How Do They Move?

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life sciences, physical education




life's diversity, adaptations


one class period


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Before their visit, students will learn that... animals move in different ways depending on how they've adapted to where they live.

Background Information

Animals move in different ways. bats [graphic] fly, chameleons [graphic] crawl, grasshoppers [graphic] hop and rhinos [graphic] run . The way an animal moves is related to the environment it lives in-- its habitat. Imagine a rhino flying or a grasshopper swimming. Neither would get very far. In fact, a grasshopper falling in a pond would make easy pickings for a hungry fish. How an an imal moves is one way it has adapted to its habitat.

This role play allows your students to "feel" what it's like to be an animal on the move, and to appreciate each animal's adaptations for moving.



  • Large box or paper bag.
  • Magazine cutouts of each animal. Choose a variety of animals that move in different ways: walking (humans or rhino), flying (house fly or bat), swimming (platypus), hopping (grasshopper) and jet propulsion (giant squid).


How do you move? What parts of your body do you use to walk? What parts do you use to wave hello or good-bye?

What are the different ways that you can move?



  1. Place magazine pictures in a box or large paper bag.
  2. Have students form a circle with the box or bag in the center.
  3. Choose a student to reach into the box or bag and pull out one picture.
  4. Ask the student to look closely at the animal and its body parts and identify the way the animal moves.
  5. Have the student move as the animal would move.
  6. Have the rest of the class repeat the movements.
  7. Repeat until everyone has had a chance to choose an animal and lead the class.


Do all animals move the same way?
How many different ways of moving can you name?
Which movement did you like? Why?
Which movements didnšt you like? Why?

Adapted from

Mystic Marine Life Aquarium Education Dept. Pre-, During and Post Activity Kits. Mystic, CT, Sea Research Foundation, 1992.

Additional Sources

Cooke, John. The Restless Kingdom: An exploration of animal movement. New York: Facts On File, 1991.