Resources for Grades 6-8 Activity – Life on the Edge

Students model processes that can lead to species becoming rare or endangered. Then, they become advocates for rare or at-risk species of plants or animals and create “public relations campaigns” on behalf of these species.

For the complete activity and more like this, purchase the Explore Your Environment: K-8 Activity Guide at Shop.PLT.org and/or attend a professional development training in your state.

Below are some supporting resources for this activity.

STUDENT PAGES

Download the copyright-free student pages that are included with this activity:

Life on the Edge Research Questions (PDF)

RECOMMENDED READING

Expand your students’ learning and imaginations. Help students meet their reading goals, while building upon concepts learned in this activity, with the following children’s book recommendations:

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

The following tools and resources may be used to enhance the activity.

  • Seek by iNaturalist

    The Seek App uses image recognition technology to identify the plants and animals all around you. Earn badges for seeing different types of birds, amphibians, plants, and fungi and participate in monthly observation challenges.

  • Video: Jack Pine – Ugly but Interesting!

    Jack Pine—Ugly but Interesting!” This 6:00-minute video explains how the jack pine of Michigan is a fire-dependent species and also an important habitat for the Kirtland’s warbler, a small songbird recently removed from the U.S. Endangered Species List and on the road to recovery. This video is one of a series of BeLeaf It or Not! videos by Michigan State University Extension, which are geared for students.

  • Species at Risk and Forest Management

    Use this 1:09-minute video as a resource to connect species at risk to forests. Darren Sleep, Senior Director of Conservation, Science and Strategies at SFI, explains that a species at risk is a species that is either very rare on the landscape or declining and that well-managed forests provide habitat for species at risk.

  • Conservation Careers: Video Series from New York

    The video series On the Front Lines, created by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, profiles conservation professionals working in New York’s natural lands and environments. Select the playlist “On the Front Lines” to choose from 25 videos highlighting a variety of green careers including Wildlife BiologistForest Health Specialist, and Environmental Educator.

  • Migration Game

    Developed by the Smithsonian National Zoo, the Migration Game tests students on their knowledge about bird migration. Depending on their answers, students will either help or hinder Wanda the Wood Thrush get from her winter home in Costa Rica to her summer home in Maryland. Pair the online quiz with our article How Plants and Animals Prepare for Winter and its links to more resources, along with writing prompts and research project ideas, to enrich the learning of your students on the topics of migration, changing seasons, and hibernation.

  • Poster: Animals at Risk from Climate Change

    Animals at Risk from Climate Change is an educational poster developed by the Global Education Project. The poster presents a succinct overview of the fundamental impacts of greenhouse gases and features 25 animals currently at risk because of climate change. Through illustrations, symbols and brief explanatory text, learn about the biological traits and environmental conditions that cause a species to be susceptible to climate change. This 24″ x 30″ poster is available in folded, flat, and laminated formats.

  • Agents of Discovery

    Agents of Discovery gets students moving with an augmented reality, geo-triggered app. Students play the role of a top-secret Agent to help solve mysteries of science, culture, technology, and nature. Download the app and mission with WiFi or data and then use the app offline outdoors. Agents of Discovery includes missions all across North America. Find one near you to learn why bumblebees buzz, beavers build dams, and more about the natural world.

  • The Garden of Wisdom: Earth Tales From the Middle East

    This first-hand account of nature and environmental issues in the middle east is great for ages 7 and up. Written by award-winning author Michael Caduto and illustrated by Odelia Liphshiz, The Garden of Wisdom: Earth Tales From the Middle East brings together traditional stories about earth, stewardship, and protecting endangered species. Gathered from oral tradition, stories range from themes of Animal, Plants, Friendship, Stewardship, and Wisdom. The book offers sections for parents and teachers to draw connections to lessons from each story and dig deeper into the sources. ISBN: 978-0-9727518-5-8.

