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Skulls: A Study in Structure and Function (K-8)



  • curriculum binder
  • "Skulls of North American Mammals" display board
  • bobcat skull
  • jackrabbit skull
  • porcupine skull
  • raccoon skull
  • human skull
  • coyote skull
  • black bear skull
  • marked ropes
  • mirrors
  • "herbivore goggles"
  • Books: "Handbook to the Orders and Families of Living Mammals" by Timothy E Lawlor; "Skulls and Bones" by Glenn Searfoss; "The Glow-in-the-Dark Book of Animal Skeletons" by Regina Kahney and Christopher Santoro; "The Skull Alphabet Book" by Jerry Pallotta and Ralph Masiello; "Eyewitness: Skeleton" by Steve Parker; "Skulls" by David Liitschwager & The California Academy of Sciences


Create a Map of Your Teeth: Learn about different types of teeth as you explore your own mouth.

Herbivores, Omnivores, and Carnivores: Examine some amazing animal skulls and compare and contrast the teeth of different animals.

Chew, Bite, and Chomp: Carry out some delicious experiments to figure out what your incisors, canines, and molars are for.

What Can Teeth Do?: Expand your vocabulary in this creative brainstorming activity.

Spot Danger, Track Prey: Learn how an animal's eye placement relates to its lifestyle as predator or prey.

Plot Your Vision: How does your field of vision measure up? Map out the field for each of your eyes and measure the area of overlap. Then try on some "herbivore goggles" and discover what it's like to see like an herbivore!

Skull Detective: Apply your observation and investigation skills as you examine the skulls of several California mammals. Are they herbivores, omnivores, or carnivores? Predator or prey? Put your new knowledge together to figure it all out.


California Content Standards


Investigation and Experimentation

  • 4e. Communicate observations orally and through drawings.

Grade One

Life Sciences

  • 2c. Students know animals eat plants or other animals for food and may also use plants or even other animals for shelter and nesting.
  • 2d. Students know how to infer what animals eat from the shapes of their teeth (e.g., sharp teeth: eats meat; flat teeth: eats plants).

Investigation and Experimentation

  • 4b. Record observations and data with pictures, numbers, or written statements.

Grade Five

Investigation and Experimentation

  • 6g. Record data by using appropriate graphic representations (including charts, graphs, and labeled diagrams) and make inferences based on those data.

Grade Six

Investigation and Experimentation

  • 7e. Recognize whether evidence is consistent with a proposed explanation.