This activity is designed to help students appreciate how unique and complex animals are by introducing them to some of the amazing characteristics and abilities that animals of all varieties possess. In Part 1, students will encounter a number of true but amazing facts illustrating the fact that animals are extraordinary beings. By challenging them to agree or disagree with another group of statements that focus on achievements and characteristics of animals, Part 2 helps students discover that animals share numerous traits and interests with us. And finally, in Part 3, students imagine they are a particular animal and write an impassioned letter to the editor about a threat to their home.
Try starting this activity by asking students what animals they consider unusual or extraordinary and what their reasons are for thinking so. Their responses may include such commonly admired animals as dolphins, whales, elephants, and dogs. Explain to students that in this activity, they will learn more about some of these animals. Then mention that they will also discover how virtually all animals are extraordinary--each in his or her own unique way--but may not be able to use their abilities or fulfill their needs. Then distribute the activity sheet.
Note that all of the statements are true ("agree"). Be sure to review each one to inform students who responded "Not Sure" and discuss statements that may have seemed improbable to some students. Use the following facts to help stimulate discussion.
There are cases of deer serving as "seeing-eye" guides for animals who have lost their sight.
Elephants have been known to hold "wakes," in which the bodies of dead elephants are viewed by others in the community.
Grooming one another and greeting by touching mouths are typical behaviors within the highly organized communities of prairie dogs.
Certain bird species have developed methods of packing mud and plants to act as "splints" for setting broken bones.
Answers will vary according to students' individual experiences and abilities. You may wish to suggest newspapers to which students can write and help individual students compose their letters.
1. Encourage each student to find five amazing or unusual facts about an animal of their choice and share them with the class. If they wish, they can make up a quiz on this animal similar to the one in Part 2 of Activity One and test their classmates' knowledge of the species with both true and false statements.
2. Assign students to write a "fan letter" to an animal who has an ability or trait that they particularly admire and to share it with the class.
3. Encourage students to draw a picture illustrating one of the amazing facts presented in the activity. Instruct them to write the fact under the picture then display their finished artwork on the bulletin board.
Go to www.sharetheworld.com to download the lesson plans. The companion video, "Share the World," can be downloaded at http://www.petatv.com/tvpopup/Prefs.asp?video=humane