Lesson Plan

Hoofin' It! - Vertebrate Grab Game

a Dall sheep scratching it's back with its horns
A Dall sheep scratching its back
NPS / Alex Vanderstuyf

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Grade Level:
Third Grade-Sixth Grade
Subject:
Biology: Animals, Ecology, Geography, Wildlife Biology
Duration:
45 - 60 minutes
Setting:
indoors or outdoors
Keywords:
Sheep, discussion, reading aloud

Overview

The lesson plans in our 'Hoofin' It!' unit help students learn the basics of animal classification and what characteristics are common to mammals, mainly through studying Dall sheep.

Lesson two is a game teaching students about different types of vertebrates.

Objective(s)

Students will be able to define vertebrate and describe four characteristics that distinguish mammals from other vertebrates. Students will also be able to describe several characteristics of two other kinds of vertebrates.

Background

The "Hoofin' It!" unit explores the natural resource management of Dall sheep in the national parks of northwest Alaska. Students will learn about Dall sheep, where they live, how they have adapted to their environment, and how wildlife biologists study them to understand how to protect their populations within national parklands. Links to other lessons in the unit can be found at page bottom.

Dall sheep are a wild sheep that lives on steep mountain slopes across the Alaska. The sheep are an integral part of the natural ecosystem, and they are prized by subsistence and recreational hunters. In the early 1990s, the Dall sheep population in the Baird Mountains of Noatak National Preserve declined dramatically, losing half its population in two years. Wildlife managers closed the sheep hunting season for seven years to allow the population to grow again.

Why did the population drop so suddenly? What are the natural and human factors that affect the Dall sheep population? In the spring of 2000, Brad Shults, a wildlife biologist for the National Park Service, began a research project to learn more about Dall sheep population dynamics. Shults hopes to better understand sheep by studying the number of lambs that are born, how long sheep live, what are the most common causes of death, where do they go from season to season, and just how many sheep are there?

Procedure

Before You Begin
  1. Find a picture of a mammal, bird, amphibian, fish, and reptile (many of these are available in our photo galleries).
  2. Prepare the images for use in the classroom by printing the pictures and gluing them to a heavy piece of card board. Alternatively, have the students find the pictures, cut them out and paste them to a board.
  3. Label the card board on the back and/or keep a list of which vertebrate group the picture belongs to.
  4. Pass out copies of the vertebrate fact sheet to your students. Students can read the facts aloud and discuss the differences between the five vertebrate groups.

You may want to use the resources from part one of this lesson to discuss vertebrate characteristics.

Activity

Divide the students into two equal teams and have the teams line up, facing each other, on opposite sides of a big open space (i.e. field or gym). The teams should be about 50 feet apart. Have the students count off on each team and remember their numbers.

Line up the cutouts of the vertebrates that were made earlier in the center of the field between the two teams. Explain that you will read a statement from the vertebrate clues worksheet that describes one or more vertebrate groups. The students must listen carefully and try to figure out which vertebrate group or groups you are describing.

When you call out a number, the student from each team with that number must run to the center of the field and find the cutout of the that vertebrate group. Then that student must run back to his/her team before being tagged. When one team member grabs the cutout, the other team member may chase and try to tag him/her in order to score a point. Some questions have more than one answer so each team can score two points if each grabs a correct cutout.

At the end of each round, return the cutouts to center of the field.

Scoring
Grabbing the correct cutout and getting home is +2.
Grabbing the incorrect cutout and getting home is -2 .
Grabbing the correct cutout and getting tagged is + 1.
Grabbing the incorrect cutout and getting tagged is - 1
.
Extensions

A possible extension to this activity would be to have students a comparison/contrast discussion, mobile, or paper on the differences between vertebrates and invertebrates.

Suggested Assessment

Give the “Vertebrate Clues” worksheet to the students as a test. Have students respond to the key objectives given at beginning of activity: (1) define vertebrate, (2) describe four characteristics that distinguish mammals from other vertebrates, (3) describe several characteristics of two other kinds of vertebrates. Each student could make their own “vertebrate mobile” with the different groups of vertebrates and text explaining their unique characteristics.



Additional Resources

The "Hoofin' It!" unit explores the natural resource management of Dall sheep in the national parks of northwest Alaska. Students will learn about Dall sheep, where they live, how they have adapted to their environment, and how wildlife biologists study them to understand how to protect their populations within national parklands.

This unit is designed for grades K-12. Many of the lesson plans are appropriate for younger grades, although the later part of the unit are geared towards middle and high school. A class needn't do every lesson in the unit to gain insights into wildlife management - each can be approached as a stand-alone lesson on a particular biology-related topic.

Lesson 1
Hoofin' It! - What Do You Know?
(Understanding taxonomy; k - 12th grade)
Lesson 2
Hoofin' It! - Vertebrate Grab Game

(Exploring types of vertebrates; 3rd - 6th grade) 
Lesson 3
Hoofin' It! Vertebrate Mysteries

(A vertebrate matching game; 8th - 12th grade)
Lesson 4
Hoofin' It! Special Parts

(Animal adaptations; k - 12th grade)
Lesson 5
Hoofin' It! Hard to See?

(Camoflague; k - 8th grade)
Lesson 6
Hoofin' It! - Sheep Maneuvers

(A predator-prey game; k - 12th grade)
Lesson 7
Hoofin' It - Year of the Sheep

(Life cycle of a Dall sheep; 3rd - 12th grade)
Lesson 8
Hoofin' It! - Who's Got My Habitat?

(Habitat and wildlife populations; 3rd - 12th grade)
Lesson 9
Hoofin' It! - Habitat Grid

(Exploring wildlife habitat; k - 3rd grade)
Lesson 10
Hoofin' It! - Through the Seasons

(A game looking at seasonal impacts on wildlife; 2nd - 11th grade)
Lesson 11
Hoofin' It! - Population Art

(Intro to counting wildlife populations; k - 2nd grade
Lesson 12
Hoofin' It! - Population Calculation

(Graphing and analyzing sheep population data; 6th - 10th grade)
Lesson 13
Hoofin' It! - Scavenger Hunt

(A game connecting students to wildlife; k - 6th grade)
Lesson 14
Hoofin' It! - Field Sampling

(How scientists count wildlife populations; k - 12th grade)
Lesson 15
Hoofin' It! The Bean Counters: Mark-Recapture

(Learning to use the mark-recapture method for population surveys; 5th - 12th grade)