Homeschool Share: an online homeschool curriculum cooperative hosting over 500 unit studies, lapbooks, printables, and other resources.

FREE Sloth Animal Study & Lapbook

Sloth Animal Study & Lapbook
Created by Kristina Johnson



Anatomy Envelope Fold
Sloth Numbers
Library List
Did You Know
Classification Flap Books
Copywork Book #1
Dinner Wheel
Camouflage Defenses T-book
Copywork Book #2
Compare Contrast Matchbook
S is for Sloth (with image)
In the Zoo
Say that Again!
S is for Sloth (draw your own)
Vocabulary Flap
Finding Sloths
Layers of the Rainforest
Cover Page Answer Key Alternative Books**

**We didn't use the sloth numbers or vocabulary books, but I wanted to cover some of the information in those books so we used these instead.

Books and Stories about Sloths:

Slowly, Slowly, Slowly Said the Sloth, Eric Carle

Score One for the Sloths, Helen Lester

Sloth’s Shoes, Jeanne Willis

Sloths (Nature Watch), Melissa Stewart

Sloths (Paws and Claws), Sara Swan Miller

Baby Sloth (Nature Books), Aubrey Lang

The Upside-Down Sloth (Rookie Read About Science), Fay Robinson

Books and Stories about the Rainforest:

The Great Kapok Tree, Lynn Cherry
The Umbrella, Jan Brett
Nature’s Green Umbrella, Gail Gibbons
The Parrot Tico Tango, Anne Witte
The Magic School Bus in the Rainforest


When referring to the animal, “sloth” is pronounced with a long “o” as in oath. 



Arboreal: tree living

Raptor: A bird of prey

Vertebrae: bones or segments that make up the spine.

Nocturnal: active at night

Herbivore: an animal that eats vegetation

Canopy: cover formed by the leafy upper branches of the trees in the rainforest

Vocabulary Flap


Scientists divide Sloths into 2 families, the two-toed Sloth and the 3-toed Sloth.  Both have 3 claws on their hind legs.  It is on the front legs that the number of claws differs.  Within each, there are several different species.  Classification Flap Books

Two-Toed Sloth -

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Subphylum: Vertebrata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Xenarthra

Suborder: Pilosa

Genus: Choloepus

Species: Hoffmanni; Didactylus

Three-Toed Sloth –

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Subphylum: Vertebrata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Xenarthra

Suborder: Pilosa

Genus: Bradypus

Species: Torquatus; Tridactylus; Variegatus

Physical Characteristics:

Both males and females are the same in appearance. 

They are 21-29 inches long and weigh 9-19 pounds. 

Sloths have round, flat faces, small ears and big eyes.  Their nose is flat and round, resembling a pig’s snout.

There are 2 curved claws on the front legs of the two-toed sloth and 3 on the front legs of the three-toed Sloth.  Both two and three- toed Sloths have 3 claws on their hind legs.  Their claws are 3-4 inches in length and are used to grasp tree limbs as they climb. The legs of the three-toed sloth are longer than the rear ones.  The legs of the two-toed sloth are more similarly sized.  The front limbs are very strong. 

Three-toed Sloths have a small tail.  The two-toed Sloth does not have a tail at all. 

Sloths have dense, shaggy hair.  Unlike the hair of other mammals that grows from the back down towards the belly, the Sloth’s hair grows from the belly towards the back.  This is uniquely suited to their upside down lifestyle and allows the rain water to run off. This top layer of hair is long, very coarse, and grooved.  It is brown or gray in color.  During the rainy season, they turn a greenish color due to algae living in the groove of their hair.  Beneath this top layer of coarse hair is a layer of downy hair that helps to protect the sloth from insects. 

Sloths make a long, high-pitched sound.  It sounds like aaaaa-eeeee. 

Compare Contrast Matchbook

Did You Know


The sloth has a long tongue, large peg-like teeth and hard, tough lips.  It uses its tongue to tug on food and pull it to their mouth.  It then tears the food with its lips and grinds it with its teeth. 

The sloth’s body temperature is the lowest of all mammals, at 93 degrees. It fluctuates with the temperature of its environment like that of a cold-blooded creature such as a snake.  Its body temperature can fluctuate as much as 10 degrees in one day.  If our temperature fluctuates even just 5 degrees, it is life threatening. 

The stomach of a sloth is compartmentalized, like that of a cow.  (See Diet for more information).

Vertebrae are the bones that form the spine.  The three-toed sloth has 9 neck vertebrae while the two-toed sloth only has 6 or 7.   Most mammals have 7.  The extra neck vertebrae of the three-toed sloth allow it to turn its head farther to the right and left than any other mammal. 

