Teacher Resource

Life as a Lizard Unit and Role Playing Game

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Full body horizontal view of lizard slightly turned downward on a tree
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A close up view showing the head and front legs. The photo provides an excellent view of the pale peach and black bead like markings on the body.

Above left: Image copyright © A.T. Holycross. Sceloporus magister (Desert Spiny Lizard), Coconino County, AZ. Above right: Image copyright © 2003 Tom Brennan. Heloderma suspectum (Gila Monster), Pima County, AZ.

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The AZPARC logo This unit's content provided by Arizona Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, AZPARC.

Unit Description

  • Summary: This unit provides an overview of lizard biology culminating in the "Life as a Lizard" role playing game. The game gives students a chance to move around indoors or outdoors, and use their movement to learn about lizards and their behavior. Participants take on the identities of lizards and act out a day and night in the life of many different species of lizard. There are no winners or losers, only the successful completion of a day and night as a lizard. The game's props are easily made and the unit contains step by step lessons, glossary words, background information, internet and multimedia resources, trivia activities, and suggestions for math extensions and additonal student investigations.

For information about grade level, education standards, time frame and more please see the following section.

Learning Resource Information

  • ToL Learner Level: Beginner; Intermediate
  • Student Grade Level: Grades 3 through 12. Not all the information is appropriate for every audience and lessons should be adapted and/or included according to teacher and student preference.
  • Time frame: This unit can take from two to three class periods of ~45 minutes or it can be spread out over two weeks with ~ 45 minutes of time spent daily.
  • Curricular Areas: Science, Language Arts, Reading
  • Learning Styles: Physical activity, role playing, hands-on
  • Key Science Concepts: Evolution, Geographic distribution, Adaptation, Foraging Patterns, Animal Behavior, Predator Prey Relationships, Habitats, Characteristics of Lizards
  • Unit Learning Objectives: (individual lessons will have additional objectives)
    • To introduce students to lizard biology.
    • To identify and describe different species of lizards that live in the Sonoran Desert.
    • To understand predator/prey interactions.
    • To understand the importance of lizards in nature.
    • To foster a feeling of stewardship towards the organisms that live around us.
    • To introduce the specifics of desert lizard ecology and biological communities.
  • State Education Standards: View all State Education Standards available for this Unit
  • National Education Standards: View all National Education Standards available for this Unit

Lesson Plans, Activities and More

Follow the links below to access lesson plans and activities. Materials listed for these lessons are available in the "ToL Learning Materials" section of each page. Not every part of the unit needs to be completed, feel free to modify the timeline, omit or add pieces as you see fit. Items marked with an *asterisk are deemed necessary for playing the life as a lizard game. You can add additional learning resources to the unit by registering as a treehouse builder.

  • Part 2: Research and Preparation Includes:
    • Lesson 2.1 ~ 45 min. *Assign and Review Lizard, Predator and Prey Roles (Give out Cast Cards).
    • Lesson 2.2 ~ 1hr. Gathering More Information - Researching Lizard Roles
    • Lesson 2.3 Student Role Playing Preparation Activities
  • Part 4: Suggested Extensions
  • Under Construction
    • Become a treehouse contributor and create a treehouse on lizards. Your treehouse can be an investigation, game, story, art and culture piece or a teacher resource.

Learning Materials

Learning Information

Education Standards

State Education Standards

State Standards

National Education Standards

National Standards

About This Page
Collection: Arizona Partners in Reptile and Amphibian Conservation, AZ PARC
Primary Author: Craig Ivanyi, Herpetology Curator of the Sonoran Desert Museum and AZ PARC Education Working Group Coordinator. Additional Authors and AZ PARC Education Working Group Members: Cori Dolan, Lisa Schwartz, Kat Wilson, Cristina Jones, Dave Prival, Dennis Caldwell and Taylor Edwards. Special thanks to the teachers who piloted the lessons and gave invaluable feedback: Kristen Trejos, Angela Bonine and Karen Bradley.

Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to Lisa Schwartz at

All Rights Reserved.

 Treehouses are authored by students, teachers, science enthusiasts, or professional scientists. Anyone can sign up as a treehouse contributor and share their knowledge and enthusiasm about organisms. Treehouse contributions are checked for general accuracy and quality by teachers and ToL editors, but they are not usually reviewed by expert scientists. If you spot an error, please get in touch with the author or the teacher. For more information about quality control of Tree of Life content, see Status of Tree of Life Pages.

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