Page 1

P ol ar Ma m m al s

Hi ghlights From Issue 10 (Januar y 2009) Orca whale. Photo courtesy of *Christopher*, Flickr.

Table of Contents

Polar Mammals, Issue 10 (January 2009) Science Content Knowledge

What is a Mammal? Answers from Ross MacPhee

By Robert Payo


Literacy Content Knowledge

Listening Comprehension Skills for Elementary Students

By Tracey Allen and Clarissa Reeson


Feature Story

White Wolf

By Stephen Whitt



Common Misconceptions About Mammals

By Jessica Fries-Gaither


Across the Curriculum: Lessons and Activities

Why Include Art in a Mammal Unit?

By Jessica Fries-Gaither


Science & Literacy: Lessons and Activities

Science and Literacy Lessons About Mammals

By Jessica Fries-Gaither


Off the Bookshelf

Mammals: Virtual Bookshelf

By Julie Moran


Copyright June 2010. Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears is produced by an interdisciplinary team from Ohio State University (OSU), College of Education and Human Ecology; the Ohio Resource Center (ORC) for Mathematics, Science, and Reading; the Byrd Polar Research Center; COSI (Center for Science and Industry) Columbus; the Upper Arlington Public Library (UAPL); and the National Science Digital Library (NSDL). This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0733024. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. For more information email: beyondpenguins@msteacher.org. Content in this document is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Printed version layout and design by Margaux Baldridge, Office of Technology and Enhanced Learning, College of Education and Human Ecology, The Ohio State University.


Science Content Knowledge What is a Mammal? Answers from Ross MacPhee By Robert Payo To bring you some basic facts about mammals, we interviewed Ross MacPhee, curator in the Dr. Ross MacPhee. Department of Photo courtesy of Clare Fleming, Mammalogy of AMNH. the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). A paleomammalogist, he travels around the world studying mammals of the ancient past as well as those of today. In particular, MacPhee studies woolly mammoths, the not-so-distant relatives of our present-day elephants.

WHAT IS A MAMMAL? MacPhee: Mammals are a group of animals known as vertebrates: animals with backbones and four legs [tetrapods], whose young develop through a series of complex birth membranes. They are the only animals that have distinct characteristics of hair, feed from mother's milk, and have three tiny bones that interpret sound into the brain. WHAT KIND OF MAMMALS DO YOU FIND IN THE ARCTIC? MacPhee: There aren’t that many completely distinctive Arctic animals when it comes to land mammals. They live in larger ranges beyond the Arctic. Some of the mammals that live in Arctic regions include large herbivores like musk ox and caribou; carnivores such as polar bears and arctic foxes; and smaller animals like arctic hares and other animals within rodent groups.

Sea mammals are very diverse. They consist of the whale family, which includes animals like porpoises and orcas; the seal group, consisting of walruses, sea lions, and ribbon seals. WHAT ABOUT ANTARCTIC MAMMALS? MacPhee: There are no land mammals in Antarctica and there haven't been for at least 30 million years because the conditions are permanently cold, unlike the Arctic. Just like in the Arctic, the seas are home to seals, whales, and porpoises, but, of course, comprised of different species. Baleen whales rely on krill and plankton that they eat in great quantities in the ocean. Krill also serve as a rich food source for seals.

WEDDELLPUP2. Photo courtesy of Henry Kaiser, U.S. Antarctic Program, National Science Foundation.


Science Content Knowledge WHAT ADAPTATIONS ENABLE MAMMALS TO LIVE IN A POLAR ENVIRONMENT? MacPhee: One of the main ways that mammals adapt to the polar regions is through mechanisms providing insulation, such as fur, blubber, and an efficient circulatory system. For marine mammals, insulation is less of a problem than you may think. As long as they're in water that's not frozen at 32 degrees Fahrenheit [0 degrees Celsius], a few inches of blubber and fur patterning that is high in R-value [thermal resistance] are sufficient insulation to keep them warm. On land, the extreme temperatures require that animals have other adaptations, one of the most significant ones being hibernation. Some mammals go into a true deep sleep while others go into what is known as estivation, reducing their activity in order to save their energy. For example, female polar bears give birth while they hibernate. They dig a cave in the snow and stay there until their pups are born, providing a warm enclosure for them and reducing any need to depart from their pups into the early stages of their development after they've been born.


Smaller mammals like rodents usually stay active the entire winter. As the snow melts, you can see runways underneath where they feed on grass shoots or roots-anything preserved under the snow for them to eat.

Mammals http:// animals.nationalgeographic.co m/animals/mammals.html An overview of mammals, and articles, sounds, and images of individual mammals.

Another way in which polar mammals survive is migration. This behavioral adaptation allows mammals to locate suitable feeding and breeding grounds. Both terrestrial mammals, such as caribou, and marine mammals, such as whales, migrate.

Polar Podcasts: Mammals https://onramp.nsdl.org/eserv/ onramp:16312/ Beyond_Penguins_and_Polar_ Bears_Podcast_-Episode_2__Mammals.mp3 Listen to excerpts from our interview with Ross MacPhee and learn about highlights from our magazine and blog in this podcast. Our new monthly podcast series is also available on the NSDL section of iTunes U: Beyond Campus.

RESOURCES Mammal Guide http://animal.discovery.com/ guides/mammals/ mammals.html Explore the world of mammals through categories such as Body Basics, Senses, Social Behavior, Mammal Watching, and Mammals by Biome. The Hall of Mammals http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/ mammal/mammal.html Information about four major groups of mammals: placental mammals, marsupials, monotremes, and the extinct multituberculata group.

NATIONAL SCIENCE EDUCATION STANDARDS: SCIENCE CONTENT STANDARDS The entire National Science Education Standards document can be read online or downloaded for free from the National Academies Press web site. The following excerpt was taken from Chapter 6, http:// books.nap.edu/openbook.php? record_id=4962&page=103. A study of mammals aligns with the Life Science content standards of the National Science Education Standards. In grades K-4, students focus on the characteristics and life cycles

Science Content Knowledge of organisms and the way in which organisms live in their environments. Students in grades 5-8 expand on this understanding by focusing on populations, communities of species, and the ways they interact with each other and with their environment. Teaching about mammals can meet a wide variety of fundamental concepts and principles, including: K-4 Life Science • The Characteristics of Organisms • Life Cycles of Organisms • Organisms and Their Environments 5-8 Life Science • Reproduction and Heredity • Regulation and Behavior • Populations and Ecosystems • Diversity and Adaptations of Organisms Top: Snow on Snout, Polar Bear. Photo courtesy of flickrfavorites, Flickr. Above Left: Caribou walk spring. Photo courtesy of Mickael Brangeon, Above Right: Arctic Hare. Photo courtesy of James Seith Photography, Flickr. Wikimedia Commons. Left: MOMBABY2. Photo courtesy of Steven Profaizer, U.S. Antarctic Program, National Science Foundation. Far Left: Arctic fox. Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.


Literacy Content Knowledge Listening Comprehension Skills for Elementary Students By Tracey Allen and Clarissa Reeson Although teachers devote numerous lessons to helping their students develop reading skills and strategies, often little time is devoted to developing listening comprehension skills. Many of our state-adopted reading programs understand the benefits of students practicing this skill and have used the teacher read-aloud as an avenue to meet the targeted comprehension skills for a given story. Unfortunately, most of the checking for understanding we do in the area of listening comprehension is subjective. We are not using measurable outcomes often enough to determine whether or not students have mastered a given comprehension skill by listening. Just as we explicitly teach our students strategies to use while they are reading, we must also teach them strategies to use while they are listening so that comprehension follows. This means creating opportunities in 6

Holiday Story. Photo courtesy of woodleywonderworks, Flickr.

our classrooms with a clear purpose for listening to help students master this skill. Providing a set of questions to use during a teacher read-aloud gives students a way to stay actively involved with the reading. These structured questions will provide the teacher with guided practice opportunities to ensure success for all learners. By being engaged in the reading, students are able to answer questions, expand their vocabulary, participate in class discussions, and engage in writing prompts related to the reading. We have included templates that you can use along with a teacher read-aloud of the Feature Story, "White Wolf," in this issue. These templates will give students that reason for listening which will ultimately increase comprehension.

TEMPLATES White Wolf Listening Comprehension Template: Grades K-1 http://onramp.nsdl.org/eserv/ onramp:16236/ K-1_Listening_Comprehension_ Template.pdf White Wolf Listening Comprehension Template: Grades 2-3 http://onramp.nsdl.org/eserv/ onramp:16236/ n2-3_Listening_Comprehension _Template.pdf White Wolf Listening Comprehension Template: Grades 4-5 http://onramp.nsdl.org/eserv/ onramp:16236/ n4-5_Listening_Comprehension _Template.pdf Listening Comprehension Literacy Set http://rs1.contentclips.com/ipy/ fwd/ipy_0901_set_lit_6025.html

Feature Story: White Wolf White Wolf By Stephen Whitt

Stories for Students (and Teachers)!

This nonfiction article is written for use with upperelementary students (grades 4-5). Modified versions are available for students in grades K-1 and grades 2-3, or any student needing a simplified version. As always, consider the reading level and needs of your students when selecting a version for classroom use. At each grade level, the article is available in three forms. Printable pdf files allow

You’re running faster than you’ve ever run before, chasing a small white shape that darts back and forth a few yards ahead. A frigid arctic wind blasts your eyes, ears, and snow-white fur, but you don’t feel the cold. For you, this is warm and lovely summer weather. You are an arctic wolf. You were born two summers ago, a rolypoly pup in a litter of four. Your mother, father, and packmates (mostly your older brothers and sisters) all took care of you that first summer. They brought you food, they protected you from danger, and they played with you. By playing with you almost every day, your packmates taught you how to pounce, how

to wrestle, and how to chase down food. Now you are an adult wolf, two years old, fast, sleek, powerful, and getting stronger every day. You’re chasing your own food across the arctic tundra. The young arctic hare, a long-legged rabbit with fur even whiter than yours, is very fast, but you are a strong runner. You can run this fast for a very, very long time. Eventually, if things go your way, the hare will tire, and you will eat. After you’ve eaten, you will head back to the den. Your younger brothers and sisters, this summer’s pups, will run up to greet you. You might feed them a little from the food you’ve stored in your own stomach. Or you might just play with them, as your older brothers and sisters played with you when you were only a pup.

you to print this story in either text-only or a foldable book format. A partnership with Content Clips has allowed us to create electronic versions of the articles. Your students can read along as they listen to the text - a wonderful way to support struggling readers! Related activities provide suggestions for integrating this story with your science and literacy instruction. Happy Arctic Wolf. Photo courtesy of Ber’Zophus, Flickr.


