It’s Fall and animals are on the move—migrating long distances and facing extreme challenges along the way.
Migration is a powerful compulsion, but it’s also very dangerous. Why do animals do it? Where do they go? How do they succeed? Find out the answers to these questions and so much more in the book Going Home: The Mystery of Animal Migration.
LESSON PLAN: The Mystery of Migration
This lesson will capture your students interest in the phenomena of migration as they learn about the ten species featured in the book, as well as species in your local area.
Suggested Grade Level: K-4
- Going Home: The Mystery of Animal Migration by Marianne Berkes
- Pictures of local animals
- Bookmarks of the 10 animals featured in the book, 1 set for each small group of 3-4 students (free download)
- World Map, 1 map for each pair of students (free download)
Download a detailed migration lesson, Going Home Lesson Plan, published by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and created by Emily Morgan and Karen Ansberry. This plan will take your students through the five stages of a science inquiry lesson. A brief synopsis of each stage of the lesson is below:
- Engage—Guess the animal being described in the read aloud using the bookmarks.
- Explore—Draw migration routes. Then compare distances.
- Explain—Sort the bookmarks in several ways: their reason for migrating, how they travel, and a category of their own choosing.
- Elaborate—Research the animals in your area that migrate and those that don’t migrate.
- Evaluate—Discuss the reason the author calls migration a mystery. Discuss the migration mysteries that scientists are still learning about.
Extension: Additional lessons for Going Home are available under “Activities” at www.dawnpub.com,
Common Core Standards (ELA K-4)
- ELA Writing: Research to Build and Support Knowledge K.7, 1.7, 2.7 3.7, 4.7
- ELA Reading Information Text: Key Ideas and Details (K.1, K.2, K.3, 1.1,1.2, 1.3, 2.1, 2.2,2.3, 3.1, 3.2 3.3, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3); Integration and Knowledge of Ideas (K.7, 1.7, 2.7, 3.7, 4.7)
Next Generation Science Standards (K-3)
- LS1.A: Structure and Function
- LS1.B: Growth and Development of Organisms
- LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems.
But what happens when we give children too much “bad news” about the environment?
Research shows that they may become fearful and anxious.* Even if our best intentions are to instill environmentally helpful behaviors, such as recycling or turning off the lights, we may be inadvertently giving kids the dauntinng message: “The ice caps are melting and it’s your job to fix the problem.”
So what’s a teacher to do?
“Without an abiding sense of comfort in and love for the natural world, no amount of chastising about turning off the lights is going to make a bit of difference,” states David Sobel.**
What will make a difference? The answer is simple: connect children and the curriculum to the near-by natural world.
- I notice . . .
- I wonder . . .
- It reminds me of . . .
Here’s a sample response from a 4th-grader standing under a fig tree:
- I notice that the fig leaves are different colors–some are green and others yellow.
- I wonder why one side f the leaf is sticky.
- It reminds me of a hand because of it’s shape.
The Next Generation Science Standards encourage children to think like a scientist, and that’s exactly what they’re doing in this activity.
- I notice: Scientists make observations.
- I wonder: Scientists ask questions–a lot of questions!
- It reminds me of: Scientists make connections.
Can’t get outside. No problem!
- Bring a variety of natural objects into the classroom and let children choose what they would like to look at.
- Use one of Dawn Publications’ beautiful picture books.
**David T. Sobel is an internationally-known researcher, practitioner, and promoter of developmentally appropriate environmental education for children. He’s an advocate of Place-Based Education.
The NPR (National Public Radio) series “Close Listening Series: Decoding Nature through Sound,” explores ways biologists are using sound to understand animal behavior.
Noisy Bug Sing-Along introduces children to interesting insects (life science) and the sound vibrations they create (physical science).
Children are treated to scientifically accurate, up-close depictions of some very cool bugs. It explains why the bugs make the sounds they do, and how they do it—and it’s not with their voices!
New technologies have revealed this hidden vibrational world to scientists, and your students can see what sound waves look like with these audio files.
Click here for a complete lesson plan that engages children by having them feel the vibrations they make when they hum. Then, through a demonstration, they learn the four ways that bugs make sound vibrations. The lesson ends with a fun, creative activity—designing an imaginary bug and creating the sound it makes.
