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Elk Anatomy - Early Elementary (PEEC)

TopicLaboratory and Hands-on Activities - Arts and Crafts
Wildlife - Mammals
Wildlife - Adaptations
This lesson teaches basic anatomy of an elk using a giant floor puzzle.
Recommended SettingIndoor classroom
LocationPonca Elk Education Center, Ponca, AR

Education Program Coordinator, 870-861-2432


Duration30 - 40 minutes
Suggested Number of ParticipantsUp to 25
  • Learn simple anatomy of an elk
  • Construct a floor puzzle which reinforces the lesson
Key Terms*





Giant floor puzzle of an elk

Scissors, crayons

Small paper puzzles (class set)



Certain body parts of an elk are important for its survival.


  1. Seat the participants in a large semicircle, facing the instructor.
  2. Show a picture of an elk. Tell them they will be learning about some of the body parts of an elk and why these parts are important for its survival.
  3. Hold up one piece of the puzzle and see if they can tell what it is. Let them guess, but don’t tell the answer yet.
  4. Give that piece to one of the participants. Continue this process until each piece has been given out.
  5. Have the participants come up to the front of the semi circle one at a time. As each participant comes up, explain what piece of the puzzle he/she has and why that particular body part is important.
  6. Place the piece on the floor. Continue until the puzzle is assembled on the floor. During the assembly, include the following information about the elk:
    • Nose – Elk have a keen sense of smell to detect danger and avoid predators.
    • Eyes – The eyes are on the sides of the head, helping them to see in almost every direction and making it possible to detect even the slightest movements of predators.
    • Ears – The ears are large and dish-shaped and catch a lot of sound. (Have participants cup their hands behind their ears to demonstrate.) The ears also can rotate forward and backward, allowing for better sound detection from different directions.
    • Neck – The neck is long and allows the elk to lift its head high to spot potential danger.
    • Legs – The long, lean muscles are designed to run swiftly in long graceful strides, jump fences and climb steep slopes.
    • Toes – Elk have four toes with the two outer toes on the back called dew claws. The larger two toes are what they walk on and form a hoof covered by a tough, thick toenail. By staying on their tiptoes, elk can reach speeds of up to 35 miles per hour and remain surefooted on uneven ground.
    • Stomach – The stomach is very important for the survival of the elk. Elk must eat a large amount quickly to avoid being hunted by predators. The elk stomach has four chambers, which allow them to consume a lot quickly and hide to relax and chew its cud slowly. The next three chambers digest the food.
  7. After the puzzle is completed, give small copies of the puzzle to each participant. They can color it, cut it out and reassemble it.
  8. To reinforce the lesson, talk individually with the participants about the elk body parts as they assemble their puzzles.
  • Elks’ eyes are on the sides of the head. How does this keep them safe from predators?
  • How do the elks’ large dish-shaped ears keep them safe?
  • How many chambers does an elk’s stomach have? How does this keep the elk safe?

Anatomy – the physical structure of an animal, plant, or other organism, or of any of its parts

Predator – an animal that hunts and kills other animals usually for food


Survival – remaining alive or in existence