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Part of the Dinosaurs: Activities and Lesson Plans Curriculum Collection.
Through research, students will learn about the different types of feathers and their functions. The information they gather will help support the idea that feathers evolved before birds and serve functions other than flight.
Approximately two periods (40 minutes each) in addition to outside research
1. Call on volunteers to name the body coverings of different animals and to describe the function of those body coverings (i.e. fur, scales, skin). Discuss with students the functions of feathers. Use the following questions to guide the discussion and write students’ responses on the board:
2. Tell students they are going to do research to learn more about the functions of feathers. Distribute the Functions of Feathers handout and read through it with students. If available, distribute feathers for students to examine.
3. Tell students they will work in small groups to research the functions of feathers in the particular bird they are assigned. Their research will include:
4. Divide the class into groups and assign one of the following birds to each group: penguin, ostrich, peacock, duck, snowy owl, and robin. If possible, provide time for students to do computer and library research during class.
5. When groups have completed their research, have them make their presentations to the class. After the presentations, discuss with students what they have learned about feathers. Ask them to hypothesize what functions feathers may have served in the early feathered dinosaurs.