Duck-Billed Platypus


Duck-Billed Platypus is a high-interest reading comprehension lesson that allows students to practice grade-appropriate reading comprehension, foundational reading, and reading fluency skills. These reading comprehension lessons are designed to be completed in one or two class settings.

Each lesson discusses a subject that students want to read about and that teachers will want to incorporate into their reading instruction. The lesson is appropriate as a whole-class, stand-alone lesson or as an independent small-group activity. Be sure to check if there is a Learn Bright video that goes with this lesson!

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What our Duck-Billed Platypus lesson plan includes

Lesson Objectives and Overview: Duck-Billed Platypus is a high-interest reading comprehension lesson plan. As such, students will practice various close reading and comprehension skills. In addition, they will learn about the platypus’s habitat, diet, and behaviors. This lesson is for students in 3rd grade, 4th grade, and 5th grade.

Classroom Procedure

Every lesson plan provides you with a classroom procedure page that outlines a step-by-step guide to follow. You do not have to follow the guide exactly. The guide helps you organize the lesson and details when to hand out worksheets. It also lists information in the yellow box that you might find useful. You will find the lesson objectives, state standards, and number of class sessions the lesson should take to complete in this area. In addition, it describes the supplies you will need as well as what and how you need to prepare beforehand.

Teacher Notes

The teacher notes page provides an extra paragraph of information to help guide the lesson and remind you what to focus on. It explains that you can teach this lesson in a whole-class setting or to an independent, small group as an activity. The blank lines on this page are available for you to write out thoughts and ideas you have as you prepare the lesson.


Platypuses and What They Eat

The Duck-billed Platypus lesson plan contains two pages of content. It provides a box with some of the main traits and characteristics of this animal. It is a carnivorous mammal from Australia that has a life span of approximately 10 to 12 years. This curious creature looks like a cross between a duck and a beaver. Many people agree it’s among the most interesting and unusual-looking animals int he world.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) describes the animal as “. . . a duck-billed, beaver-tailed, otter-footed, egg-laying aquatic creature native to Australia.” That’s quite a description! The platypus is semi-aquatic, meaning it lives most of its life between land and water. It has thick fur that allows it to stay in water for hours.

Another reason the duck-billed platypus is unique is that it’s one of the few mammals that lays eggs. One trait of mammals is a live birth, yet the platypus lays eggs. A female platypus lays eggs in underground burrows near the water’s edge. The eggs hatch around two weeks later. The baby platypus stays with the mother for about four weeks. That’s it! Then the young platypus swims off to forage for food on its own.

The odd collection of physical features of a platypus are useful tools to help it survive. A platypus’s bill may look very stiff and hard, but it’s actually not. Instead, the bill is flexible and soft and has thousands of receptors or super sensory organs. Because they are bottom feeders, platypuses needs these receptors to find food in the dark, muddy, and murky waters. Like sharks, these receptors send out signals that locate prey.

Platypuses use their web feet to push through the water quickly. Their tails are like a rudder on a ship that steer the animal to where it wants to go. Once the platypus has reached the bottom, it pushes the bill into the sand, scooping out small shellfish or insects. The platypus can stay underwater for nearly two minutes before it surfaces to breathe for air.

Other Interesting Facts

Here’s an interesting fact. The platypus doesn’t have teeth. As it shovels mud and silt into its bill, it also captures gravel and small rocks. They use these debris to chew and grind food. This small animal grows to about 15 inches in length. Adults only weigh about three pounds. The enemies of the platypus are snakes, birds, and wild dogs.

The platypus is a shy creature and seems defenseless from predators or animals that attack them. But looks can be deceiving. Male platypuses have sharp stingers on their rear feet. The stingers are venomous and capable of delivering a poisonous sting to attackers.

Scientists believe the platypus may be one of the earliest mammals to inhabit the earth. It may even have been around before dinosaurs became extinct more than 112 million years ago.

Why They Are Important

Unfortunately, the platypus is endangered and may become extinct we do not provide more protection to these remarkable creatures. In the early 1900s, people hunted platypuses for their fur. Until the 1950s, a large number of the animal got tangled in fishermen’s nets and drowned. Since then, fishermen’s nets have ways for the platypus to escape if they accidentally get caught. However, the greatest threat to the platypus is the destruction of their natural habitat along the Australian coast.

Bush fires, pollution, dams for irrigation, and increased human activity on the coast have created cause for concern. The platypus
is important to the environment in several ways. First, it is a carnivore that helps keep the population of the insects and shellfish it dines on in check. Second, it is one of the last remaining egg-laying mammals left on the planet. Finally, scientists believe the venom in the ankles of a male platypus may contain potential antibiotics or medicines that fight disease.


The Duck-Billed Platypus lesson plan includes two worksheets: an activity worksheet and a practice worksheet. Each one will help students solidify their grasp of the material they learned throughout the lesson. You can refer to the classroom procedure guidelines to know when to hand out each worksheet.


After reading the content pages, students will design an animal of their own. The animal must have three unusual traits that are realistic. Students should describe the animal’s habitat and diet. They can record this information in the table on the worksheet page and use the empty box to draw a picture of their unique creature.


For the practice worksheet, students will answer a series of 11 questions that test their knowledge and retention. These questions all relate to the content pages, so students will need to refer to them often for the answers. In addition, each question provides which reading tool the question corresponds to, such as text feature, vocabulary, or comprehension.

Worksheet Answer Keys

At the end of the lesson plan document is an answer key for the practice worksheet. The correct answers are all in red to make it easier for you to compare them with students’ responses. If you choose to administer the lesson pages to your students via PDF, you will need to save a new file that omits these pages. Otherwise, you can simply print out the applicable pages and keep these as reference for yourself when grading assignments.

Additional information


3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade


Science, High-Interest Reading

State Educational Standards


Lessons are aligned to meet the education objectives and goals of most states. For more information on your state objectives, contact your local Board of Education or Department of Education in your state.