Interrupted Migrations Unit Driving Question: How can human activities help or hinder animal migrations?

Mapping Migratory Routes Lesson Driving Question: How do migratory animals move throughout the world?

1. Introduce students to different types of animal migration.

  • Set the stage for this activity by explaining to students that there are different types of animal migration. In the Intersecting Actions activity, students learned about elk migration. Animals migrate for different reasons, across different distances, to different places. Learning about different types of migration will contribute to better game designs.
  • With students in their unit working groups, distribute a copy of the Animal Migration Vocabulary handout and scissors to each group. Have students work together in their groups to cut out the squares and match each vocabulary word to its definition.
      • Provide support to students in identifying root words and using context clues to understand the definitions.


2. Engage students in a matching activity to learn key animal migration concepts.

  • Distribute the Match the Animal to its Type of Migration handout to each student. Have students read through the directions and work together in their groups to match each animal in the second column to the migration type in the first column.
      • After students have completed the handout, review the answers as a class: (1. c; 2. f; 3. b; 4. h; 5. g; 6. e; 7. d; 8. a) and answer any lingering questions.
  • Ask students: How could human activity interfere with one of these types of migrations?

3. Guide students to brainstorm why animals migrate by connecting animals’ basic needs to migration.

  • Have students use the matching exercise from Step 2 to think about different types of migration. Ask: What are some reasons animals migrate from one place to another? [Possible answers: food, reproduction (breeding/nesting areas), climate (needs warmer or cooler climate depending on seasons)].
      • Record responses on a chart paper for students to refer back to later in the unit.
  • Debrief the activity by discussing as a class how what they have learned so far in this unit will inform their board game creation. Ask: Your unit project is to create a board game about animal migration. What have you learned so far that will help you to create your game? (Possible answers: board game base map, human impact cards)
  • Explain that the next step is for students to include migratory animals in their board game and that they will use aspects of migration discussed in this activity, such as type and motivating factors, related to the migratory animals in their game.

Informal Assessment

Match the Animal to its Type of Migration: Students apply new vocabulary to descriptions of migratory behavior.

Subjects & Disciplines

  • Conservation
  • Geography
  • Social Studies

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Identify the reasons that animals migrate.

Teaching Approach

  • Project-based learning

Teaching Methods

  • Brainstorming
  • Multimedia instruction
  • Self-directed learning

Skills Summary

This activity targets the following skills:

Connections to National Standards, Principles, and Practices

Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.2:  Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.

What You’ll Need

Materials You Provide

  • Scissors

Required Technology

  • Tech Setup: Printer

Physical Space

  • Classroom


  • Large-group instruction
  • Small-group learning

Background Information

Animal migration is defined as the process where a community of animals leaves a habitat for part of the year or part of their lives. Among creatures that migrate, the type of migration varies, depending on what the creatures need. They move to habitats that are more hospitable in terms of weather and climate, available food supply, or because they provide mating grounds. Many species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, crustaceans, and insects migrate, although not all species are migratory. Scientists use a wide range of technology to help track these migration patterns, and that data is used to learn how to support animal populations impacted by humans. Their results are often shared using the principles of regional geography, which provide a fuller ecological and social lens.

Prior Knowledge

  • None


altitudinal migration

migration path up and down elevation gradients.

animal migration

process where a community of animals leaves a habitat for part of the year or part of their lives, and moves to habitats that are more hospitable.


all weather conditions for a given location over a period of time.

irruptive migration

dramatic migration that occurs at an irregular time or location.

latitudinal migration

migration route that follows a north-south movement.


movement of a group of people or animals from one place to another.


the act, process, or result of moving.

multi-generational migration

migration route that takes generations of a species to complete.


group of similar organisms that can reproduce with each other.

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