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Feathers, Fur, or Fin?

In this game, students match features to the appropriate animal, and evaluate how those features help it survive.

Animals have more than one special feature to help them survive. Animals that live in the same sort of conditions may have evolved similar features. For example, most mammals that live in the northern Pacific Ocean (whales, sea lions, seals) grow a thick layer of blubber under their skin to insulate the muscles and organs of their body from the cold. Sea Otters have developed another evolutionary path to the same end. These mammals do not have a layer of blubber; instead they have very thick fur that they blow air into to create a layer of insulation.


  • Compare and contrast the features of other animals.


Key Questions

  • Which animals were harder to figure out? Why?
  • Which animals have similar features? Why?

What To Do


  1. Print out the included animal picture cards and laminate them (or glue/print them onto cardstock).
  2. Print out two sets of the animal feature cards and laminate them (or glue/print them onto cardstock).
  3. On the board, draw a large table with 3 columns and 1 row (see table below).
    Red Team’s Answers Feature Choices Blue Team’s Answers
    Card 1   Card 1
    Card 2   Card 2
    Card 3   Card 3
    Card 4   Card 4
    Card 5   Card 5
    Card 6   Card 6
  4. In the left-hand column, write “Red Team’s Answers.”
  5. In the middle column, write “Feature Choices” and use masking tape to stick the two sets of answers vertically so that each team will be able to reach for them easily.
  6. In the right-hand column, write “Blue Team’s Answers.


  1. Divide the class into two teams and seat them on opposite sides of the room.
  2. Invite one student from each team to come to the front and stand in front of their column. These are the teams’ respective leaders.
  3. Hold up one of the animal cards so that both teams can see it. Ask the groups to identify the animal. The team that answers first gets a point.
  4. Stick the animal picture in the middle of the Feature Choices column, between the two rows of answers.
  5. At the teacher’s signal, the teams tell their leader which features that animal has. The leader will grab the feature cards from the centre board and stick them on her team’s answer board.
  6. After 45 seconds, the leaders must stop and place their hands on their heads.
  7. With the students, correct the answers. Ask the leaders to explain how the animal uses the features they’ve chosen.


  • One (1) point for the first team to correctly identify the animal.
  • Two (2) points for choosing the correct features.
  • Minus one (-1) point for every missed features.
  • Minus one (-1) point for each incorrectly chosen features.


  • Discuss other animals and their special features.
  • Extend this game to explore dinosaurs: what was the purpose of their features? Consider the environment they lived in and how they found food.