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        Signs of Migration

        Students research and examine the practical and instinctual characteristics of the migration patterns of many different animal species. The will also work in groups to illustrate their research and make presentations.

        Lesson Summary


        Although much is known about migration, a certain sense of mystery still surrounds the innate sense of pattern associated with it. Year after year, organisms of all shapes, sizes, and categories continue the patters of previous generations. Students will explore the different migratory histories, paths, and motivations for various animal species and use their research to create unique posters that will illustrate and display their research about the migration or a particular animal. The research should include details about habitat, reproduction, migration distance, seasonal changes and other key elements of migration. They will then present these posters before coming together to create a master list about why organisms migrate.


        • Students will be able to identify, describe, and explain migration and reasons why organisms migrate.
        • Demonstrate teamwork and presentation skills

        Grade Level: 5-8

        Suggested Time

        • Two to three class periods

        Media Resources


        • pens or markers
        • large sheets of poster paper, or butcher paper
        • computers with Internet access
        • printer
        • example poster (you will create this)
        • scissors

        Before the Lesson

        • Arrange a computer and printer access for student use in small groups.
        • Read the background essay for the resource and review the discussion questions.

        The Lesson

        Part I: Assigning Groups and Topics

        1. Have students sit in groups of 2-3

        2. Post and discuss th overarching question: "Why Do Organisms Migrate?" with students. Show them the Ladybug Pajama Party QuickTime Video. Then have them brainstorm a list of why the know animals might migrate. Record answers and retain list.

        3. Have students choose an organism for the following list that they are interested in finding out more about in their groups (or add to the list yourself)

        1. Whales – humpback, beluga, blue, etc.
        2. Monarch butterflies
        3. Geese – Canadian, snow, etc.
        4. Turtles – leather-back, etc.
        5. Eagles – bald, golden, etc.
        6. Ducks – mallard, etc
        7. Salmon – Alaskan, etc
        8. Wildebeest (gnu)

        Part II: Research

        4. Once groups have chose their topic species, review the overall assignment:

        • Students will be researching their group’s organism and then each group will create a poster about their organism’s migration. They will present these posters to the class and take questions about their organism.

        5. Give the following questions to students while they research. All students should take notes on all questions:

        1. Describe your organism –what does it look like – color, size, weight, hooves?, claws?, wing span?, color?, fur?, exoskeleton?, Feathers?, Etc
        2. Where does your organism live in the summer? In the fall? In the winter? In the spring?
        3. What motivation does this organisms have to migrate? (food, mating, etc.)
        4. Why do they migrate when they do (what happens that tells them to migrate)?
        5. How does your organisms know where to migrate?
        6. What path does your organism take while migrating between its different habitats? (You will need to find a map for this)
        7. What size population of your organism migrate at the same time?

        Part III: Create the Poster

        6. When most groups (or all) have finished their research, show students an example of a poster about ladybugs. or whatever migrating organism you choose.

        7. Post Guidelines for creating the poster:

        1. At the top, include a title that includes the name of that organism your group researched.
        2. On the back, list the names of the group members.
        3. Use bulleted points to list information.
        4. All answers to the research questions should be answered on the poster.
        5. Posters must have at least one picture (from the internet) that illustrates the organism. Other illustrations are encouraged.

        Part IV: Poster Presentation

        8. Once all groups have completed their posters, students will present about their posters and explain their answers to their research questions. After presentations, groups answer questions about their organisms. (Help out any groups that aren’t sure of the answers and/or make a list of questions that the class could not answer and then allow students to research them for extra credit.)

        Part V: Return to Question

        9. Post the brainstorm list that students started on the first day about “Why do organisms migrate?”

        10. Discuss with students: “We have just heard many presentations about all different types of organisms that migrate. What can you now add to this list about migration?” Record additions to the list.


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