Sloths are extremely slow due to the anatomy of their limbs.  They are unable to stand on their rear legs and walk like most mammals.  When on the ground, they must pull themselves slowly along with their front limbs.  They are strong climbers and swimmers.  When swimming, they use an overarm stroke with their strong front limbs. 

Because Sloths are so inactive, their muscle mass is much less than that of other mammals.  This explains their lower weight and also makes it easier for them to climb on thin branches in the canopy where they can hide more easily. 

Anatomy Envelope Fold

Reproduction and Life Cycle:

Sloths mate and give birth while hanging upside down in the tree.  A female sloth gives birth to one offspring each year after 11 ˝ months.  The baby sloth is born headfirst and uses its claws to cling to its mother.  Once its legs are free, it wraps its legs around its mother and begins to nurse. The average baby weighs 12ounces and is 10 inches long. The baby clings to its mother for about 5 weeks.  It is fully mature at 3-5 years.

Sloths live 12- 20 years in the wild and as much as 30 years in captivity. 

Sloth Numbers


Sloths are almost entirely nocturnal and arboreal.   They eat, sleep, mate and give birth while in the trees (hanging upside down!).   They sleep or remain still during the day and eat at night. 

Range and Habitat:

Sloths live in the canopy layer of the rainforests of central and northern South America from Nicaragua and south through Venezuela, Brazil and Peru.  The rainforest biome a tropical, wet climate and is made up of 4 layers.  The canopy layer is the primary layer that is home to birds, reptiles and mammals.  The trees in the canopy grow 60-130 feet and create an umbrella or roof over the other 2 layers.  This is where the Sloth makes its home.  The Sloth is able to get all that it needs in the trees and only goes to the forest floor once a week to defecate.

The other 3 layers of the rainforest include the emergent layer with trees that “break through” the canopy and can grow to be 240 feet high.  This is home to birds and insects.  The understory is the layer beneath the canopy.  The canopy blocks light and this layer is dark and humid.  Monkeys, birds, snakes, bats, frogs and butterflies make their home here.  The forest floor is very dark and home to many insects and the largest animals of the rainforest. 

Finding Sloths

Layers of the Rainforest

Diet, Digestion and Waste:
Sloths are herbivores.  The two-toed sloth will eat leaves, buds, stems and fruits from many varieties of trees.   The three-toed sloth eats just leaves, and only from a few trees.  They get water from the juicy leaves and from the dew that collects on them.   Occasionally, the sloth will eat some of the algae from its coat.   

The Sloth’s metabolic rate is about ˝ that of other similarly sized mammals.  It sleeps up to 16 hours a day.  It can take up to a month for some of the vegetation to completely digest. The sloth’s stomach contains cellulose (a type of bacteria) to aid in digestion. 

This slow digestion process causes the sloth to need to defecate only once a week.   It will leave the tree and move to the ground to deposit its droppings, unlike monkeys and other arboreal animals that defecate from up in the trees.  This is one of the few times that a Sloth will leave the tree.  They urinate from the trees, but only when the rain can mask their urine stream. 

Dinner Wheel

The main predators of the Sloth are carnivores (flesh eating animals) such as ocelots, jaguars and raptors (birds of prey) such as the harpy eagle.  They are also prey to tree snakes.  Humans also hunt the sloth for their meat and coat. 


Because they move so slowly, the sloth’s main defense is camouflage.  As long as the sloth remains still and quiet, they are very difficult to detect.  Their brown/gray coloration helps them to blend in their environment.  They sleep curled up in a tight ball.  This closely resembles a termite nest and allows them to go undetected by raptors and other predators.  During the rainy season, when the trees are green, algae forms on their hair, giving them a greenish color allowing them to blend successfully with the trees.  When on the ground (which is not often), the sloth can defend itself if necessary by slashing at a predator with its long claws.   

Camouflage Defenses T-book

Bible Application:
We can see God’s wisdom in how perfectly the Sloth was created for its habitat.  Consider with your child how wonderfully made the Sloth is. 

The bible uses the term slothful in many places.  As a child of God, we are to be diligent and hardworking, not slothful and lazy.  Read the following verses with your child and discuss how being slothful is contrary to God’s will for His children. 

Judges 18:9

Proverbs 12:24,  12:27, 15:19, 18:9, 19:24, 21:25, 22:13, 24:30, 26:13-15,

Matthew 25:26

Romans 12:11

Hebrews 6:12

Copywork Book #1

Copywork Book #2

Related Homeschool Share Units:

The Great Kapok Tree 

Lake of the Big Snake

Chocolate Unit

Links about Sloths:

Enchanted Learning about Sloths

Sloth Paper Craft


Links about the Rainforest:

Rainforest General Info

Printable Rainforest Flash Cards

Enchanted Learning

Materials and information on this website belong to the original composers. It may be used for your own personal and school use. 
© 2005-07 HSS