Title:  Gray Whale Migration

Grade Level:  7-9

Subject and California State Standards met: Environmental Studies, Geography

Overview:  Students will learn about gray whales migration from the lagoons of Baja, Mexico to the Arctic Seas while focusing on a specific issues affecting the whales today.

Purpose:  To familiarize students with the migration of the gray whales and learn about issues currently affecting whales.  This lesson can also lead to  discussions on the migration of animals in students' local area.



  1. Computer internet access for each group of students.
  2. Poster paper and pens for posters
  3. Appropriate magazines that could be cut up for collages and posters
  4. Copies of an introduction toGray Whale Migration.
  5. Copies of Issues Affecting Whales reading from www.learner.org/jnorth/ for students.
  6. Copies of Issues Affecting Whales worksheet for students

Activities and Procedures:

  1. Have a student read out loud the Introduction about Gray Whale Migration.  Use a map to trace the route of the whales (you can compare it to a map with our bicycle route).  
  2. Start a brief discussion with questions such as: Why do whales migrate?  What animal family do whales come from?  What might be some issues affecting the gray whales existence and migration today?   In what ways would these issues affect whales positively and negatively?  List their answers on the board.
  3. Explain to the students that they will have a chance to explore some of the issues that affect whales in greater detail today.  Pass out copies of the Issues Affecting Whales  reading from www.learner.org/jnorth/ .  
  4. Read the article as a class.  Then divide them into groups to further explore the four main “what ifs”.  You could include one of the topics they came up with on their own as well.  Pass out the Issues Affecting Whales worksheet and go over directions for the research and presentation activity clearly.
  5. Working as a team, students research their topic on the internet, make a poster or collage and prepare a five minute presentation.  Post their posters around the room for later reference.

Tying It Together:   Do the gray whales migration route come near our school?  What migrating animals can we see near our school?  Some examples are:  Canadian geese, caribou, monarch butterflies, or tarantulas.  What time of year do they migrate and why?  If possible go observe migrating animals.