Feature Story: White Wolf

Top: Arctic Hare. Photo courtesy of NOAA, Wikimedia Commons. Right: Spring in the Arctic. Photo courtesy of madpai, Flickr. Bottom: Wolf-2. Photo courtesy of Lawrence in Houston, Flickr.

You will also sleep. In the long arctic summer, the Sun does not set for four months. So you sleep when you’re tired, hunt when you’re hungry, and travel with your pack whenever the leaders decide it’s time to go. You and your packmates spend much of your time sleeping in the sunlight, lying near enough


the den to be sure the pups are safe. Each year’s pups are precious; without them, your pack will soon disappear. Arctic wolves do not live long lives, perhaps only seven to ten summers.

powerful hooves. They might weigh 200 times more than you! Still, you’ll approach these giant creatures. In this cold and barren land, you must find food, even if it comes in the form of a 2,000-pound monster.

Later, you might follow the pack leaders on a group hunt. You’ll head off toward the far horizon, leaving behind the pups and one member of your pack (sometimes, but not always, the pups’ mother) to care for the pups while you are gone. You might run five miles or more, without stopping to rest, eat, or drink. All the while, you’ll scan the tundra for any signs of life.

When the hunt goes well, you and the rest of the pack will eat. There will be plenty of food to take back to the pups, and they will grow into strong and swift young wolves like yourself. When the hunting goes badly, you or one of your packmates might be injured or even killed by the oxen, and the pack will go hungry. The summer days will not last for long, and the hunger never stops; you must find food soon.

Finally, you’ll spot a herd of musk oxen. They are huge, shaggy animals with dangerous curved horns and sharp,

For winter is coming. When the Sun disappears below the

Feature Story: White Wolf

Arctic Wolf. Photo courtesy of Milestoned, Flickr.

horizon for the four long, frigid months of winter, your life will be different. Then you will struggle each day just to stay alive. You’ll find food where you can, huddle together with your packmates to stay warm, and wait for the day when the Sun finally returns. But now it is bright, lovely summer. You’re running faster than you’ve ever run before, chasing the white shape that is just a little bit nearer. GLOSSARY barren - empty, producing few plants dart - to move suddenly or quickly frigid - very cold litter - a group of baby animals born at the same time tundra - a flat, treeless plain

RELATED ACTIVITIES Arctic Wolf (Grades K-2) http:// www.enchantedlearning.com/ subjects/mammals/dog/ Arcticwolfprintout.shtml A short article and a coloring page. Arctic Wolf (Grades K-5) http://www.nature.ca/ notebooks/english/arcwolf.htm Basic information and images of arctic wolves. Wild Animal Watch: Wolves (Grades 3-5) http://teacher.scholastic.com/ wolves/tguide.htm Students explore wolves' territory, learn about their living habits, examine their family structure, and meet wolf specialists from all over the country. A Wolf's World (Grades K-5) http://www.ncstaff.net/ wolf_world/lessonplans/ index.html

Two lessons on this page are appropriate for students in the elementary grades. In "Life Within the Pack," students discuss and mimic wolf behavior. In "Disperse Tag," students simulate pack behavior by playing a game. Who's Afraid of the Big, Bad Wolf? (Grades 3-5) http://www.pbs.org/wnet/ nature/uncategorized/foreducators-who-s-afraid-of-thebig-bad-wolf/210/ Students use observation skills and primary sources to learn how wolves communicate. They write stories to dispel the idea that wolves are inherently "good" or "evil." Arctic Wolf Pack with Pups http://www.youtube.com/ watch? v=3uHyDW4Z4ho&feature=cha nnel_page A 5:29 video of a pack of three arctic wolves with five pups. Video was shot at the treeline in Northwest Territories, Canada.


Misconceptions Common Misconceptions about Mammals By Jessica Fries-Gaither Although the term “misconception” simply means an idea or explanation that differs from the accepted scientific concept, students’ misconceptions are anything but simple. Some misconceptions arise as students try to make sense of the world around them and naturally occurring phenomena. These misconceptions are developmental in nature, often change as students develop their ability to think abstractly, and do not change as a result of Left: Cuteness. Photo courtesy of jomilo75, Flickr. Middle: ORCAPEEKS. Photo courtesy of Jaime Ramos, U.S. Antarctic Program, National Science Foundation. Right: The Polar Bears at Churchill, Manitoba, Canada. Photo courtesy of James Seith Photography, Flickr.


instruction. Other misconceptions form when students construct explanations with insufficient information. Finally, misconceptions can also result from incorrect or partially correct explanations given by teachers, parents, or the media. Once formed, misconceptions can be tenacious – persisting even in the face of discrepant events or careful instruction. Research has documented that students may be able to provide the “correct” answer in science class yet still not abandon their previously formed idea. Even though targeting student misconceptions is difficult, teachers should be cognizant of their students’ beliefs before, during, and after instruction. Formative assessment can provide insight and guidance for planning lessons and meeting student needs. In this article, we discuss some common misconceptions related

to animals and mammals. We also provide tools for formative assessment and ideas for teaching the correct scientific concepts. MISCONCEPTIONS Living or Nonliving? Differentiating between living organisms and nonliving objects is difficult for students in the elementary grades and beyond. Students tend to use criteria such as movement, breath, reproduction, and death to decide whether things are alive. Students may believe that fire, clouds, and the sun are alive, while plants and some animals may be considered nonliving. Classification of Animals and Mammals Students tend to classify animals (including mammals) using criteria such as movement, number of legs, body covering, and habitat. These criteria can lead students to classify some animals incorrectly. For example,

Misconceptions MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT POLAR MAMMALS S t u d e n t s m ay thi nk ...

