Lesson Plan

Animal Populations Up and Down

Two deer along the Natchez Trace Parkway.

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Grade Level:
Fourth Grade-Eighth Grade
Agriculture, Biology: Animals, Ecology, Environment, Recreation Ecology, Wildlife Biology, Wildlife Management
1 class period
Group Size:
Up to 36
National/State Standards:
Environmental Science 2. Develop an understanding of the relationship of ecological factors that effect an ecosystem. e. Explain the causes and effects of changes in population dynamics to carrying capacity and limiting factors.
environment, ecology, animal population, animal, ecosystem, population dynamics


Animal populations have natural cycles. Those cycles are frequently influenced by human pressures. Students will see animal populations grow and decline, and learn more about predator prey adaptations that classify animals. This lesson introduces the basic population dynamic concepts with simplified fluctuations.


For the complete lesson plan, please email natr_education@nps.gov or call 1-800-305-7417. Please indicate whether or not you need an accessible lesson plan.

Enduring Understanding: Stability of animal populations depends on both biotic and abiotic factors.

Essential Question: What happens to animal populations when you add to or take away from biotic and abiotic factors?


The lesson plan includes: Animal Attitude Survey, Set up for beans, and Qualitative VS Quantitative worksheet.

1.) Set up for beans

2.) Teacher will need:

a. 1 lb bag of dry brown beans (or other colored beans)

b. 1 lb bag of white beans

c. plastic locking sandwich or snack bags, or cups to store beans

d. Animal Skins and Skulls (can be checked out as travel trunk from Natchez Trace Parkway 662-680-4027)

i. Skulls:

Carnivore: cougar skull, fox skull

Omnivore: bear skull, raccoon skull

Herbivore: deer skull, beaver skull

ii. Skins: Bear, red fox, gray fox, skunk, raccoon, deer, beaver, cougar, bob cat



The teacher will observe student participation and scan their work for accuracy in following directions. The teacher will note participation in discussion.

Park Connections

 The Natchez Trace Parkway is a narrow park averaging 800 feet in width. There are a lot of human influences on the animals that live along the Trace. 


An animal attitude survey activity is available for students to share data and make graphs.

A qualitative vs quantitative activity can be used for an extension.  

Have students research animals that have been extirpated from an area. 

Have students research threatened and endangered species. 

Students can make reports, posters, power points, and/or share their information orally. 


Additional Resources








Biotic, abiotic, animal population, limiting factor

Last updated: January 5, 2018