Bees dancing, ladybugs munching, worms pooping, butterflies pollinating–wow!
A meadow ecosystem is a dynamic place, as animals find food and water, shelter and safety.
Using the book If You Love Honey, spark your students’ creativity with the lesson “In My Meadow.”
Lesson Plan: In this activity, children write a story about one animal’s experience as it moves around in meadow.
Common Core Standards (ELA K-3)
- Key Ideas and Details K.1, 1.1, 2.1
- Craft and Structure K.7, 1.7, 2.7
- Text Types and Purposes K.3, 1.3, 2.3, 3.3
- LS1 From Molecules to Organisms: Structure and Function
- LS2 Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
- LS4 Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity
I love the beginning of a new school year. Everyone (teachers, kids, and parents) have a clean slate.
It’s a time to approach learning with fresh energy and new perspectives — it’s a great opportunity to establish a regular routine of going outside.
Why Go Outside? Simply put—it can improve both classroom learning and classroom behavior.
There is no doubt that as a teacher, you get pulled in many directions as you try to offer your students the best possible educational opportunities. It’s a balancing act – you have to make some tough choices about how your students spend their time.
That’s why it’s worth remembering that a variety of research has shown that creatively engaging children with the natural world on a regular basis can make a huge difference in their health, well-being, and ability to learn.
- Students who spend more time outdoors in natural areas are more motivated and enthusiastic about learning. Their academic achievement is also higher across multiple subject areas.
- Having a natural view from a classroom makes a difference – it positively impacts both student academic achievement and behavior.
- Students’ classroom behavior is better when they have recess.
But when you can’t go outside, you can use books to foster an understanding and appreciation of nature.
This lesson is aligned with both Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards.
Just like eating potato chips, when you find a good book series, “you can’t read just one.”
Below are several series that will inspire kids and families go outside and discover the wonders of nature—you’ll have a great time and learn something fascinating too!
Extend your nature experience with activities from Dawn Publications.
A Field Trip Between Covers
Look at just one element in nature and you’ll discover a whole community of creatures living in, on, around, or under it. These books combine humor, a fun rhyme, good science, and brilliant illustrations.
The BLUES Go Birding—Want to inspire youngsters to appreciate birds? The BLUES books are the ticket. As one major reviewer said, it’s “a lighthearted romp with solid information on birds and bird watching that could inspire future ornithologists.”
Noisy Sing-along—This series is a wonderful bridge to a whole noisy, busy world of insects, frogs, and birds. Kids can sing-along with the book and then listen online to the actual sounds.
Noisy Bug Sing-along
Noisy Frog Sing-along
Noisy Bird Sing-along
Jo MacDonald—Young Jo is Old MacDonald’s granddaughter. Children will love joining her to discover three new habitats E-I-E-I-O!
Jo MacDonald Had a Garden
Jo MacDonald Hiked in the Woods
Jo MacDonald Saw a Pond
Earth Heroes—The books in this series are especially for upper elementary and middle school kids. They’re biographies that feature the youth, careers and lasting contributions of some of the world’s greatest naturalists and environmentalists.
The Universe Tells Its Own Story—This series tells the amazing story of the universe and our Earth’s creation with scientific accuracy but without diminishing the mystery and wonder.
Born With a Bang
From Lava to Life
Mammals Who Morph
LESSON PLAN: Name the Plant
In this activity, students solve fruit and vegetable riddles, learn about the six parts of a plant, and match the twelve fruits and vegetables in What’s in the Garden? to a specific plant part.
Suggested Grade Level: K-3
- The book What’s in the Garden?
- Optional: the 12 fruits and vegetables mentioned in the riddles–apple, lettuce, broccoli, blueberry, celery, tomato, cucumber, onion, potato, corn, and pumpkin
Download complete directions available on the Dawn Publications website. The lesson includes suggestions for younger and older students.
Easy-to-prepare recipes for each of the fruits and vegetables are included in the book, and bookmarks of all the plants are available on the Dawn Publications website, click the Activities tab and scroll to the bottom of the page.