No mammals live in (or around) Antarctica.

Ins tead o f th in kin g. .. Although Antarctica has no terrestrial mammals, many marine mammals (whales and seals) inhabit the Southern Ocean.

Polar bears are the only mammals in the Arctic.

The Arctic is home to a wide variety of terrestrial (caribou, musk ox, lemmings, rabbits) and marine (seals, walruses, whales) mammals.

Polar bears live in the Arctic and Antarctica.

Polar bears live in the Arctic and Antarctica.

A polar bear will cover its black nose while hunting.

Scientists have never seen polar bears hide their noses.

Polar bears are left-pawed.

Polar bears seem to use their right and left paws equally.

Polar bears use tools, including blocks of ice, to hunt or kill their prey.

If a polar bear fails to catch a seal, it may kick the snow, slap the ground, or hurl chunks of ice in frustration.

The polar bear’s hollow hairs conduct ultraviolet light to its black skin, capturing energy.

The polar bear’s hair does not capture the sun’s energy.

Polar bears have a symbiotic relationship with arctic foxes. Polar bears share food and the foxes serve as “guards.”

Arctic foxes often nip at bears’ heels or drive bears off their prey. In return, a polar bear might lunge or slap at a fox.

Orca whales prey on polar bears.

Biologists have never observed this happening.


Misconceptions marine mammals such as whales are often believed to be fish. Some students might believe that only large land mammals are animals. Students also develop their ability to classify animals as they age. Students in the primary grades often form animal groups by different status (organisms that fly, organisms that live in the water) and do not use a hierarchical system of classification. In the upperelementary grades, students tend to use mutually exclusive groups based on observable features and concepts. It is not until middle school that students can use a hierarchical classification system to group animals. In some cases, the structure of science units can cause confusion and misconceptions. Research has shown that some students may believe that insects are not animals because Polar Bear. Photo courtesy of PocketAces, stock.xchng.


the organisms were introduced and studied in separate units. Teachers should be careful to relate such units (insects, birds, mammals) back to a larger discussion of animals. Specific Mammals Students may have misconceptions about specific mammals due to personal experiences or cultural myths. For example, students may believe that bats feed on blood because they have been exposed to horror movies and stories. Polar Mammals Students may also have misconceptions about the animals and mammals of the polar regions. See page 11 for a few about the species found in the polar regions, and some about the polar bear, the Arctic's most popular mammal. PROBING FOR STUDENT UNDERSTANDING What do your students think? Volumes 1, 2, and 3 of Uncovering Student Ideas in Science each contain 25 formative assessment probes to help teachers identify misconceptions. The first and third volumes of this series contain several probes that relate to animals and mammals.

Related formative assessment probes in Volume 1 of Uncovering Student Ideas in Science: • “Is It an Animal?” asks students to decide which organisms are animals. It elicits student ideas about animal characteristics and classification.” • “Is It Living?” asks students to differentiate between living and nonliving things. It elicits student ideas about criterion for classifying living and nonliving objects.” Related formative assessment probes in Volume 3 of Uncovering Student Ideas in Science: • “Does It Have a Life Cycle?” asks students to decide which organisms go through a life cycle. It elicits student ideas about life cycles.” Other assessment probes in the books deal with related concepts such as respiration, growth, heredity, cells, and functions of living things. In addition, we have followed the model used by Page Keeley and coauthors in the three volumes of Uncovering Student Ideas in Science (© 2005-2008 by NSTA Press) and created a similar probe to elicit students' ideas about mammals.

Misconceptions Is It a Mammal? http://onramp.nsdl.org/eserv/ onramp:16090/ Is_It_a_Mammal.pdf This probe, modeled (with permission from NSTA Press) after those found in Uncovering Student Ideas in Science, Volumes 1, 2, and 3, is designed to elicit student ideas about mammals. TEACHING THE SCIENCE While students in the elementary grades are not developmentally ready to use the hierarchical Linnaean classification scheme, they can study mammals and their characteristics. According to the Benchmarks for Science Literacy (AAAS 1993), students in grades K-2 focus on characteristics and adaptations of animals. They also begin to differentiate between animals in real life and how animals are portrayed in stories and animations. Animal Diversity (Grades K-2) http:// www.sciencenetlinks.com/ lessons.cfm? Grade=k-2&BenchmarkID=5&D ocID=395 This lesson exposes children to a wide range of animals and

guides them through observation of animal similarities, differences, and environmental adaptations. Modify this lesson to focus specifically on polar mammals.


Students in grades 3-5 continue to identify similarities and differences among species and sort them according to a variety of criteria and purposes. Teachers should provide many opportunities for students to sort mammals using teacher-given and student-generated criteria. Students should be asked to provide rationale for their classification schemes.

meets the

Is It a Mammal? (Grades 3-5) http://rs1.contentclips.com/ipy/ fwd/ipy_0901_act_1_81.html An interactive (Flash) version of the assessment probe. Teachers can use this as an assessment probe or as an activity to develop the concept of a mammal. An answer key is also provided.

read online or downloaded

For more lessons, please see "Science and Literacy Lessons about Mammals� on page 16.

Jan 2009 Antarctica Sail Trip069. Photo courtesy of 23am.com, Flickr.

Assessing and targeting student misconceptions about animals and mammals Life Science Content Standard for grades K-4 and 5-8 of the National Science Education Standards. The entire National Science Education Standards document can be for free from the National Academies Press web site. Science Content Standards can be found in Chapter 6, http://books.nap.edu/ openbook.php? record_id=4962&page=103.


