Many students have a favorite animal – dogs, pandas, dolphins – the list goes on and on. They like to learn about these animals through stories, pictures, crafts, and discovery projects. While their sense of wonderment is high – the excitement of discovering a new lizard in the backyard or the amazing feeling when a bald eagle circles overhead – this can also be a great time to teach young people about having respect for other living things.
Bald Eagle: As the national emblem of the United States, we see images of the bald eagle all around. Ask your students to name some places where they’ve seen the image of a bald eagle and they might list: the back of a quarter, a postage stamp, or a passport cover. Have any of them been lucky enough to see the majestic bird in the wild? The Rachel Carson Council recently developed a fun activity guide for young people that is all about the eagle. It includes fun games like a word search, drawing prompts, and informational facts and timelines.
Giant Panda: A highlight of many zoos around the world, the giant panda is on many “favorite” lists. The uniqueness of the creature along with its rarity in the wild has lifted the panda to almost a celebrity status. There are panda cams that allow you to watch real-time panda action right from your computer. The National Zoo website’s panda page is accessible to students and adults alike, providing basic panda facts, photographs, and information on conservation efforts around the world.
The PopEd K-5 teaching resource Counting on People includes an entire unit on the connections between people and wildlife. In addition to a background reading and five wildlife-focused lesson plans, it provides a comprehensive list of background resources for you, the teacher, and ideas for service learning projects that will put your students in touch with the wildlife around them.