Animal welfare, navigation and migration

14th June 2013 at 01:00


Something burrowed

Moles are industrious creatures. One mole can create 20m of intricate subterranean tunnels a day, burrowing beneath woodland, grassland and farmland, and leaving behind their characteristic mounds of earth.

But how do they navigate underground, and how do they know where to excavate? What measurements might moles use? Or do they work on instinct?

Turn your students into "moles" for a lesson. Teach them about animal structures, as well as shape, space, positions and directions. Make the lesson as practical as you like.

Alternatively try a maze activity from TESiboard (bit.lyMoleMaze). Put the children into pairs and set them the task of moving a mole around a maze by working out the direction and distance required. Challenge the students to use as few steps as possible - just like an efficient, hard-working mole.


The bear necessities

From Gentle Ben to the loyal Baloo, the affable Winnie-the-Pooh and the charming Paddington, the bear has long been a mainstay of children's literature.

What these bears have in common is their kind and gentle nature. They tend to be vegetarian, and would rather eat honey or marmalade sandwiches than humans. Some are even partial to a teddy bears' picnic. None has ever been known to attack people.

Storybook bears often form friendships with children. They are a helpful and humorous kind of bear, but how do they compare with the real thing?

Ask your students to think of as many words as possible to describe fictional bears and real ones. What are the differences? Why are the bears we read about in stories so friendly and lovable? Would we still care for them if they were dangerous and scary?

Another activity could focus on the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Read the tale as a class and encourage your students to practise their listening, language and communication skills. The children could rewrite the story in their own words or perform a role play. You could even get them to eat some porridge.


A perilous journey

Every year, in one of the most impressive spectacles on Earth, millions of wildebeest embark on a 500-mile trek from the Serengeti plains of Tanzania to Kenya's Masai Mara in search of grassy pastures and safe breeding grounds. It is a long and hazardous journey.

But the wildebeest migration is not only imperilled by predators. In the past 40 years, it is humans who have had the greatest negative impact, causing the number of wildebeest to fall by 90 per cent in some areas. A growing population and the sprawl of roads, houses and developments from Kenyan capital Nairobi, spreading south towards the Masai Mara, have led to more fences. This has restricted the animals' movements.

Ask your students to consider the impact that human structures can have on the lives of animals. As a starting point, trace the journey of the wildebeest and see how it has altered over time. Then follow the migration paths of three animal families with a video from TES Connect partner Film Education (visit bit.lyAnimalFilm). Watch the polar bear and her cubs, the humpback whale and her calf and the elephant and her herd undertake their quests for safety and survival.

What effects have humans had on the natural habitats of the animals in the film? How would your students change this?


- Introduce students to different species and the threats they face in an activity from TES Connect partner RSPB. bit.lyVote forNature

- Have fun with TES Connect partner Sesame Street's video of the Three Bears. bit.lySesame StreetBears

- Go on an interactive bear hunt, focusing on literacy, rhythm and repetition, in a lesson shared by meganhughes. bit.lyBear HuntPPT


- Follow the adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh with a story map from sarahlouise harris. bit.lyWinnieStoryMap

- Find out about the habitats and migration patterns of African animals with a PowerPoint from claudz. bit.lyAfricanAnimals

- Check out TES Resource Team's photo pack on animal habitats. bit.lyHabitats PhotoPack

- Guess the habitats of animals that live in your school area, in an activity from collaborative. bit.lySchool AnimalHunt.

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