Kindergarten Migration

Published January 4, 2012 by Mrs. Malo

We finished our migration unit in room 11 at the end of November but I hadn’t had a chance to blog about it yet so this is catching me up.  Being my first year in Kindergarten I didn’t want to rock the boat too much so with a few exceptions I have been sticking to the themes my predecessor used.  Between Halloween and Christmas we studied the topic of migration.  I really had no idea how to approach this and wanted to do more than just talk about he Canada Goose.  I started by getting some books – I simply used Google and the Indigo-Chapters website to look for picture books on migration.  I picked a variety and placed an order.  When my order came it I took a look at one book and easily decided how I would approach this unit.

“Going home, going home,

We feel the urge to go.

It’s time for us to travel on,

It’s something we just know.

Many of us look for food,

Others find a mate.

And when the weather starts to change,

There is no time to wait.”

Going Home: The Mystery of Animal Migration, by Marianne Berkes and illustrated by Jennifer DiRubbio is a must have book for any teacher doing a unit on migration.  Beautifully written with accompanying illustrations it tells of 10 animals that all migration for a variety of reasons.  Each page has an 8 line rhyming verse introducing the animal and it’s migration patterns, accompanying a detailed illustration.  On the facing page is also a small write-up giving more detail on the animals.  At the end of the book there is a map showing where each animal migrates. more detailed information on the migrating animals, a list of places to look for more information and tips from the author on activities.  On the first day of our unit I introduced the first page of the book to my class (seen above) and picture of all the 10 animals in the book.  I told them we would be learning about the Canadian Goose and Ruby-Throated Hummingbird because they both spend their summers where we live, and that we would also be learning about 3 other animals.  The part that really got them excited is that they would be picking the 3 other animals from the other 8 in our book.  I made a chart with pictures of each of the 8 animals and each student was given two stickers.  They were to put a sticker underneath the two animals that they wanted to learn about the most.  We talked about picking what you wanted to learn about and not worrying about what your friends and classmates picked.  We had just finished a unit on Data Management in Math so they were very familiar with tallies and graphs.  I still have the graph on my wall at school and when I go back into the school I will take a picture and post it here.

The winners were: Pacific Salmon, Manatee, and Caribou.

Day #1 – Canada Goose

In our study of fall we went on a walk in the neighbourhood around the school which included a visit to a pond near the school.  Here we saw a large number of Canadian Geese.

Canada Geese are not at all an uncommon sight in our town.  We actually have an over population of Canada Geese at our main park downtown.  I decided to start with an animal that the kids would easily see everyday.  I started by reading them the page in Going Home about Canada Geese, and we learned why they fly in a V formation (to conserve energy).  Then I read them Grady the Goose which also tied in nicely to our character ed trait of the month compassion.  There were some great text-to-text connections when Grady became tired very easily when flying by himself (didn’t have others to make a V formation).  Next I introduced them to our migration maps.  Throughout our unit we made two maps that showed the migration of the animals we studied – one inside the classroom and one in the hall to share with the rest of the school.  We also posted our crafts of the different animals and a cool fact on each on our board in the hallway.

My amazing ECE student Sheena prepared a craft station that was made available to the students during activity time every day.  They could make a craft of the animal that we learned about that day if they wanted to.   We borrow the Canada Goose craft from my teacher partner.  The students sponge painted colours on the Canada Geese that Sheena had prepared (a body outline and a rectangle for the wings).  When they dried she stapled the wings on the body.

Day 2 – Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

I have hummingbird feeders outside of my house but never seem to get as many hummingbirds in the summer as my dad does.  When we are over at my parents house we often see them at the feeders on his back porch.  I have seen them many times but never thought about their migration before.  Again I started by reading the class the page in Going Home, where we learned that they migrate to lay their eggs south of the Gulf of Mexico.  The EA in my room, Alison, showed the kids a cute YouTube video of a rescued baby hummingbird.  I didn’t have any books on Hummingbirds so I also read them Tree of Birds  by Susan Meddaugh.  This is a story of a boy Harry who rescues a tropical bird when she is hurt by a car but doesn’t want to let her go to migrate south.  The story is about a fictional bird but we made connections on the importance of weather for some types of birds.  One word of caution – if reading this book aloud you may want to change some of the language.  At one point Harry screams “Stupid, Stupid Birds”, which I changed to “Silly, Silly Birds”.  For craft Sheena helped the kids make their own hummingbirds using pom-poms, toothpicks, and muffin cups as I found in a blog post by Ramblings of a Crazy Woman.   They turned out supper cute.

Day 3 – Pacific Salmon

I was surprised when the students selected the Pacific Salmon as one of the animals they wanted to learn about.  In Going Home they learned that salmon migrate up streams to lay their eggs in the same place where they were born.  As a story I read them the classic A Salmon for Simon, about a young boy named Simon who desperately wants to catch a fish.  He lives on the West Coast of Canada and the Salmon approach shore when heading for the streams where they will go to lay their eggs.  I found a very cute video on the life cycle of Pacific Salmon I showed the class.  For a craft we made fish using construction paper outlines and contact paper that can be found at any dollar store.  The students torn up small pieces of tissue paper to stick to the contact  paper making their salmon.

Day 4 – Manatee

This was probably the most surprising selection by the class and the most difficult to plan.  In Going Home we learned that Manatees migrate to find warmer water when the temperature drops.  Books on Manatees are limited but I did read them portions of Dances with Manatees by Faith McNulty.  This is a level 4 reader that has tonnes of great information on Manatees, but it it way too long to use as a read-aloud so I only ready portions of it to the entire class.  I left it in the class library for students to explore on their own.  We were doing well with the videos so I continued the trend with another Youtube video, this time showing them what manatee looks like and why it is nicknamed the ‘sea cow’.   We were at a loss for a craft but we managed to find a pattern for a paper bag puppet that we made available in the craft centre.

Day 5 – Caribou / Reindeer

This was a great cross-over, our last day of our migration unit we learned about Caribou which are also called Reindeer in different parts of the world.  This was a great segway into our Christmas unit!  From Going Home we learned that caribou migrate south into the forest for protection from the wind in the winter but in the spring migrate north to fee on the tundra.  I showed them a final video, this time of the caribou migration.  To finish off I read them Jan Brett’s The Wild Christmas Reindeer.  Our final craft was not an optional craft but instead a handprint craft for our memory books that I create for the kids to take home at the end of the school year.  Every month we make a different handprints so our November handprint was a caribou.  I found the idea at Reading Confetti and modified it slightly to exclude the red nose (wanted to make sure it was more like a caribou and less like Rudolph) and excluded the bell so that it would lay flat in our memory book.  We used scrap foam for the nose and mouth.

Our unit turned out pretty cool!

4 comments on “Kindergarten Migration

  • Love the migration maps! Where did you get the maps of the continents? Did you make them or buy them? I would love to do something similar!

    • A few years ago I taught grade 2/3 social studies and part of the curriculum was learning all the continents. I picked up a bulletin board set at a teacher supply store and the continents maps were in there. I put them in my bulletin board storage box and when I found them in the fall I thought they would be perfect. All of the migration routes were in the book “Going Home” so I just took them directly out of there. Thanks for the feedback!

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