Recovering and protecting endangered animals is a world-wide effort. Here in the United States many animals are disappearing from our own native land, both state and nationwide.
By working hands-on with maps, your students can become more aware of these extinct or nearly-lost animals in their own state, country and parts of the world. And for a two-fold reward, your students will be raising their awareness, at the same time learning geography!
Through mapping activities, students learn that some endangered species are specific to a certain place, and others more widely distributed.
Using maps to study US endangered animals can be done over any period of time, from a few days to the whole school year. Here are some elements that can be part of your work.
One: Define what endangered means. Present vocabulary and terms that clarify what the issues are– see some terms at the end of this post!
Two: Research, starting local. Then if you have time, expand to continents, countries and the world.
Three: Mapping! Have large blank maps ready for your students to use to record the animals they study. Large maps will allow them to draw pictured of the animals in their areas.
Links for researching endangered species
In your own state, you can locate endangered animals!
Look for ways to find out what animals are in trouble close to home. Some of these animals span larger areas than just state. Check out this link:
Endangered animals in the USA!
What are the endangered species in our own country? Sadly, the list is long and includes mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, fish and crustaceans. See full lists here:
Mapping specific endangered animals
It is an informative classroom activity to study a list of American endangered species, starting with your state. Start by researching what species (and plants!) might be endangered in your specific state. Then you can move on to regions of the United States and the country as a whole. You can also have students draw in endangered animals on a larger USA map.
Have students add others to your state, like these other endangered species:
Cui-ui fish Nevada
Beach vole, Massachusetts
Shortnose Cisco, Lake Superior, Michigan
Mapping endangered species worldwide
Here are some examples! Students can locate endangered animals on a World map.
Leatherback Sea Turtle, Pacific Ocean, and the Spotted Kiwi, New Zealand
Here is a detail that shows one of the ways students can use a World map. Click on image to see larger.
Here are some vocabulary words that are related to the topic of endangered animals. Make sure your students know and understand these important terms:
biodiversity extinct in the wild
Terms related to animal behavior:
carnivore herbivore adaptation
predator common species
omnivore food chain
Issues than can cause endangerment:
global warming reforestation
poaching over-hunted overfished
Words related to the efforts being made to deal with endangered animals:
environmentalist conservation effort