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Feathers & Fur, Scales & Skin

Keepers of the Animals - Native American Stories and Wildlife Activities for Children

Elementary, Secondary

Description

Feathers and Fur, Scales and Skin is part of a compilation entitled Keepers of the Animals which provides an integrated approach to the concepts of wildlife ecology and environmental and stewardship issues concerning animals, habitat, and natural history. Through the use of Native North American stories and hands-on activities integrated with subject areas such as creative arts, theater, science, social studies, mathematics, students learn to understand, live with and care for the animals. 

Feathers and Fur, Scales and Skin is a collection of twelve stories from a variety of Native American traditions.  Each story provides background information about the legend, information about the animals highlighted in the story, discussion questions and a variety of hands-on activities designed to give students a clearer understanding of the natural history facts or processes described in the story. Each activity provides goals, detailed teaching instructions and a list of required materials. A section entitled Extending the Experience provides a variety of activities to reinforce and supplement the lessons of the stories and activities.

Turtle Races with Beaver introduces many of the important concepts and relationships between plants, animals and their environments. Students participate in a variety of hands-on activities such as performing a puppet show, creating a model beaver pond and playing ecological games.  

Octopus and Raven explores the seashore and its inhabitants. Students play a game of charades to imitate the anatomy and behaviour of seashore invertebrates, go on a scavenger hunt and create small models of a mussel’s filter feeding system. They review the natural history of the octopus and have fun playing octopus tag.  

How the Butterflies Came to Be examines the role and life cycle of butterflies and insects. Students make a list of all the gifts we receive from insects, create a special gift for the insects, go on an insect scavenger hunt, create models of familiar insects, make an insect instrument and play their own chorus and complete a maze simulating the hazardous migratory route of a monarch butterfly.      

Salmon Boy introduces the importance of respect for the salmon, ocean life and conservation of fish.  Students learn about the basic external anatomy of a fish by catching a fish in a net, observing it, and releasing it.  They listen to a fantasy journey and live out the life cycle of a salmon and calculate the number of potential offspring. They create a diorama of an underwater ocean scene. Students develop a connection with the sea by spending some time alone then writing a thank you note or poem to express their gratitude. 

The Woman Who Married a Frog examines amphibians and their adaptations for survival as well as pollution and environmental changes affecting amphibian’s habitats. Students listen to a puppet show to learn more about amphibian characteristics and their metamorphosis, collect and care for frog eggs to experience the developmental stages from egg, larva to frog, watch a frog’s tongue as it is feeding and create a simple motion picture, monitor and record amphibian sightings in the area and take appropriate action for protecting local populations of amphibians. 

How Poison Came Into the World and The Boy and the Rattlesnake explore different types of reptiles, conservation of reptiles and animal stereotypes and defenses. Students learn what distinguishes reptiles from other animals through a series of riddles, find and observe reptiles focusing on their defenses and warning signals, create their own reptile, participate in a fantasy journey and see the world from a rattlesnake’s point of view. Students read some traditional animal stories and rewrite one of their favourites. They learn and practice a variety of conservation measures to help protect reptiles.   

The First Flute and Manabozho and the Woodpecker explore the topics of birds focusing on flight, adaptation, survival, communication and conservation. Activities include playing a bingo game to help students learn and practice some common bird calls, matching up birds with their correct beaks, playing a matching game to identify some survival adaptations of birds, monitoring local bird populations. They create a papier-mâché woodpecker and its habitat.        

Why Coyote Has Yellow Eyes and The Dogs Who Saved Their Master examines mammals and dogs of North America. Students become familiar with local mammals, make papier-mâché masks, play a cooperative puzzle game, study the language of a pet and create a dictionary for the animal sounds. They play a game of choices to see if they are as adaptable as a coyote.  

Why Possum Has a Naked Tail looks closely at urban and suburban animals and their habitat. Students go on a walk to search for animals and their living conditions, conduct a survey of people’s attitudes towards animals, research an endangered or exotic species and get involved in a hands-on project by providing a good habitat for an urban animal.   

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Practice learning a skill through watchful observation
  • Practice teaching using the same quiet, experiential techniques to pass knowledge onto another
  • Students listen to the number of calls made by the field cricket in fifteen seconds and use a formula to calculate the approximate temperature in Fahrenheit and Celsius.
  • Acquire skills in observing and keeping field records of animal sightings.
  • Working cooperatively

Strengths

  • Excellent variety of creative, hands-on, outdoor activities.
  • Excellent background information provided as a resource for teachers.
  • Each lesson plan includes a description of the activity, goals, materials needed and detailed teaching instructions.
  • The lesson plans are easy-to-use.
  • Includes many extending the experience activities.
  • Activities include an easy to use symbols system that provides a quick reference to both the setting and the topics of that activity. 

Weaknesses

  • The resource is dated and has no website links to animal organizations' websites
  • One of the stories and its activities takes place by the sea and is not convenient for all.
  • No assessment/rubrics are provided.
  • Few opportunities for students to share what they have learned with their parents or peers.

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Themes Addressed

Ecosystems (5)

  • Appreciating the Natural World
  • Endangered Species
  • Habitat Loss
  • Interdependence
  • Wildlife Protection

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Poor/Not considered
  • Non-applicable to this resource.
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Poor/Not considered
  • Not considered in this resource.
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Poor/Not considered
  • Not considered in this resource.
Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Good
  • Appropriate action suggestions for protecting local populations of amphibians, reptiles and birds.
Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Satisfactory
  • In some of the activities, students are given an opportunity to reflect upon their attitudes and values towards animals and their habitats. Students are encouraged to get involved in action projects to ensure the survival of amphibians, reptiles and birds, endangered and domestic.
Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Satisfactory
  • The resource uses native wisdom to help young people learn to appreciate the great richness of the gifts animals give to people.
Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Very Good
Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Very Good
Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Good
  • The resource introduces its theme using a Native North American story. The book provides a map of native North America showing cultural areas and tribal locations as they appeared around 1600.
  • The resource suggests action projects students can take part in to help in the recovery of endangered species.
Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Good
  • Most of the activites in this resource encourage the students to brainstorm, question, discuss, observe, interview, research, work cooperatively and reflect.
Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Very Good
  • Language Arts
  • Science
  • Mathematics
  • Art
  • Social Studies
Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Good
  • Some of the activities facilitate inquiry-based learning.
Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.

 

Differentiated Instruction Good
Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Good
Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Good
Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Satisfactory
  • Some reflection opportunities are suggested.
Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Satisfactory
Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Poor/Not considered
  • No case studies are provided.
Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Good
Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.