Read about and find examples of different kinds of mammals using a good resource of your choosing. Our favorite resource is Eyewitness Books: Mammal.
Characteristics of mammals:
1) Body hair
2) Nurse their young
3) Warm blooded (define this term and compare to cold blooded)
4) Four chambered heart (you might watch this short video about the heart)
5) Relatively complex brains (discuss here what it means to have a complex brain)
Class Mammalia is divided into 15 major orders:
1) Monotremata (e.g. platypus)
2) Marsupial (e.g. kangaroos)
3) Chiroptera (e.g. bats)
4) Carnivora (e.g. dogs, lions, bears)
5) Sirenia (e.g. sea cows)
6) Cetacea (e.g. whales, dolphins)
7) Proboscidea (e.g. elephants)
8) Perissodactyla (e.g. horses, zebra, rhinos)
9) Artiodactyla (e.g. sheep, deer, pigs, cattle)
10) Rodentia (e.g. squirrels, rats, porcupine)
11) Lagomorpha (e.g. rabbits, pika)
12) Edentate (e.g. anteaters, armadillos, tree sloth)
13) Tubulidentata (e.g. African aardvark)
14) Insectivora (e.g. shrew, moles, hedgehogs)
15 Primates (e.g. monkeys, lemurs, apes, humans)
While discussing what makes a mammal a mammal be sure to compare and contrast to other animals studied thus far. Use a dictionary to look up the root words for each of the 15 major orders and discover why certain animals might belong to that particular order.
Younger students-- Draw a picture of a particular species of mammal and use the biodiversity website to explore the animal's taxonomy.
Older students--Fill out an animal report form (this one from CurrClick is free and will work for this activity), making sure to include the characteristics that make this animal a mammal. Use the bio-diversity website to explore the animal's taxonomy.
Objectives: Student will be able to identify mammals and give major characteristics. Student will be able to define the term "warm blooded". Student will be able to explain the implications of having a complex brain.