Grades 3-5 ActivitiesUse these activities to help your class explore what makes a mammal a mammal, and discover what's normal or extreme when it comes to this incredibly diverse group of animals. These activities and the Student Worksheet can be adapted to meet your students' interests and abilities.
BEFORE YOUR VISIT
New York State Science Core CurriculumClass Discussion: Mammals live everywhere from the sea to the treetops, and have evolved to swim, glide, burrow, run, hop, climb trees, and even fly. Start a discussion by asking students what they think is "normal" for a mammal when it comes to size, shape, or behavior. What's "extreme" or unusual, and why? For information to support the discussion, refer to the Essential Questions section of the Guide.
Major Understanding LE 3.1c
In order to survive in their environment, plants and animals must adapt to that environment.
Research Activity: After your discussion, have students go on a Web Hunt: Dioramas Coming to Life. Ask students to find examples of mammals on their hunt that will help them find answers to these questions: What is a mammal? What's "normal" for mammals? and How and why are some mammals "extreme"?
DURING YOUR VISITIN THE EXTREME MAMMALS EXHIBITION
Use the activities and guiding questions in Sections 1 and 2 of Teaching in the Exhibition in this Guide to help students understand mammal fundamentals—What is a mammal? and What's "normal" for mammals?
NOTE: Students can use the worksheet linked at the top of this page, to further explore these concepts. Provide each group of students with a copy of the Map of the Exhibition to help them find locations in Extreme Mammals.
IN THE HALL OF BIODIVERSITY AND THE MILSTEIN HALL OF OCEAN LIFE (First Floor)
On your way into the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life, spend some time with your students looking at the 100-foot-long Spectrum of Life wall in the Hall of Biodiversity. How many mammals can they find among these 1,500 specimens?
Assemble your class underneath the model of the blue whale. Divide them into teams and assign each team one mammal (sea otter, northern sea lion, elephant seal, dolphin, or manatee) from the dioramas on this level. Using the back of their worksheet, have students sketch or draw their mammal, and write down three features that help it survive in its environment.
BACK IN THE CLASSROOMActivity: Create a grid on the board. In the first column, list the five marine mammals your class observed in the Hall of Ocean Life. Along the top row, list adaptations such as fur, flippers, or streamlined shape. Ask each group to list its findings in the appropriate square on the grid. Once the grid is complete, engage the class in discussing the following questions: