Interdisciplinary, Grade 4, Amodeo

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Date: Sat, 25 May 1996 11:50:29 -0400

Amodeo 1


A Fourth Grade Curriculum

by Karen Amodeo
Wheelock College
Ed 654
August 1992

Objective : Estimate the size and weight of whales

Activity 1: Explore life-size plastic whale
  2: Weigh objects to equal whale weight

Objective : Demonstrate how whales use baleen

Activity 1: Perform baleen feeding experiment

Objective : Examine other methods of whale behavior

Activity 1: Act out studied behaviors

Objective : Discuss methods of identifying individual whales

Activity 1: Compare and identify individual whales based on
   representative photograph

Objectives: Determine migration patterns of studied whales.
   Discuss reasons and patterns of migration

Activity 1: Draw migration pattern of particular whale
  2: Note the feeding and breeding grounds

Objective : Use information gathered on particular whale

Activity 1: Write and illustrate a whale tale
  2: Design crossword or word search puzzle

Whale Unit

The overall objective of this unit is to raise awareness of
whales in fourth grade children. This experience should
educate students about the appearance, feeding habits,
behaviors and unusual characteristics of whales. To obtain
this overall objective, the children will focus on several
skills, including reading for facts (research), writing,
measurement and graphics, and geography. Each child will
be required to research a specific whale species of his/her
choice. After gathering a significant amount of data, (which
will be outlined in a booklet of information provided by the
teacher), each child will write a tale about the whale
researched. The end result will be a book, in the genre of
realistic fiction, written and illustrated by each child. In
addition to the child's work, the teacher will be responsible
for mini-lessons and activities which will enhance the
child's research and understanding of a whale's
characteristics and behaviors.

Each child must bring to this unit at least some knowledge of
reading and writing fiction.

Length of Unit:
This unit should take between two to three weeks.

Mini-Lessons and Activities:

Day 1:
Lesson 1: Overview
In the first lesson, the teacher will address the following
* Characteristics of a mammal (e.g. warm blooded,
breathe air, have hair, give birth to live young, fed
mother's milk, have four-chambered hearts, have
seven vertebrae in their neck).
* Category of whales (e.g. toothed or baleen). Note:
Bring in chart of whales (see Appendix A).
* Overview of whale species (see Appendix A).
* Anatomy of whales (see Appendix B).
 Ask children to estimate the size and weight of
whales. Bring in life-size plastic whale for students to
explore and reach a better understanding of the actual
magnitude of whale size.


Day 2: Lesson 2: Feeding Behaviors
 The instructor will discuss feeding behaviors, illustrate
each behavior with photos, and perform an activity with the
children to demonstrate how whales use baleen. Feeding
behaviors to cover include:
*Grubbing - Scrapping the bottom of the ocean floor.
    (gray whales)
*Lunge Feeding - Lunges at food with great power.
   (humpback, finback, minke, Bryde's, sei,
    and blue whales)
*Skim Feeding - Skim the surface of the water.
   (right, bowhead, sei, and blue whales)
*Bubble Net Feeding - Circle of bubbles that surround fish. (humpback
* Bubble Cloud Feeding - Single Cloud of bubbles . (humpback whales)

Fill a basin with water and sprinkle pepper in the water.
Have a group of children move their hand through the water
with their fingers extended and separated. Examine the
amount of pepper accumulated on their hand. Then, using a
fine toothed comb, perform the experiment again,
comparing the amount of pepper accumulated on the comb
with that accumulated on their fingers.

Repeat the experiment using less pepper. Explain that
whales must feed in areas densely populated with Krill.
Call attention to the relative size of the pepper to the child
and what the child usually eats. Then compare the
relationship between the size of the whale and that of the

Day 3: Lesson 3: Other Behaviors
The following behaviors should be discussed:
*Spyhopping - The whale lifts its head out of the
water and looks around.
*Lobtailing - The whale lifts its tail out of the water
and slaps it down with force.
*Logging - The whale lies still on the surface of the
water and rests,
Discuss sleeping habits of whales (whales rest half
their brain at a time, and close one eye).
*Breaching - The whale lifts part or all of its body
out of the water and splashes down.
*Flipper Slapping - The whale lifts its flipper out of
the water and slaps it down.

Have children act out each behavior.

Day 4: Lesson 4: Whale Identification
Discuss methods of identifying individual whales:
*Right Whales are identified by shape of their callosities.
*Fin Whales are identified by the asymmetrical
coloring of chevron on the head.
*Killer Whales are identified by the white saddle
patch behind the dorsal finl fin.
*Humpbacks are identified by the coloring of their
Discuss coloring of flukes (type 1-5) and fluke regions (1-14).

Obtain photographs of humpback flukes and have groups of
children compare and identify each whale using, Humpback
Whales: A Catalogue of Individuals Identified In The Western
North Atlantic Ocean By Means of Fluke Photographs, Second
Edition. College of the Atlantic, Bar Harbor, ME July

Day 5:No Lesson: Students should concentrate on gathering information
and writing.

