What is a Mammal?


There are over 4,000 species of mammals on planet Earth.  Some live on land, others live in water. In this unit young students explore the main characteristics of all mammals, but they will focus on the particular examples of the California black bear and the California sea otter. The students will learn how these two mammals represent all mammals as they adapt to their particular environment and thrive. They will also compare them to reptiles, insects, and birds learning some of the ways mammals are different from these other animals.

Click HERE to schedule this program

Grade Level

Kindergarten-2nd Grade (adaptable for other grade levels)

Primary Common Core State Standards

Kindergarten: RI.K.1, SL.K.1, SL.K.2, SL.K.3, SL.K.5
1st Grade: RI.1.1, RI.1.2, SL.1.1, SL.1.2, SL.1.3, SL.1.5
2nd Grade: RI.2.1, SL.2.1, SL.2.2, SL.2.3, SL.2.5

Primary Next Generation Science Standards

Kindergarten: K-LS1, K-ESS3-1
1st Grade: 1-LS1-1, 1-LS1-2
2nd Grade: 2-LS4-1, 2-PS1-1

Time Required

Lessons 1-3: 15-20 minutes

Videoconferencing Lesson: 45-60 minutes


Through classroom lessons and participating in the culminating program through a videoconference, students will be able to

 Describe and give examples of four of the main characteristics of all mammals.
 Compare and contrast California Black Bears to other mammals.
 Indicate the adaptations sea otters have beyond the main characteristics of mammals that allow them to live in a special environment.
 Distinguish differences between mammals and insects, reptiles, and birds.

Academic Contributors

Ruth Landmann
Certified California Teacher
Pajaro Valley Unified School District

Allison Martin
California Credentialed Teacher
Graduate Student, CSUS