  • Disneynature Explore

    The free Disneynature Explore application for iPads and iPhones combines an augmented reality experience with animal behavior gameplay to encourage young students (grades PreK-3) and their families to get outside and connect with nature. In the app, 3D images of animals appear in the camera’s viewer, providing students with “wild adventures” in their own backyard. For example, students can see their surroundings through a butterfly’s eyes, follow tracks with a bear to find its cub, and crack a nut like a chimpanzee.

  • Animals at Risk from Climate Change Poster

    This poster captures the complex interaction of biological traits and environmental conditions that cause a species to be susceptible to climate change. Thoroughly documented to studies from reliable sources, including the IUCN Climate Change Specialist Group, NASA, NOAA, the US EPA, and the IPCC, the poster features 25 animals that highlight the fundamental impacts of greenhouse gases—causes, effects and risk of extinction—on all forms of life on the planet.

  • Conservation Tales: The Cerulean Warbler

    Have your students learn alongside Alyssa, a young girl who gets to see firsthand how scientific research can help protect endangered and vulnerable species. This Conservation Tales book focuses on the tale of the Cerulean Warbler, a small songbird endangered in Indiana and vulnerable in other states. The book’s author shadowed researchers at a scientific field site to create this book.

  • 12 Huia Birds

    Do you know the story of the majestic vanished huia bird? It is one of the great tragedies in New Zealand conservation history. The story of this sacred bird with the curved beak and white-tipped tail feathers is one we can all learn from as we look to care for our environment today and in the years to come. Learn more about this special bird through interactive elements on each page of this richly illustrated story.

  • Wilderness.net

    Learn about wilderness history, the values and benefits of wilderness, and threats to wilderness at this website.  This interagency repository of information about the more than 750 Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service, and National Park Service wilderness areas contains K-12 classroom resources.  At the website, you will find webquests, quizzes, and links to wilderness programs, along with blogs, legislation, agency policies, scientific literature, and research. 

  • Dead planet, Living Planet

    The report, Dead planet, Living Planet: Biodiversity and ecosystem restoration for sustainable development, was a contribution to the UN’s International Year of Biodiversity. The report documents successful case studies referencing thousands of restoration projects ranging from deserts and rainforests to rivers and coasts. The report provides recommendations on how to avoid pitfalls and minimize risks to ensure a successful restoration. It is downloadable from the website and can be read online as an interactive e-book.

  • EPA’s Save our Species

    This free coloring book will introduce you to 21 endangered and threatened plants and animals found in the United States. Print the pages and use your crayons to bring to life oceans, swamps, deserts, islands and a variety of plants and animals. If we all work together, we can continue to share the earth with these fascinating and important species and enjoy them in the wild — not only in the pages of books. Free posters also available.

  • Endangered Species Interactive Map

    The US Fish and Wildlife Service has launched a web-based interactive map with information about endangered species success in every state: stories of species making strides towards recovery, audio interviews and podcasts with biologists about on-the-ground endangered species conservation, and more.

  • WildLab Bird

    A free app that can be downloaded onto any Apple device (try iBird Lite for Android). Use WildLab Bird to learn the basics of bird identification. This application uses audio, photographs, maps, and the process of elimination to help identify over 200 bird species. Sightings can also be entered into a national bird watching database for comparison. 

  • Habitat the Game

    The Wildlife Conservation Society and Rainforest Alliance have created a free, new app designed for students 7-12. Habitat challenges students to care for virtual endangered animals while they earn points by completing real-life missions, like recycling or visiting a park zoo. 

  • Biointeractive’s Holiday Lectures on Science

    Biointeractive’s Holiday Lectures on Science series brings current research into the classroom, bridging the gap between textbook science and real life science. The Biodiversity in the Age of Humans series asks powerful questions, such as: Are we witnessing a sixth mass extinction? What factors threaten ecosystems on land and in the sea? What are researchers doing to conserve biodiversity and ecosystems around the world? What tools do we have to avoid a global catastrophe? In six half-hour lectures, three leading scientists describe the state of biodiversity on our planet and how to face the great challenges that lie ahead.