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Free Lizard Animal Study and Lapbook

Lizard Animal Study and Lapbook

Unit by Dori Oakes


Library List

As you read through books about lizards, record them in Lizard Book Log

Chameleons are Cool by Martin Jenkins
by Deborah Dennard,  Illustrated by Jennifer Owings Dewey
Living Planet: Learn About Nature (free at )
Gila Monsters Meet You at the Airport by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat, Byron Barton

Ananse and the Lizard: A West African Tale by Pat Cummings

Stanley, the Tale of the Lizard by Peter Meteyard, Peter Firmin
Twelve Snails to One Lizard: A Tale of Mischief and Measurement by Susan Hightower

Iguanas (Complete Pet Owner's Manual)
101 Facts about Iguanas
Ferrets in the Bedroom Lizards in the Fridge by Bill Wallace
Lizards in the Terrarium : buying, feeding, care, sicknesses, with a special chapter on setting up rain-forest, desert, and water terrariums by Jes, Harald.
Holes by Louis Sachar

Lapbook Components

Cover Page
Reptile 3/4 Book
Lizard Book Log
Families of Lizards Tab Book
Methods of Defense & Out with the Old
Bible Pocket
Classification Flap Book
Leapin' Lizards!  (for fun facts)
Lizard Senses Side by Side
Vocabulary Lizards (younger)
Reptile Relatives Accordion
Lizard Stationary Primary Lines
Vocabulary Blank Lizards  (blank)
Komodo Dragon Triangle
Lizard Stationary Regular Lines
Vocabulary Pocket
Where in the World do Lizards Live?
Long Live Lizards! & Pocket for Story

Minit Books requiring additional research
Lizards vs. Salamanders Venn Diagram
Lizards in the House

Cool Chameleons Hotdog Book


You may come across many new words while studying lizards. Discuss the following words and their definitions. 

Vocabulary Lizards (younger ~ select words and definitions)
Vocabulary Blank Lizards (older student can write words and definitions as desired)
Vocabulary Pocket

Regeneration - growth anew of lost tissue or destroyed parts or organs
Oviparous - egg laying
Herpetologist - A zoologist who studies reptiles and amphibians
Scale - A flattened rigid plate forming part of the body covering of many animals
Cold-blooded-  animals who have a body temperature not regulated by the body and close to that of the environment
Arboreal- living in or often found in trees 
Aquatic - Operating or living or growing in water
Exothermic - having body temperature that varies with the environment
Endothermic - having body temperature that remains constant
Metamorphosis - The marked and rapid transformation of a larva into an adult that occurs in some animals
Incomplete metamorphosis - The development of a nymph into the imago which in many respects resembles the former; characteristic of more primitive insect orders, such as Heteroptera 
(true bugs),
Orthoptera  (locusts, grasshoppers), and Blatterria (roaches). 
Vernal - occurring in spring
Chromatophores - Plastid containing pigments other than chlorophyll usually yellow or orange carotenoids
Herpetofauna - *list of the amphibians and reptiles in any given area.*
Costal Groves - shoreline swamps containing many trees.


What is a Lizard?
Lizards are living creatures. We know this because they pass the 7 things test -  they eat, breathe, move, grow, reproduce, respond to stimuli, and excrete waste. They are creatures from the Animal Kingdom and the phylum of Chordata, which means they are vertebrates having a backbone. A lizard is a reptile; it is a relative of snakes, alligators, crocodiles, tortoises, and turtles. Lizards and all other reptiles are cold-blooded meaning that they can’t regulate their body temperature internally and completely dependent on external forces for heat. Although they have an average body temperature that is about 42 degrees Fahrenheit they may be much colder in the winter and warmer in the summer lying on a hot rock in the sun.   Lizards have a smooth, shiny appearance so they sometimes can appear slimy or slippery, but their hairless skin is actually very dry due to a lack of pores to excrete water and oils. They have smooth scales that help them to keep moist even in a hot biome like deserts. Other characteristics of reptiles include breathing with lungs, and they are oviparous (most lay eggs, but not all do).
Lapbook Components:
Reptile 3/4 Book
Reptile Relatives Accordion

Methods of Defense

Animals are equipped with different methods to defend and protect themselves. Lizards are no exception, and use these various methods:


Sharp spines that hurt a predator's mouth
Slippery scales make them hard to grip
Use their tales to beat off attackers
Skinks and geckos can lose their tails and escape with their lives

Lizard Defenses Component

Classification Information (for lizards in general)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia (Sauropsidia)
Order: Squamata
Classification Flap Book

Families of Lizards

There are about 40 Families of Lizards!  We will learn about six groups
including iguanas (family Iguanaidae), chameleons (family Chamaeleonidae), geckos (family Gekkonidae), Gila Monsters (family Helodermatidae), monitors (families Lanthanotidae and Varanidae), and skinks (family Scincidae).