Across the Curriculum: Why Include Art in a Mammal Unit? By Jessica Fries-Gaither Arts and crafts projects have long been a staple in the elementary classroom. Unfortunately, the shift toward high-stakes testing and the resulting curricular burden has often pushed "enrichment" such as art and music, out of the school day. Or teachers (and

administrators) may think that there is no real academic value in arts and crafts projects. However, these simple and enjoyable activities can provide important educational benefits. Art projects allow students to create nonlinguistic representations of concepts and ideas, an important part of vocabulary development. They engage students with multiple learning styles, and provide alternate forms of expression for students who struggle with written assignments. Art also

provides an opportunity for creativity and self-expression, skills that are crucial for problem solving. In addition to these benefits, a teacher can structure an art project to reinforce scientific concepts or assess student understanding. An elementary teacher conducting a unit on mammals might choose to use art activities to review body structures, coverings, coloration, or other adaptations. Or a class might create drawings or models of various animals and then sort

Right: #AA052671. Photo courtesy of Getty Images. Top Left: Wyland “Hands Across the Ocean� in Washington, D.C.. Photo courtesy of woodleywonderworks, Flickr. Lower Left: Kindergarten, in session. Photo courtesy of woodleywonderworks, Flickr.


Lessons and Activities them into groups for a whole class review of animal classification. Finally, a teacher might assess student understanding of a particular mammal by asking students to draw that animal in its habitat, taking care to include and label features that help the animal survive (fur, claws, and so forth). The drawing could be accompanied by a written or an oral explanation.


Teachers of younger students may choose to use coloring pages instead of asking for drawings. Using the most realistic images possible will promote the development of scientific understanding and help students differentiate between real animals and those depicted in stories and animations - a benchmark for grades K-2 according to the Benchmarks for Science Literacy(AAAS, 1993). Several sites that provide accurate diagrams or coloring pages of polar mammals are included in the resources below.

Meet My Mammal http:// movies.atomiclearning.com/ k12/lp_meet_mammal Students create a multimedia presentation (PowerPoint) about a mammal of interest.

Mammals and Their Habitats http://usefulwiki.com/displays/ 2008-04-30/mammals-andtheir-habitats/ A post depicting and describing a class display. Could be a culminating activity for a unit on polar mammals.

Animals in Art: Social Studies/Science Integration http://www.princetonol.com/ groups/iad/lessons/elem/PattiAnimals.htm Several examples of art lessons that focus on creating paintings of specific animals and their habitats. These lessons could be easily adapted to focus on any polar mammal.

Exploring Nature Educational Resource http://www.exploringnature.org/ db/main_index.php A natural science web site that includes information, images, and activities. The mammals section contains many polar mammals. The coloring pages section is available for members only.

Create Your Own Fuzzy Painting http:// artsmarts4kids.blogspot.com/ 2008/09/create-your-ownfuzzy-painting.html Students create “fuzzy� pictures using yarn and glue. Could

Arctic Animals http:// www.enchantedlearning.com/ coloring/arcticanimals.shtml Information about many Arctic animals and labeled coloring pages. Members have access to print-friendly pages and no ads.

Here are some ideas for mammal-related art projects. Tailor the project to a specific mammal, and modify as needed to link the project to your science instruction.

Why Polar Bears Are White http://www.educationworld.com/a_tsl/archives/00-1/ lesson0002.shtml Students learn about camouflage as they study polar bears and their habitat. This lesson could be adapted for many polar mammals, including the arctic hare and arctic wolf.

accompany a lesson about the insulating properties of fur. Classifying Animals in Art http:// artsmarts4kids.blogspot.com/ 2008/09/classifying-animals-inart.html Students group pictures of animal art. Substitute other works of art or photographs of animals as desired.


Science and Literacy: Science and Literacy Lessons About Mammals By Jessica Fries-Gaither In the elementary grades, students often study individual mammal species (polar bears) or families of related mammals (cats, dogs). According to the Benchmarks for Science Literacy (AAAS, 1993): By the end of the second grade, students should know that: • Some animals and plants are alike in the way they look and the things they do, and others are very different from one another. • Plants and animals have features that help them live in different environments. • Stories sometimes give plants and animals attributes they really do not have.

Humpback Whale Breaching in Icy Strait. Photo courtesy of Christopher DiNottia, Flickr.


By the end of the fifth grade, students should know that: • A great variety of kinds of living things can be sorted into groups in many ways using various features to decide which things belong to which group. • Features used for grouping depend on the purpose of the grouping. These benchmarks suggest that at the elementary level, teachers should focus on characteristics and adaptations of organisms and how these attributes enhance an organism's survival in a particular environment. Students should have the opportunity to group animals and mammals according to a variety of criteria. Teachers can use these sorting activities to introduce characteristic traits of mammals (as well as other classes such as birds and fish). For more information about students' ability to classify and sort animals, please see

"Common Misconceptions About Mammals," on page 10. We've highlighted lessons and activities that fall into three categories: Mammals, Diversity and Adaptations, and Polar Mammals. For each category of lessons, we've suggested a literacy integration: alphabet books, question-and-answer books, and pairing fiction and nonfiction to enhance comprehension. This month's Virtual Bookshelf and Feature Story provide additional resources for literacy integration. The science lessons in this article meet the Life Science Content Standard of the National Science Education Standards. You can read the entire National Science Education Standards online for free or register to download the free PDF. The content standards are found in Chapter 6, http:// books.nap.edu/openbook.php? record_id=4962&page=103.

