Large Animals, Small Animals


In this unit students estimate the sizes of common farm animals and draw life-size diagrams of these animals. They also use non-standard measurement units to check their estimations and design appropriate shelter for some of these animals.

Achievement Objectives
GM1-1: Order and compare objects or events by length, area, volume and capacity, weight (mass), turn (angle), temperature, and time by direct comparison and/or counting whole numbers of units.
Specific Learning Outcomes
  • Measure life-size diagrams of farm animals using non-standard units.
  • Compare the relative sizes of sheep and their shelter plants using terms such as taller and shorter.
  • Identify parts of common farm animals: legs, tail, head, snout, claws, beak.
  • Group plants and animals from a selection of common farm animals and a variety of shrubs and trees.
Description of Mathematics

In this unit students are estimating and measuring with non-standard units to find length and breadth. They investigate and make comparisons using appropriate language: as taller, shorter, and wider. From a given set of non-standard measurements they draw life size diagrams.

Cross-curricular links (Science)

In this unit, students work with a variety of common farm animals and native plants. This context enables students to begin developing an awareness of New Zealand ’s plants and animals and an appreciation of the special features of the New Zealand environment.

Classification is an important skill in the life-sciences and students begin the development of this, alongside a growing awareness of the diversity of animal life. An awareness of this diversity is the beginnings of an understanding of the relationship between structure and function in living organisms.

Associated Achievement Objective

Living World, Evolution, level 1, AO1: recognise that there are lots of different living things in the world and that they can be grouped in different ways.

Required Resource Materials
  • Plastic models of common farm animals
  • Photos or diagrams of common farm animals (for example, chickens, sheep, pigs, cows and horses) 
  • Large sheets of paper
  • Life size diagrams of common farm animals. Measurements vary greatly between species and teachers should use their own judgement to enlarge smaller diagrams as appropriate
  • Photos or diagrams of a variety of shrubs and trees
  • Multilink cubes
  • Chalk

Session 1

  1. Present students with photos or pictures of a variety of common farm animals, for example chickens, sheep, pigs, goats, horses, cows and plastic models of these animals.  Discuss:
    What do we know about these animals?
    What parts of these animals can you name?
  2. Encourage students to name parts of animals, for example legs, tail, head, snout, claws, beak and record terms as the discussion progresses.
  3. Discuss the size of these animals, stating that the models are not life-size. Encourage students to estimate the size of animals.
    If we had a sheep in the classroom how tall would it be? Taller than the blackboard?
    If we had a chicken in the classroom would it be shorter than the desk?
  4. Divide the students into groups and assign each group one of the smaller farm animals, for example chicken or sheep.
  5. Have each group draw a life-size picture of the animal (estimating size) and label the parts of the animal. To enable the estimation to be achieved more easily, pin the paper to the walls for students to draw their diagrams on an upright surface.

Session 2

  1. Explain to the students that they are going to think more about the size of farm animals today.
  2. Re-visit the animals drawn yesterday and ask the students how they could measure them.
    If we wanted to describe to a farmer how big we thought these animals were, how could we do it?
    What could we use to measure these animals?
  3. Encourage the use of non-standard measurement and demonstrate this. For example, Josh thinks a sheep is 7 hand-spans high and 12 hand-spans long.
  4. Have each group measure their estimated life-size picture and record their results with sentences such as “We think a chicken is 3 hand-spans long”
  5. Present the students with accurate life sizes pictures of the animals and have them compare their estimated diagrams with the accurate representations.
    How was the animal different to what you had predicted?
    How was it the same?
    Was the animal longer or shorter than you estimated?
  6. Have the students measure the accurate diagrams in non-standard measurements and make statements about the relative sizes. For example:
    We thought the chicken was 5 hand-spans high bit it was shorter than we thought. It was only 4 hand-spans high.

Session 3

  1. Explain to the students that some animals on the farm need shelter. Today they are going to design a shelter for a chicken to lay their eggs in.
  2. Brainstorm the requirements for the shelter.
    How big will the shelter need to be?
    What will it need to fit in?
  3. Revisit the size of a chicken from yesterday’s diagram. Establish that the box needs to be big enough to hold the chicken, a box for her to ley her eggs in, 2 small bowls for food and water and a perch for her to sleep on.
  4. Provide each pair of students with a large sheet of paper to draw a life-size floor plan for a chicken’s box. Have them use multilink cubes to plan the height of the box and the location of a door.
  5. Share plans and then have students measure and record the sizes of their boxes using non-standard measurement units. For example, “The chicken box I have designed is 9 hand-spans long, 5 hand-spans wide and 10 hand-spans high. The door is 3 hand-spans wide and 4 hand-spans high”

Session 4

  1. Explain to the students that some animals don’t have shelter like the chicken’s box, they need to find shelter outside.
    Where could sheep shelter on a farm?What things could sheep stand behind to stop the wind blowing on them?
  2. Establish that sheep could shelter behind trees and hedges. Show the students photos or pictures of a variety of shrubs and trees, as well as a variety of farm animals.
  3. Divide the students into groups and provide them with copies of the pictures. Have them classify the items as plants or animals by pasting them onto a chart.
                Plants                        Animals           









  4. Outline to the students that they are now going to help the farmer make some hedges to use in his sheep paddocks for the sheep to shelter behind. Discuss how tall the hedges will need to be.
    How big will the plants need to be to keep the wind off the sheep?How tall will the plants need to be? How tall is the sheep?
  5. Divide the students into pairs and have them draw a life-size diagram of the required hedge height.
  6. Pin the paper to the walls to enable them to visualise this more easily. Once they have drawn the plant they can then compare it to the life-size diagram of the sheep to see whether they have chosen to make their hedge tall enough.
  7. Encourage the use of terms such as taller and shorter.

Session 5

  1. Explain to the students that sometimes when sheep are going to have lambs, or when they are hurt, farmers need to put them in small pens. These pens need to be big enough to hold the sheep comfortably, allowing only a small amount of space for the animals to move.
  2. Outline to the students that they are going to design a pen big enough to hold 2 sheep. Discuss
    How can we think about how big the pen will need to be? How could we check?
  3. Pair the students, then take them outside to draw life-sized pens on the playground with chalk. Have them check whether the size of their pen is realistic, by each holding a life-size cut-out of a sheep. They can then adapt their design as necessary.
  4. Students then measure their pens using non-standard measurements and draw diagrams to record its shape and size. 
  5. Compare the relative sizes of the pens in a class discussion
    How large did the pen need to be?
    How do we know?
    What is the smallest pen possible to hold two sheep?

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