Common Core Standards (ELA K-3)
- Reading: Literature–Key Ideas and Details (K.1, 2.1, 3.1); Craft and Structure (K.5, 1.5, 2.5, 3.5); Integration and Knowledge of Ideas (K.7, 1.7, 2.7, 3.7)
- Reading: Informational Text–Key Ideas and Details (K.1, 2.1, 3.1); Integration and Knowledge of Ideas (K.7, 1.7, 2.7, 3.7)
Next Generation Science Standards (DCI K-3)
- LS1: From Molecules to Organisms: A. Structures and Processes; B. Growth and Development of Organisms
- LS2: Ecosystems: A. Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics; B. Cycles of Matter and Energy in Ecosystems
- LS3: Heredity: A.Inheritance and Variation of Traits; B. Variation of Traits
GARDENING AWARDS GALORE
The Junior Master Gardener Program and the American Horticultural Society honor engaging, inspiring works of plant, garden and ecology-themed children’s literature through the “Growing Good Kids – Excellence in Children’s Literature Awards” Program.
(Answer to the riddle: Apple)
Children learn about the world they live in through their five senses, and the garden is rich in sensory experiences. In Molly’s Organic Farm, children experience a year on the farm through the eyes, ears, and paws of a stray cat—Molly!
A gate creaks open (hearing), Molly looks (seeing), Molly sniffs compost (smelling), the sun is hot (feeling), and Molly eats treats (tasting).
All of the sensory words in the story are compiled in a Sensory Word List in a pdf from Dawn Publications.
A list of additional resources and suggestions for more nature connections are also listed.
Grade Level Suggestion: K-2
Materials: the book Molly’s Organic Farm
- Review the five senses.
- Read aloud Molly’s Organic Farm pointing out the examples of Molly using her five senses on page 30. Show the class the related pages in the story, especially the small boxes that highlight Molly’s nose, tongue, paws, and eyes.
- Using the Sensory Word List, read a word and have students do a corresponding motion:
- Seeing—point to eyes
- Hearing—point to ears
- Smelling—point to nose
- Tasting—stick out tongue
4. You may then reread the entire story having children listen for and act out the sensory words.
There’s lots going in the school garden! Connect your students’ garden experiences with science—soil science!
Soil is like a thin living layer of skin covering the land. Everything we come into contact with on a daily basis can be traced back to soil. Soil is capable of supporting plant life and is vital to life on earth.
Read aloud the book Jo MacDonald Had a Garden. Youngsters learn about garden ecosystems and stewardship through this playful adaptation of “Old MacDonald Had a Farm.”
Then have them examine garden soil through observation and using scientific tools. Soils are complex mixtures of minerals, water, air, organic matter, and countless organisms that are the decaying remains of once-living things.
Suggested Grade Level: K-2
Complete directions, as well as extension activities, are provided in a PDF of “In a Speck of Soil” created by author Mary Quattlebaum. Your students will become “scientists” as they investigate the soil.
Common Core Standards (ELA K-2)
Reading Literature: Craft and Structure (K.5, 1.4, 2.4)
Next Generation Science Standards (DCI K-2)
LS-1: From Molecules to Organisms: Structure and Processes
LS-2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
PS-1: Matter and Its Interactions
Get the answers to these questions in this week’s lesson plan!
LESSON PLAN: Dawn Chorus
Listening to birds is a fascinating way to learn about animal communication. Noisy Bird Sing-Along introduces students to the sounds of 12 common birds. In this activity, students imitate the sounds of the birds as you “conduct” them in a “dawn chorus”—after listening to recordings of actual birds!
You may follow the directions below, or download a PDF of the lesson, which includes two handouts.
Next Generation Science Standards (DCI K-3)
Suggested Grade Level: K-3
- The book Noisy Bird Sing-Along
- Handout: “About the birds in this book,” included in PDF
- Handout: “Bird Sounds,” one copy to post or write on the board, included in PDF
- Overhead projector or white board
- Computer access to play the online sounds of actual birds from the Dawn Publications website
Cut apart the handout so that each bird is on a separate slip of paper
Note: This activity is adapted from Bird Sleuth’s Feathered Friends Activities, a collection of monthly lessons about birds. You can download an entire year of activities!
Take advantage of the free information and resources at BirdSleuth K-12.