Lessons and Activities MAMMALS These lessons introduce students to the mammal class, its defining traits, and representative species. What's a Mammal? (Grades K-5) http://school.discoveryeducation.com/ lessonplans/programs/whatsamammal/ Students learn about the class of mammals and how mammals differ from other animals. Students also learn about different types of mammals. This lesson plan includes discussion questions, ideas for assessment, and lesson extensions.

This lesson meets the following NCTE/IRA Standards: 1, 8, 12 Writing ABC Books to Enhance Reading Comprehension (Grades 3-5) http://readwritethink.org/lessons/ lesson_view.asp?id=392 Instead of using fiction as suggested in the lesson, use nonfiction text and science lessons to help students learn about mammals and create their own alphabet books. This lesson meets the following NCTE/IRA Standards: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 11, 12.

Mammals (Grades K-2) http:// www.lessonplanspage.com/ Arctic Fox coiled up in snow. Photo DIVERSITY AND ADAPTATIONS ScienceMammalsIntro1.htm courtesy of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, These six lessons focus on the Wikimedia Commons. Students learn the adaptations that enhance animals' characteristics of mammals and survival in their particular habitats. use pictures, books, and web sites to identify Animal Diversity (Grades K-2) mammals. http://www.sciencenetlinks.com/lessons.cfm? Mammal Oral Reports (Grades 3-5) Grade=k-2&BenchmarkID=5&DocID=395 http://www.uen.org/Lessonplan/preview.cgi? This lesson exposes children to a wide range of LPid=10320 animals and guides them through observation of Students research a mammal, create and present a animal similarities, differences, and environmental report, and self-evaluate using a rubric. adaptations. Modify this lesson to focus specifically on polar mammals. Integrate literacy skills into lessons about mammals with the following lessons: Animal Adaptations (Grades 3-5) A-Z: Learning About the Alphabet Book http://www.sciencenetlinks.com/lessons.cfm? Genre (Grades K-2) BenchmarkID=5&DocID=232 http://readwritethink.org/lessons/ In this lesson, students will participate in classroom lesson_view.asp?id=982 discussions and visit a web site to learn more Students learn about the characteristics of about animals and how well (or poorly) they've alphabet books and create their own books on adapted to satisfying their needs in their natural any topic. This lesson could be easily modified habitats. Modify this lesson to focus specifically on to focus on mammals. polar mammals.


Across the Curriculum: Lessons Rubber Blubber Gloves (Grades K-5) http://www.amnh.org/education/resources/ card_frame.php?rid=948&rurlid=905 Students model the layer of blubber that helps insulate polar mammals. Slowing the Flow (Grades 3-5) http://www.amnh.org/education/resources/ card_frame.php?rid=950&rurlid=907 Students learn about the mammalian diving reflex, which helps mammals survive in cold water. Specialized Structures & Environments (Grades 3-5) http://www.uen.org/Lessonplan/preview.cgi? LPid=2714 Students learn how organisms use their special structures for a survival advantage in a particular environment. Modify this lesson to specifically focus on polar mammals. Variations for Survival (Grades 3-5) http://www.uen.org/Lessonplan/preview.cgi? LPid=2717 Students compare two organisms and describe how the physical characteristics of each provide it with a survival advantage in the environment in which it lives. To integrate literacy skills into these lessons, try the following:

book. Students could investigate polar mammals and their adaptations. This lesson meets the following NCTE/IRA Standards: 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 11, 12. Question and Answer Books - From Genre Study to Report Writing (Grades 3-5) http://readwritethink.org/lessons/ lesson_view.asp?id=840 This lesson looks at question-and-answer books as a genre study. The lesson is a springboard to research activities that can help students learn to present information in an organized and interesting way. This lesson meets the following NCTE/IRA Standards: 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 11, 12. POLAR MAMMALS These lessons focus on mammals found within the polar regions. Arctic Animals (Grades K-3) http://www.seaworld.org/just-for-teachers/ guides/pdf/arctic-animals-k-3.pdf Arctic Animals (Grades 4-8) http://www.seaworld.org/just-forteachers/guides/pdf/arcticanimals-4-8.pdf These two teacher's guides from the Sea World Education Department include interdisciplinary lessons about the Arctic region and the animals that live there. Note: Not all animals included in this unit are mammals.

Creating Question and Answer Books through Guided Research Samka (morse-walrus). Photo courtesy (Grades K-2) of Gattou/Lucie, Flickr. http://readwritethink.org/ Seals, Sea Lions, and Walruses lessons/ (Grades K-3) lesson_view.asp?id=353 http://www.seaworld.org/just-for-teachers/ Students generate questions, gather guides/pdf/s&sl-k-3.pdf information, and create a collaborative class 18

Science & Literacy: Lessons Seals, Sea Lions, and Walruses (Grades 4-8) http://www.seaworld.org/just-for-teachers/ guides/pdf/s&sl-4-8.pdf These two teacher's guides from the Sea World Education Department include interdisciplinary lessons about the three types of pinnipeds. Whales (Grades K-3) http://www.seaworld.org/ just-for-teachers/guides/ pdf/whales-k-3.pdf

Polar Bears: Keeping Warm at the Arctic (Grades K-2) http://www.learnnc.org/lp/pages/3173 Students learn about the polar bear's body coverings and how the coverings help the bear survive in the Arctic climate. Polar Bears and Their Adaptations (Grades 3-5) http://www.learnnc.org/lp/pages/2964 Students explore how a polar bear's body adapts to survive in the harsh environment in which it lives.

