Adaptable Animals

Kindergarten – 5th Grade | Year-round

Program Outline

See below for all adaptable animal programs.

2 Hours

Students take a look at how structure and function are related in one of our most popular and versatile programs. Handling pelts and skulls, exploring Tryon’s varied habitats, and creating a brand new creature will help your class discover how an animal’s external structure helps it survive in its specific environment.

4 Hours


After finishing up their morning (see above) students work through two activity rotations during a fun afternoon in the park. One rotation gives students a chance to use natural materials to create a brand new creature that can survive here at Tryon Creek. Students are encouraged to think about how the structures of their creature help them perform specific functions like finding food, protecting themselves, or creating/finding shelter. The second rotation uses games to look at how favorable adaptations help certain species find success in an ecosystem.

Adaptable Animals Programs

All adaptable animal programs highlight the relationship between structure and function in all kinds of living things, but each of the programs below focuses on a particular group of animals.

Mammals -

How are beavers able to protect themselves, find food throughout the year, and build their homes?  Learn how this important Northwest species is able to survive by evaluating the effectiveness of different tools in completing tasks that beavers do in the wild, then looking at a real beaver pelt and skull to find similar structures on their bodies before heading out on the trail to look for signs of how other animals use their bodies to live in our forest.

Insects -

Students will look at how different kinds of coloration help animals protect themselves in a collaborative classroom activity that highlights critical thinking skills and building consensus. Next, groups hit the trails to look for insects in the wild using the same collection methods scientists do!

Spiders -
Fall Only

In this program, groups will explore the fascinating and diverse world of spiders by looking at how the shapes of spiders help them do their jobs in a collaborative classroom activity that highlights critical thinking skills and building consensus. On the hike, students look for spider webs and explore how these tiny engineers have perfected the art of capturing prey.

Amphibians - Spring Only

What differences in body types do you need to survive in aquatic vs. terrestrial environments?  In this program, students explore this idea by comparing tadpoles and adult frogs in terms of how they find food in their respective habitats. On the trail, students look for evidence of amphibians and think about what their unique features can tell us about the forest system as a whole.