1 hr 40 mins
Dams on rivers prevent fish from migrating upstream to lay their eggs. Some dams hope to mitigate this by using fish ladders or other infrastructure.

Students identify and explain how humans can assist animal migrations. Through a jigsaw activity, group members learn about three examples of efforts to support animal migrations and reflect on the efficacy of these actions. Students then research additional ways humans can assist migratory animals and evaluate which of these actions would be most helpful to the focal species in the geographic area represented in their game board.


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

Helping Animals Migrate Lesson Driving Question: How has human activity changed the environment?

1. Introduce innovations that help salmon migrate when human developments interrupt their route.

  • Begin by activating students’ prior knowledge by discussing the following questions as a class:
      • What do you already know about salmon migration?
      • What kinds of human impacts might get in the way of salmon being able to spawn? (Possible responses: dams, pollution, fishing)
  • As a class, watch the video, Whoosh Innovations’ “Salmon Cannon” Gives Fish a Boost Over Dams. After watching the video, ask students: What are the benefits of the salmon cannon? What are the risks?
  • Then, as a class, watch the video, Salmon in the City up to at least the 1:50 minute mark. After watching the video, ask students: What are the benefits of the salmon ladder? What are the risks?
  • Throughout the class discussions, guide students to make the connection on how creativity and innovation may be needed to develop solutions to interrupted migrations.


2. Students jigsaw read resources to introduce them to three species that have benefited from human assistance.

  • Have each student complete their How Humans Assist Animal Migration handout as they read or watch their assigned resource. After completing the handout, have each student teach the other members of their group what they have learned.
  • Ask students: Which, if any of these, would be a good solution to the human impact on your game board? Why?


3. Groups research positive human actions that may support animal migration.

  • Students have already created two sets of cards for their game in previous activities: human impact cards and critter cards. In this step, students will create a third set of cards for their game—positive action cards.
  • Distribute one copy of the Positive Action Cards Research handout to each group. Read the directions for creating the cards as a class.
      • Have students work together in their groups to conduct their research, completing the table on the handout prior to creating the cards in Step 4.


4. Students create a set of positive action cards for their games.

  • As groups finish their research from Step 3, have students begin creating the positive action cards by following the instructions on the Positive Action Cards Research handout.
  • Once each group has finished creating their cards, conduct a class discussion to debrief the activity. Ask students: Which of these positive actions are most relevant to your geographic area? Why?

Informal Assessment

Positive Action Cards Research: Collect students’ Positive Action Cards Research sheets. Make sure students have accurate information for each response.

Extending the Learning

Have students come up with actions to take in their school or community to educate about and/or assist animal migration. For example, the class could seek permission to plant a butterfly garden or could spend a day picking up trash in an area that supports migratory wildlife.

2 hrs 30 mins
A group of students work together on a project with their teacher.

Students use their maps, setting descriptions, and card sets to create an original game that inspires players to care about animal migration and the protection of migratory routes.  Students then play each other’s games and share their work with the community.


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

Helping Animals Migrate Lesson Driving Question: How has human activity changed the environment?

1. Facilitate group discussions about what makes playing a game fun and educational.

  • Have students discuss in their project groups the following questions:
      • What are some of your favorite games? What makes them fun?
      • What have you learned from different games you have played?
      • The game you are creating needs to be fun, but it also needs to educate people about animal migration and inspire them to care. What can you do in your game to encourage players to learn and care about animal migration?


2. Prepare groups for the game design workshop.

  • Throughout this unit, students have already created several possible elements for their game:
      • Three sets of cards: human impact cards, critter cards, and positive action cards
      • Game Board Map with human impacts and migratory routes
      • Contextual information, including a description of the setting and migration map
  • The goal for students is to use all of these pieces and create a game that can be played by at least two people. In this activity, students design the game and write the rules.
  • Distribute a copy of the Interrupted Migrations: Game Design Guide and the Interrupted Migrations: Game Design Rubric and Checklist to each student. As a class, discuss the directions and expectations for the game design.