Whales (Grades 4-8) Incorporate literacy into lessons about http://www.seaworld.org/ polar mammals with the following just-for-teachers/guides/ lessons: pdf/whales-4-8.pdf Animal Study: From Fiction to Facts 2009-11-10 (2). Photo courtesy of James These two teacher's Seith Photography, Flickr. (Grades K-2) guides from the Sea World http://readwritethink.org/lessons/ Education Department lesson_view.asp?id=286 include interdisciplinary lessons about whales. This lesson describes how to use selected fiction and nonfiction and careful questioning techniques Beluga Whales in the Ice (Grades K-2) to help students identify factual information about http://www.nationalgeographic.com/xpeditions/ animals. The lesson can be adapted to focus on lessons/09/gk2/migrationbeluga.html any animal of interest. This lesson asks students to think about how beluga whales survive in icy Arctic and subarctic waters and why they sometimes need to migrate.

This lesson meets the following NCTE/IRA Standards: 1, 3, 6, 7, 8.

Caribou Migration (Grades K-2) http://www.nationalgeographic.com/xpeditions/ lessons/09/gk2/migrationcaribou.html This lesson introduces students to caribou and their migratory behavior.

Blending Fiction and Nonfiction to Improve Comprehension and Writing Skills (Grades 3-5) http://readwritethink.org/lessons/ lesson_view.asp?id=262 This lesson supports the use of a text set (paired fiction and nonfiction texts on a similar topic) to increase student interest in and understanding of content area material and to develop critical writing skills.

How Do Leopard Seals Hunt? (Grades 3-5) http://www.nationalgeographic.com/xpeditions/ lessons/08/g35/seasseal.html Students learn about the hunting behaviors of animals in general and leopard seals in particular.

This lesson meets the following NCTE/IRA Standards: 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 12.


Off The Bookshelf: Mammals: Virtual Bookshelf By Julie Moran Children love to learn about animals. "Where are the animal books?" is one of the most frequently asked questions at the youth desk in the Upper Arlington, Ohio, Public Library.

When students think of polar mammals, the animal that commonly comes to mind is the polar bear. In this issue, we will explore books about mammals that haven't had their chance in the spotlight. The arctic fox, beluga whale, musk ox, and walrus are just a few of the extraordinary animals featured in this issue. We've divided this month's bookshelf into these categories: Mammals, Polar Animals, Polar

Mammals, Terrestrial Polar Mammals, Marine Polar Mammals, and Penguins and Polar Bears. As always, we focus mainly on nonfiction books to help students develop scientific vocabulary and concepts as well as practice important reading comprehension strategies. Our Feature Story, “White Wolf� (see page 7), also provides an opportunity for students to read nonfiction text while learning about a polar mammal.

Recommended Books: Mammals What is a Mammal? Lola M. Schaefer. 2001. Nonfiction book. Recommended ages: Grades K-2. This book introduces students to the defining characteristics of mammals. It is part of a series that includes books on amphibians, birds, fish, insects, and reptiles. Mammals. Adele Richardson. 2005. Nonfiction book. Recommended ages: Grades 2-3. An introduction to mammals and their characteristics. Nonfiction text features include a table of contents, boldface words, a glossary, and a matrix comparing mammals to other animal groups.


Animals Called Mammals. Bobbie Kalman. 2005. Nonfiction book. Recommended ages: Grades 3-4. A more detailed look at mammals, including subgroups such as primates, marsupials, and rodents. A combined picture glossary and index helps students define and locate key vocabulary. In Touch With Nature: Mammals. John Farndon. 2004. Nonfiction book. Recommended ages: Grade 5. An overview of mammal characteristics, information about specific mammals, fun facts, and hands-on activities.

Keeping Warm

Recommended Books: Polar Animals Though not all of the animals described in these books are mammals, many are. Teachers may ask students to classify mammals, birds, fish, and insects as they read. Icy Antarctic Waters. Wendy Pfeffer.2003. Nonfiction book. Recommended ages: Grades 3-5. Each section of this book describes an animal that survives in the cold water of the Southern Ocean.

Polar Creatures. Benita Sen. 2008. Nonfiction book. Recommended ages: Grades 4-5. Each two-page spread of this book is devoted to a single type of polar animal. Teachers and students might focus on a single animal at a time. An excellent source for individual reading and research.

Recommended Books: Polar Mammals Way Up in the Arctic. Jennifer Ward. 2007. Counting book. Recommended ages: Grades K-1. This counting book, written in rhyme, presents Arctic animals and their offspring. From a mother caribou and her little calf one to an arctic fox mom and her little cubs ten, students will enjoy the bright, bold illustrations.

Arctic Fives Arrive. Elinor J. Pinczes 1996. Picture book. Recommended ages: Grades K-1. Simple, rhyming text and captivating artwork introduce math (counting by fives), the Arctic habitat, geography, and the northern lights. Not all animals in the story are mammals; ask students to differentiate between the mammals and the other animals (owls).

Who Grows Up in the Snow? Theresa Longenecker. 2003. Nonfiction book. Recommended ages: Grades K-2. Caribou, arctic fox, walrus, and harp seals are some of the polar animals and their offspring that young learners will explore as they turn the pages of this engaging read.


