Fly High With These Learning Extensions!

Anna Starecheski

We're always hoping to engage your students with a topic that they might not know much about. The plight of the California condor probably falls into that category! I certainly didn't know much about it when I started researching and writing this article for the December/January issue of Storyworks Jr. Now, I'm a tiny bit obsessed with condors. Did you know that they can live for up to 60 years? Or that they've been around in some form for thousands of years? Or that they have no natural predators? Or—okay, okay, I'll stop now. The point is: these birds are more interesting than they may seem! I hope your students feel the same way, and I hope that these extensions will keep the learning going in your classroom!


TO READ: A nonfiction book about condors

TO DO: Make a poster

This straightforward, fact-filled book by Mary R. Dunn gives kids the most interesting facts about condors, along with beautiful color photographs that show condors in all their huge, bald glory! It's perfect for your lower-level readers because of the grade level (K-2), but fascinating enough to keep all your students interested.

LEARNING TASK: Have your students pick out their favorite facts about condors and illustrate them with a poster.


TO WATCH: A short video clip about the current plight of the California condor

TO DO: A problem and solution exercise

This clip from the Oregon Zoo explains the current challenges facing the wild condor population. We recommend skipping to the 5 minute mark in order to focus on the problems and solutions of the situation. Please be aware: This video, including the section we recommend, shows some condors getting medical attention, and some dead animals being eaten by condors. Give it a watch to see if it's appropriate for your students. 

LEARNING TASK: This video mentions two problems that are plaguing the condor population today. They also mention how we can solve these problems. Have your students identify the problems and solutions and lead a class discussion about them.


TO EXPLORE: An interactive map of endangered species in the U.S.

TO DO: A research project

This awesome interactive map from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lets you click on your state to see what endangered species live there and what's being done to help them. The site isn't very kid-friendly in terms of usability, so we recommend going through it as a class. Hint: Once you click on your state, you'll see a link in the righthand column that says "See other species listed in [state name]." Click on that to get a complete list of endangered species in your state.

LEARNING TASK: Have your students work in groups to pick out a species from your state to research. Have them create a poster or Powerpoint about their chosen species, the struggles it faces, and what's being done to help it.


TO EXPLORE: A kid-friendly website about endangered species

TO DO: Make a plan

This great website has fun, interactive activities for kids, all relating to endangered species. We've linked to a "How to help" page, which supplies kids with some things they can do to help the environment. Feel free to click around: there's also a fun endangered species quiz game!

LEARNING TASK: Have your class pick one activity on the "How to help" page and pledge to do it as a class.


Did you discover any great learning extensions for this issue? Tell us about it in the comments!

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