3. Set up and facilitate game design studio time.

  • In their project groups, have students collaborate to organize all of their previously created pieces for their board game. Then, have students complete the Interrupted Migrations: Game Design Guide handout.
  • As students finish the Interrupted Migrations: Game Design Guide, guide groups to complete the design and development of their board games.
  • As student groups finish the development of their game, have each group play their game at least once to test that it has all come together as planned.
  • After testing by playing the game, have groups make revisions based on the game play to refine games and instructions.


4. Students present their game to the class before taking part in a class-wide Animal Migrations Game Fair.

  • Have each project group introduce their game by sharing the following details:
      • The geographic area that is the setting for their game
      • The three species involved in their game
      • A general explanation of how the game is played
      • The objective of the game
  • After each team has presented, have students choose at least one game to play other than their own. Have students move to different areas of the room in order to play the game they have selected.
  • As students are playing the games, distribute a copy of the Interrupted Migrations: Game Feedback Card to each student. After students have finished playing the game, have them complete the card to provide feedback for the game designers.
  • If time allows, have students rotate to a new game to play.


5. Debrief the unit with the class.

  • As a class, have students share their game play experiences by discussing the following questions:
      • What did you like most about the game you played?
      • How did the game inspire you to care more about animal migration and protecting migratory routes?
      • What is one thing you can do to protect migratory routes in our area?


Game Design Use the Game Design Rubric and Checklist to assess this game design project.

Extending the Learning

Students can invite other people to play with them, including guardians, other students, or school staff. Additionally, students could bring their games home to play with their families.

Subjects & Disciplines

  • Conservation
  • Geography
  • Social Studies


Students will:

  • Design a game that showcases what they have learned about animal migration in their region.
  • Review classmates’ games for content and enjoyability.
  • Research how humans can assist migratory animals.
  • Explain different positive actions people can take to support animal migration by creating positive action cards.

Teaching Approach

  • Project-based learning

Teaching Methods

  • Brainstorming
  • Cooperative learning
  • Jigsaw
  • Multimedia instruction
  • Research

Skills Summary

This lesson targets the following skills:

Connections to National Standards, Principles, and Practices

Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.7: Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts. CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6.2: Interpret information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and explain how it contributes to a topic, text, or issue under study. CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.7.4: Present claims and findings, emphasizing salient points in a focused, coherent manner with pertinent descriptions, facts, details, and examples; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.  CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.7.9: Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research. Reading Standards for Informational Text 6-12: Key Ideas and Details, RI.8.2The College, Career & Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards D2.Civ.12.6-8: Assess specific rules and laws (both actual and proposed) as means of addressing public problems.  D2.Geo.1.6-8.: Construct maps to represent and explain the spatial patterns of cultural and environmental characteristics.

What You’ll Need

Required Technology

  • Internet Access: Required
  • Internet access: Required
  • Tech Setup: 1 computer per pair, Color printer, Monitor/screen, Printer, Projector, Speakers

Physical Space

  • Classroom


Students will need to have chairs and desks/tables that can be easily rearranged into small groups.

Students will need to have chairs and desks/tables that can be easily rearranged into small groups.


  • Jigsaw grouping
  • Small-group learning
  • Small-group work

Accessibility Notes

  • None

Other Notes

This activity will likely take two or more class periods. A natural break would be to use the second class period for final preparations for the Game Fair, but this can be decided as the activity unfolds in the classroom.

Background Information

People can make a positive difference in helping animals on their migratory routes. Educating people about the positive role they can play can help inspire a commitment to protecting those migratory routes.


There are ways humans can help mitigate and reverse their impact on animal migration. Public awareness has been used to build support for helping preserve migratory routes. One vehicle for sharing this kind of geographic information is through games. The use of games in social studies has shown to improve a student’s role in and understanding of the world. Learning about animal migration through a game will support a call to action for the student in sharing the future of animal migration.


This lesson is part of the Interrupted Migrations unit.

Prior Knowledge

  • None


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.


to help or support.


hallway, or connecting passage of land.


connected with one another.

migration route

path followed by birds or other animals that migrate regularly.


any area on Earth with one or more common characteristics. Regions are the basic units of geography.