Off The Bookshelf: Recommended Books: Terrestrial Polar Mammals Arctic Hares. Helen Frost. 2007. Arctic Foxes. Emily Rose Townsend. 2004. Nonfiction book. Recommended ages: Grades K-2. These basic books from the Pebble series explain what arctic hares and arctic foxes are, where they live, and what they do. The text is simple and easy for beginning readers. Lemmings. Ann O. Squire. 2007. Nonfiction book. Recommended ages: Grades 1-3. Did you know that lemmings are the smallest mammal in the Arctic? Students will learn this and other amazing facts about one of the Arctic's most mysterious animals. Scientists are still exploring the lemmings' migratory patterns. Musk Oxen. Sandra Markle. 2007. Nonfiction book. Recommended ages: Grades 3-5. In the Arctic, one kind of prey is especially well equipped to survive both the harsh environment and fierce predators. That animal is the musk ox. This book is filled with interesting facts about the magnificent animal, followed by a glossary, an index, further information, and a unique feature called "looking back." After finishing the book, readers are encouraged to flip back through the pages and look for things they might have missed the first time through. 


Home at Last: A Song of Migration. April Pulley Sayre. 1998. Outstanding Science Trade Book Award 1999. Picture book. Recommended ages: Grades preK-2. Pastel-on-black illustrations accompany brief lyrical text describing how a variety of creatures, including a butterfly, a sea turtle, a caribou herd, and an arctic tern, find their ways home. Being Caribou. Karsten Heuer. 2007. Nonfiction book. Recommended ages: Grades 4-5. This is an adaptation of an adult title by the same name. In short chapters and color photographs, Heuer recounts a venture with his wife to follow on foot a herd of female caribou on its summer trek to its Arctic birthing grounds. Reindeer. Emery and Durga Bernhard. 1994. Nonfiction book. Recommended ages: Grades K-5. Did you know that reindeer live across the Arctic region and that they are known as caribou in North America? Explore the reindeer's adaptations, habitat, migratory patterns, and relationships with humans in this illustrated book.

Keeping Warm Recommended Books: Marine Polar Mammals Beluga Whales. Mary Berendes. 1999. Nonfiction book. Recommended ages: Grades 1-3. Did you know that beluga whales are the only whales that can bend their necks? Find out more interesting facts in this book. A glossary defines words such as blubber, echolocation, rostrum, and pods. Walruses. Emilie U. Lepthien. 1996. Nonfiction book. Recommended ages: Grades 2-3. Describes the physical characteristics, habits, and habitat of Atlantic and Pacific walruses. Walrus. Tom Jackson. 2008. Nonfiction book. Recommended ages: Grades 3-5. With its large blubbery body, long tusks, and whiskered face, the walrus is a friendly looking animal. Walruses

seem to be friendly to one another too; in fact, walruses are one of the few animals that can be seen congregating by the hundreds or more all year long. Older readers will be intrigued as they read detailed information about one of the Arctic's most unique animals. Seals. Carol K. Lindeen. 2005. Nonfiction book. Recommended ages: Grades K-1. Simple text and color pictures present seals, their body parts, and their behavior. Seals and Sea Lions. Charles Rotter. 1991. Nonfiction book. Recommended ages: Grades 2-4. Compares and contrasts the physical characteristics, habitats, and behavior of seals and sea lions. While sea lions do not live in the polar regions, many species of seals are found in both Arctic and Antarctic waters.

Recommended Books: Penguins & Polar Bears Why Don't Polar Bears Have Stripes? Katherine Smith. 2004. Nonfiction book. Recommended ages: Grades 2-5. Why don't polar bears have stripes? This question and many more are answered in this book, which uses text and photography to challenge the reader's knowledge of the polar bear.

Emperor Penguins. Jill Anderson. 2007. Nonfiction book. Recommended ages: Grades K-2. In this book for early readers, students will learn some amazing facts about how emperor penguins care for their babies and make the long journey to the sea in search of food.


Abo u t U s Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears is an online professional development magazine for elementary teachers. It prepares teachers to integrate high-quality science instruction with literacy teaching. The magazine is available for free at http:// beyondpenguins.nsdl.org. Twenty thematic issues link polar science concepts to the scope and sequence of elementary science curricula. The result is a resource that includes issues devoted to day and night, seasons, plants and mammals, erosion, and other physical, earth and space, and life science concepts. Some issues are also interdisciplinary, focusing on polar explorers, the indigenous people of the Arctic, and the challenges of doing science in the polar regions. To browse the complete archive of issues, visit http:// beyondpenguins.nsdl.org/archive.php. Other project features include a companion blog (http://expertvoices.nsdl.org/polar) about polar news and research and a social networking site (http:// beyondpenguins.ning.com) for elementary teachers to communicate and collaborate with colleagues across the country and around the world. Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears is funded by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0733024 and is produced by an interdisciplinary team from Ohio State University (OSU), College of Education and Human Ecology; the Ohio Resource Center (ORC) for Mathematics, Science, and Reading; the Byrd Polar Research Center; COSI (Center for Science and Industry) Columbus; the Upper Arlington Public Library (UAPL); and the National Science Digital Library (NSDL) Core Integration team at Cornell University and University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR).

Profile for Digital Libraries @ Ohio State University

Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears: Polar Mammals  

What is a mammal? And what kinds of mammals live in the polar regions? This issue, co-produced with the American Museum of Natural History,...

Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears: Polar Mammals  

What is a mammal? And what kinds of mammals live in the polar regions? This issue, co-produced with the American Museum of Natural History,...

Profile for dlatosu

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded