for a magnifying glass is hand lens.
  • meadow: A grassy piece of land.
  • petal: The leaf of a flower; petals often have bright colors.
  • seed: Part of a plant that has a new plant inside it.
  • wing: Body part that can help an animal fly.

Building Background

  • Take the class outside or have them look out a large window in the classroom. Ask children to name different plants and animals that they see. Explain that when they work on the simulation, they will look for plants and animals in a meadow scene. Go over the definition of meadow.
  • Referring to some of the different animals children named, talk about animal body parts. Go over the definition of wing, focusing on the function. Guide children to understand that birds and insects both have wings. Show children a feather. Explain that although birds and many insects have wings, only birds have feathers.
  • Talk about plant parts, going over the definitions of the vocabulary words above.
  • Show children a magnifying glass. Name this tool and show the class how it makes things look larger. Let children use a magnifying glass to look at their hands. Explain that they will use a similar computer tool to make plants and animals look larger.
  • Ask children the Discover! question, and encourage them to propose answers.

2. Guide the Exploration

  • Show children how to launch the Discover! Simulation. Point out the magnifying glass. Then, demonstrate how to use the cursor to move the magnifying glass over different plants and animals in the meadow scene.
  • You may wish to have children pair up to work on the computer. Children should spend some time exploring the meadow scene using the magnifying glass.
  • Challenge children to find eight different plants and animals that the Discover! Simulation highlights with enlarged pictures and verbal descriptions.

3. Review/Assess

  • Review Step 3's Wrap-Up text with the class. Have children name the different plants and animals they observed: buttercup, garter snake, goldfinch, ladybug, milkweed, monarch butterfly, rabbit, red-tailed hawk.
  • Encourage children to share what they learned about the different animals and how their body parts help them. You may wish to focus on how different body parts help animals move. Give children opportunities to share what they learned about different plants and why specific plant parts are important to the plant.
  • Ask children the Extension questions. After they have had a chance to reexamine the meadow scene, share these answers:
    • These animals have some black or gray on their bodies: garter snake, goldfinch, ladybug, monarch butterfly. These animals have some brown on their bodies: garter snake, rabbit, red-tailed hawk. These plants and animals have yellow parts: buttercup, goldfinch. The following plants have green parts: milkweed, grass, buttercup.
    • The following animals and plants have colors not shared by other plants and animals in the meadow scene: the ladybug has red on its wings; the butterfly has orange on its wings.
    • The following animals have wings: goldfinch, ladybug, monarch butterfly, red-tailed hawk. The following animals have feet: goldfinch, rabbit, red-tailed hawk. The following animals have feathers: goldfinch, hawk.

If time permits, present children with the following questions:

  • Inquiry Skill: Infer Ladybugs and monarch butterflies both have wings. How do these animals use their wings to move? Answer: Both use their wings to fly.
  • Critical Thinking: Classify Think about how the different animals in the meadow move. Put the animals in groups based on how they move. Answer: The snake slithers; the rabbit hops; the goldfinch, ladybug, butterfly, and red-tailed hawk fly.

4. Reaching All Learners

On Level: Visual Learners

Print a black-and-white copy of the meadow scene from the simulation. If possible, enlarge it using your printer or a photocopy machine. Have children identify different plants and animals in the picture and color the scene. Encourage them to use the correct colors for each plant and animal. Have them check their coloring against the simulation.