Day 6: Lesson 5: Measuring, Weighing and Graphing
Lead a discussion on the size and weight of the whales the
students are studying. Using this information, have each
student make comparisons to other objects and graph the

Have each child choose three objects. Each object must be
weighed and measured. The child must determine how many
of each object they would need to equal the weight and length
of the whale they are studying (a calculator may be used).
After these facts are calculated, the student must create two
bar graphs. One graph will depict the weight of the whale.
Plot the weight of each object on the x-axis and the number
of each object needed to equal the weight of the whale on the
y-axis. The second graph will depict the length of the
whale. Plot the length of each object on the x-axis and the
number of each object needed to equal the length of the
whale on the y-axis. These graphs can be included in each
child's book.

Day 7: Lesson 6: Plotting Migration
Students should have already determined the migration
patterns for the whales they are studying. Lead a discussion
on the reasons and patterns of migration.

Give each student a copy of the world map and have them
draw in the migration pattern of their whale. They should
also denote the feeding and breeding grounds. This map will
become part of each child's book.

Day 8: Lesson 7: Puzzle
Each child should design their own crossword or word
search puzzle using the information they have gathered on
their whale.

Day 9, 10:Finish writing all stories and begin putting the books together.

Day 11:Have each child read their story to the class.

Day 12:Lesson 8: Whale Watch
Take class on a whale watch.

Children's Books:

Step 1:
After the instructor's first lesson, each student should be
given a booklet of instructions explaining the process of
collecting information . The teacher
should go over these instructions so that each student has a
clear understanding of what is expected of them. It is also
suggested that a library class is set up to discuss methods of
finding information. For the next week, children should be
required to search for information in the library for at
least one hour per day, for a period of one week.

Step 2:
During the second week, the students should be putting
together a realistic fiction book. They will include their
own illustrations and the graph, map and puzzle discussed
in lessons 5-7.

Step 3:
When all the books are completed, each child will present
their book to the class.

Additional Reading: The instructor may consider reading aloud, either prior
or during the whale unit, the following stories:

Humphrey the Wrong Way Whale, by Kathryn A.Goldner and Carole G. Vogel,
Dillon Press, Inc., Minnesota, 1987.

Moby Dick, by Herman Melville, adapted by Shirley Bogart, Baronet Books, New

Annotated Bibliography of Whale Research

Brown, David O. "Orca as Predator." Calypso Log, August 1988, p.10-12.
 This article offers few facts about orcas. The focus is on the team of
and photographers, instead of the whale.

Carrigar, Sally. The Twilight Seas: A Blue Whale's Journey. Weybright and
Tally: New York, 1975.
 A wonderfully written realistic fiction about a blue whale's journey
through life. The author discusses a myriad of adventures, tragedies, and
daily routines which offers insight into the life of a blue whale.

Cousteau, Jean Michel. "The Biggest Creatures on Earth." Dolphin
1989, p.8-11.
 An overview on the basic facts about blue whales. Offers wonderful
comparisons between whales and other animals and objects. Also discusses
the blue whales extinction and how we can help.

Croft, Chris. "Casualties of the Tuna Industry." Calypso Log, August,1988,
 An eye opening article about the plight of the dolphins caught in yellowfin
tuna nets. The article discusses the history and fishing methods of
yellowfins along with protection for the dolphins through consumer
awareness and The Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Dietz, Tim. Whales & Man: Adventures with the Giants of the Deep. Yankee
New Hampshire, 1987.
 A magnificiently illustrated book discussing the interactions between
whales and men. The book explores research projects for the in-depth
study of whales, expeditions designed to help whales in trouble, an
examination into the myths and misconceptions of whales and a look at
their intelligence and behavior.

Ford, John and Deborah. "Narwhal: Unicorn of the Arctic Sea." National
Geographic, March 1986, p.355-363.
 This article gives an overview of the Narwhal, including physical
appearance and sounds produced by the whale. In addition this expedition
studied the unusual mating behaviors of a group of Narwhales in Pond

Linden, Eugene. "Helping Out Putu, Siku and Kanik." Time, October 31, 1988,
 This article highlights the interaction between humans and three gray
whales caught in the ice of Point Barrow, Alaska. The method of rescue,
fate of the whales, controversy on the media's role and the decision to use
funds for this adventure are discussed.

Sattler, Helen R. Whales, the Nomads of the Sea. Lothrop, Lee &
New York, 1987.
 A research book that explores a whale's physical appearance, eating
habits, behaviors, sonar, breathing and echo-location. The social
activities of whales and their relationship with humans are also
investigated. This book can be used as a research guide for children in
fourth grade or above.

Winn, Lois and Howard. Wings in the Sea: The Humpback Whale. University
Press of New England: New Hampshire, 1985.
 An impressive publication integrating observations from the past with
present day research. Many aspects of humpback whales, including their
history, behaviors and future, are expatiated and supported.

Wursig, Bernd. "The Behavior of Baleen Whales." Scientific America, April,
1988, .102-107.
 Various theories about the social and feeding behaviors of baleen whales
are compared. It appears that many of these behaviors are similar to those
of their land dwelling relatives.
Received on Sat May 25 1996 - 11:50:40 EDT

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