Families of Lizards Six Tab Book - use each page to record information about each family of lizards

Iguanas –

The Green Iguana is a species of lizard from the family Iguanidae that in the wild lives in the branches of trees of central and South America. Although you will find colonies of them in the 
United States in Florida, Hawaii and Texas these are animals who have either escaped from owners or are the descendants of those who have escaped their owners. They grow to a length 
between 4 feet and 6 feet and can weigh up to 20 pounds. They possess rows of spikes down their backs and tails to help defend from predators. They can use their tail like a whip and d
eliver a painful blow in self-defense! This tail when grabbed can break off allowing the Iguana to escape harm and regenerate afterward. Most Iguanas are herbivores meaning that they eat 
vegetation rather than meat although a few species eat birds and fish.


Chameleons –

Chameleons are members of the lizard family called Chamaelontidae. They are mostly found in Africa and Madagascar, but sometimes also in Europe and Asia. Chameleons have very short necks, which makes it impossible for them to turn their heads. To compensate for this, they have very large eyes that can move independently of each other. The chameleon’s main food is insects. An interesting characteristic of the chameleon is that it has layers of pigmented cells that can be pushed towards the surface of the skin to change its colors. The chameleon does not change colors to camouflage themselves, instead, they change in response to light, temperature, and mood. 


Geckos -
Gecko's are found in the wild only in warm climates, and are classified in the Family of Gekkonidae with numerous subfamilies. Some species even are known to share habitats with a human, which is not discouraged because of the geckos’ diet of insect pests. Scientist have been studying the design of the gecko's feet because they cling to nearly any surface. The Bible at Proverbs 30:28 even mentions the gecko's ability to hang on with its hand like feet. The specialized toe pad enables them to walk on walls and even ceilings with ease.

The skink family, 
Scincidae, make up the largest family of lizards.  They are found all over the world with the exception of the polar regions.  They tend to be gray or brown (which provides good camouflage), and they range from 1-26 inches in length.    Like many lizards, skinks have the ability to leave a tail behind while they escape from a predator, and the tail will grow back.  Skinks prey on insects and spiders.  Most skinks lay eggs, but some give birth to live young.  Your student may want to research the popular Blue-tongued Skink from Australia.

Monitors belong to the Varanidae family; they are all lizards who live in tropical regions including Africa, Asia, Australia, and the Pacific Islands.  These lizards are active and can lash out with their tails if they are provoked; they also attack by biting-- and once they bite, it is very difficult to get them to release.  Different species of monitors eat different things, but they are carnivorous and you might find grasshopperes, bettles, crocodile and bird eggs, shrews, squirrels, crabs, giant land snails, or fish on the menu.  Some are aquatic (and very good swimmers), and some are agile climbers, but they spend most of their time on land.   Monitors vary in size from very small (less than a foot in length) to huge (364 pounds!). 

Gila Monsters-
You probably wouldn't want a Gila Monster for a pet!  It has a row of glands in its lower jaw that produce venom.  When this lizard bites, it grips for several seconds and injects poison into its victim.  Although the bite hurts, it rarely causes a human to die.   It does give a warning first-- it will open its mouth wide and hiss-- this tells predators to back off!   Gila monsters are carnivores and feast on birds' eggs, baby birds, rodents, frogs, lizards, insects, centipedes, and worms;  they are also known to eat carrion (dead animals).  When they eat, they don't chew; they just gulp their food down whole (with the exception of eggs-- they break them open).   Gila monsters are classified in the
Helodermatidae Family.  It is named for the Gila River in Arizona and it is the largest lizard in the United States.  You can find Gila monsters in desert and semidesert areas; just look for lizards covered with beadlike scales of black and pink or yellow.   

Unique Lizards

Komodo Dragons -
Komodo dragons are in the monitor family.  Like most lizards, Komodo Dragons are oviparous, laying their eggs in caves. The mother protects her eggs for three months until they hatch. Once they hatch the babies are abandoned by their mother and they run up trees to prevent becoming her breakfast and food to other large Komodo Dragons! The babies spend their first year as arboreal lizards then start to come down to eat with the adults when they are large enough to defend themselves. A Komodo Dragon is an adult at about 6 years old and the cycle begins again. As Adults they may weigh as much as your mom and dad together, about 350 pounds, and be as long as 10 feet! That’s about as long as your car! Komodo Dragons hunt similar to snakes in that they use their forked tongue to smell prey up to five miles away. After catching its prey at speeds of up to 20 KM per hour each Dragon eats about 80% of its own body weight at one time. Animals like deer, monkeys, and goats can be swallowed whole, although it would take about a week to digest such a meal.
Komodo Dragon Triangle

The Jaragua Lizard
Now that we've talked about the largest lizard, the Komodo dragon, let's turn to the smallest lizard!  The Jaragua lizard was discovered in 2001 on the tiny Caribbean island of Beata, off the coast of the Dominican Republic.    A female adult Jaragua lizard can fit curled up on a dime!    (Picture of one on a dime)

The Basilisk Lizard
The basilisk lizard, also known as the Jesus lizard, is a small lizard that seems to defy the laws of physics.   This small lizard can walk on water (hence, it's nickname) at speeds up to 7 mph.  Scientists are still studying this unique lizard, trying to determine just how it can stay on top of the water.  The basilisk belong to the lizard family Iguanidae.  Basilisks live in the understory trees and shrubs of rain forests from southern Mexico to Ecuador. They are excellent swimmers and divers, so they are usually found near water. They eat plants, fruit, insects, and small animals.   Another neat fact about the basilisk is that they tend to sleep at the very end of the branches of the tree overtop of a pond or lake, that way if a predator comes along and shakes the branches, the basilisk will fall off into lake and escape.

Watch one walk on water!   

Glass Lizards
The unique feature of glass lizards is that they have no legs!  They are often called glass snakes, since they look like snakes.  They get the "glass" part of their name, because as a defense mechanism, they will shed their tail, which then breaks into several pieces.  (Have you ever dropped a glass and it broke into lots of pieces?)   Although they look very similar to snakes, they do have ear openings, movable eyelids, and lose part of their tail in self-defense, just like their lizard cousins.   A new species of legless lizards was just discovered in April of 2008 in Brazil.

The Frilled Lizard
The frilled lizard lives mostly in the trees of the forest and woodland area of northern Australia.  They are mostly carnivorous, usually feeding on ants, spiders, termites, and small mammals and lizards.  When the frilled lizard is threatened, it will open its mouth and hiss loudly and ruffle out a red and orange neck frill that makes it look fierce.  If this fails to send its opponent running, the frilled lizard turns tail and runs on its two hind legs until it reaches the safety of a tree.

You may want to record facts about these unique lizards in your
Leapin' Lizards! minit books.

Lizard Senses

Sight— Many lizards can see in color; this helps lizards differentiate between males and females.  It also helps them use their colorful body parts to communicate with each other. 
Most lizards have eyelids that clean and protect their eyes when they blink.  However, some lizards (including geckos), can't blink!   These types of lizards have a clear membrane (or shield) that protects their eyes from bright sunlight and dirt. 

Smell and Taste— Lizards use their tongues to smell things!   It sticks its tongue into the air and catches scent particles, then it pulls them back in to its mouth and places them on the roof of its mouth on special sensory cells. The lizard uses these scent clues to find food, to find a mate, or to detect enemies. 

Hearing— Lizards don’t have ear flaps like you do.  Instead of outer ears, lizards have ear openings that catch sounds.  Their eardrums can be located just below the surface of their skin.  They can't hear as well as humans, but they do hear better than snakes.

Lizard Senses Side by Side

Where Can You Find Lizards?
Lizards are found on every continent except Antarctica, which is too cold for them to survive. Review the seven continents with your child – Africa, Asia, Australia, Antarctica, North America, South America, and Europe. Color in the continents where lizards can be found on the
Where in the World do Lizards Live? Shutterfold.

Most lizards can swim (they are aquatic or semi-aquatic). A few species of lizards such as the giant sea iguana spend most of their lives in or around water, but commonly lizards try to avoid it because they are not designed to live in wet climates.


Lizard Diets
Lizards eat invertebrates like worms, crayfish, spiders and insects or plants like algae and various leaves. Occasionally the larger species such as the Komodo Dragon will eat larger prey.


Predators of the Lizard
Predators and threats to the lizard include birds, fish, snakes, mammals and even some other lizards. Aboriginal peoples of many lands include lizards in their diet. Habitat destruction is another danger lizards face from humans.

The majority of lizards are oviparous (Gecko, Monitor) which means that they lay eggs and may even abandon the eggs after they have laid them. There are a few such as some species of skinks that are viviparous meaning they have some sort of placenta in their bodies and give birth to live babies.

Shedding Skin
You already know that lizards are covered in dry, scally skin, but did you know that their skin doesn't grow with their bodies?  As they grow, lizards shed (or molt); their skin comes off in large flakes to make way for the new skin growth that is emerging.

Lapbook Component- Out with the Old!


Bible/Copy Work

Use these Bible verses for memorization and/or copywork exercises throughout the week.   Store your work in the Bible Verse Pocket .

Proverbs 30:28
Genesis 1: 20-25

Story Starters
As you complete this unit, your child may enjoy a creative writing assignment. Here are a couple of story starters that could be used.

Today I caught a lizard.  I showed it to mom and...

My name is ______ and I am a student at ______. I am studying to be a herpetologist. In my science lab this week we discovered a new species of lizard that was larger/smaller than any other that has ever been discovered. This is our story…

Lizard Border Paper as desired.
Lizard Stationary Regular Lines
Lizard Stationary Primary Lines
Pocket for Story

Additional Research
Students could do additional research at the library to discover which lizards are on what continents.
Students could research size of Lizards, and compare and contrast them on


Links and References

Lizard Research
More Lizard Research
Child Friendly Lizard Links 

San Diego Zoo Lizard Info 

Printables at Enchanted Learning
Foster and Smith Reptile Catalog
Chameleon Info

Just for Fun
Make a Lizard Paper Craft

Field Trip
Visit a pet store that may have iguanas or chameleons for sale. You may even get to help the store employees feed the reptile.


Free Clip Art