From chameleons that can change color to crocodiles that can hold their breath for hours, reptiles are a captivating group of animals that can be found all over the world. Learning about reptiles can help children to broaden their scientific knowledge and vocabulary, as well as deepen their appreciation for the natural world.
In this blog post, we’ve put together a collection of fun and engaging resources for a unit study on reptiles. Whether you’re looking for printables, books, classroom materials, or hands-on activities, there’s a little something for everyone here. Check out the ideas below!
Reptiles are a diverse group of animals, including turtles, snakes, lizards, and crocodiles and more. They are cold-blooded, have scaly skin, and lay eggs. Reptiles live in many different habitats around the world and on every continent except Antarctica.
Here are some general characteristics of reptiles:
- Reptiles are cold-blooded, which means that they rely on the environment to regulate their body temperature. They will bask in the sun to warm up, and move to cooler areas to cool down.
- All reptiles have scaly skin that protects their bodies and helps them retain moisture. The scales also play a role in thermoregulation and can help some reptiles blend in with their environment.
- Reptiles lay eggs, which can be hard-shelled or soft-shelled, depending on the species.
- While some reptiles are excellent swimmers, all reptiles breathe air using lungs.
- Many reptiles are carnivorous and eat insects, rodents, and other small animals. Others, like many turtles, are omnivores and eat both plants and animals. A few reptiles, like iguanas, are herbivores and eat only plants.
- Reptiles have a variety of adaptations that help them survive in their environments. For example, snakes can sense heat with special pits on their faces, and some lizards can change color to blend in with their surroundings.
As you explore reptiles with your students, encourage them to ask questions and investigate the unique features of these amazing animals!
Reptiles: Fun facts for kids
- Some species of chameleon can change color in just a few seconds to blend in with their surroundings.
- Crocodiles can hold their breath underwater for up to two hours.
- Many turtles and tortoises can live to be over 100 years old.
- Some lizards, like the horned lizard, can squirt blood out of their eyes to scare off predators.
- The green anaconda is the largest snake in the world and can grow up to 30 feet long.
- Sea turtles can migrate thousands of miles annually, returning to the beach where they were born to lay their eggs.
- Some geckos have the ability to walk on ceilings and even glass thanks to special pads on their feet.
- Snakes have flexible jaws that allow them to swallow prey whole, even prey that’s larger than their own head.
- Alligator eggs can change gender depending on the temperature at which they are incubated.
- Komodo dragons have venomous saliva that helps them to kill their prey more quickly.
Books and Materials for Learning About Reptiles
- Reptiles: A Question and Answer Book by Isabel Martin – this book pairs lively and engaging photographs with question-and-answer style information about reptiles.
- About Reptiles by Cathryn Sill – this book has really lovely full-page illustrations with short, accessible reptile facts on each page.
- Lizard Life Cycle Model from Minisko – while this rotating wooden model would be lovely to display as-is, you could also pair it with some blank pages and colored pencils to create a “reptile life cycle booklet-making” activity.
- Reptile Stencils from Stencils and Stuff – this seller has options for turtle, lizard, snake, iguana, and alligator stencils.
- Reptile Specimen Center from Lakeshore Learning – If you can’t source reptile specimens directly from nature, then this realistic set might make a great addition to your science shelf!
Printables & Curriculum Resources for Learning About Reptiles
- Snakes 3-Part Cards Be sure to grab this great printable from the free Trillium Resource Library
- Reptiles Preschool Pack This pack has ten reptile-themed activities for your early learning shelves. I especially love the beautiful photographs in the sorting activity and the “Who am I?” reptile guessing game.
- Reptiles and Amphibians Unit Study from Every Star is Different – in addition to the printables here, this post includes some great fine motor activities to supplement a reptile unit.
- Reptiles Bingo Activity Cards from I Believe in Montessori – this printable features 16 different reptiles and could be set up as a game for multiple students or an independent activity.
- Reptiles Study Activity from I Believe in Montessori – this resource includes a circular chart about reptiles and a blank template that students could use to create their own diagram.
Crafts & Hands-On Activities for Learning About Reptiles
- Reptile STEM Activities from Growing with Science – check out the “lizard in the sun” experiment using a simple desk lamp and black construction paper cutouts.
- Grip Like a Gecko Experiment from PBS Kids – Gecko toes are a truly fascinating reptile adaptation! Did you know they stick to surfaces using electrostatic force? This experiment is a great way to model chart making skills with older primary students in a small group lesson.
- Salt Dough Snake Activity – a fun blend of fine motor, art, and observation skills! (you could also paint wooden snakes like these)
- Horned Lizard Torn Paper Art from Texas Parks and Wildlife (if the preview photo isn’t working, click here and scroll down to see an example of this project) – this could be set up as an individual activity on your art/fine motor shelf.
- Two turtle craft ideas! Try making Potato Masher Turtles or a Paper Plate + Tissue Paper Turtle.
PS – Check out my Reptiles Unit Pinterest board for lots more ideas!
Holly Earnest is a content writer on the Trillium team. After eight years in the classroom and another 2.5 as a center director, Holly transitioned from full-time campus life to focus on supporting Montessori educators and caring for family. She is AMS-credentialed at the primary level, and enjoys coaching Montessori guides, creating Montessori training materials, and presenting at Montessori conferences.