Beacon Lesson Plan Library

A Hungry Cat Searches

Carole Gooden
St. Lucie County Schools

Description

Students listen to the story [Panther: Shadow of the Swamp] to learn about the variety of plant and animal life in the Everglades and how loss of habitat impacts panthers. Students will alphabetize the names of the plants and animals by initial and second letter.

Objectives

The student alphabetizes words according to initial and second letter.

The student listens for information and pleasure.

The student knows selected resources used by people for water, food, and shelter are limited and necessary for their survival.

Materials

-A copy of [Panther: Shadow of the Swamp] written by Jonathan London, illustrated by Paul Morin, 2000, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Candlewick Press
-Map of Florida
-World Map or Globe (Optional)
-Index cards each imprinted with the name of a plant or animal mentioned in the book

Preparations

1. Obtain a copy of [Panther: Shadow of the Swamp] written by Jonathan London, and illustrated by Paul Morin, to read aloud.
2. Print and copy the Swamp Animals and Plants page in the Associated File.
3. Cut out the labels and paste them on index cards.
4. Prepare a set of index cards for each group of three to four students. The cards in each set will have the following labels: Panther, Snowy Egret, Snakes, Alligator, Deer, Armadillo, White Ibis, Fireflies, Wild Hog, Kittens, Cypress, Gumbo Limbo, Strangler Fig, Slash Pine, Spanish Moss, Vines, Moonflowers, Oak, and Grass.

Procedures

1. Explain to the students that the story will introduce them to a variety of plants and animals that live in the Florida Everglades.

2. Use a map of Florida to show the students the location of the Everglades.

3. Look at the picture on the front cover of the book. What type of animal does this resemble? Can students see the similarity to a cat? Explain that the Florida Panther is similar to the western cougar or mountain lion, members of the cat family.

4. Examine the picture on the back cover of the book. This is a drawing of a swamp. How could we describe it? There is water and the roots of the plants seem to stick up out of the water. The plant life seems quite thick and dense.

5. Look at the illustrations on the inside front and back covers. There are many trees, and they seem to have water around them. This is the way a swamp looks. There are many plants living in a watery environment.

6. Explain to the students that you want them to pay attention to the illustrations to see if they can recognize any of the plants or animals pictured. Many of the plants illustrated are found all over the southern part of Florida.

7. Read the story to the class. Ask the students to guess why the panther is searching for food and why it ignores the small armadillo even though it would make a good meal.

8. At the end of the story, ask the students if they are surprised by the pantherís reason for hunting so carefully for a really good meal? Did their original guess match the real reason for the pantherís search?

9. Discuss why the panther had to search so hard to find food. The natural habitat has shrunken as man has built in the Everglades. There once were large numbers of panthers from east of the Mississippi River, but only thirty to fifty now exist in southern Florida.

10. Discuss the type of mother the panther seems to be. Explain that although the panther is a fierce predator, it is also a tender mother who is attentive and nurturing to her cubs. Count the number of cubs pictured in the story and point out that there are usually two to three cubs in a litter. They are cared for until they are about eighteen months old, by which time they are well trained and can hunt and live on their own.

11. Explain that the panther is an endangered species. Discuss what is meant by the term endangered species. Ask the students if they know of any other animals that are so classified. Refer to the manatee and alligator.

12. The students will arrange a series of index cards, each imprinted with the name of one plant or animal mentioned in the story, in alphabetical order, sorted by initial and second letter.

13. The students will work in groups of three or four to arrange the cards alphabetically by plants and animals separately, and then combine the two sets of cards to make one alphabetical listing of the plants and animals mentioned in the story.

14. The students can work competitively to see which group will accomplish the task first.

15. Circulate around the room to observe the progress of the students and to offer assistance where necessary.

Assessments

The students, working cooperatively in small groups of three to four, will alphabetize a series of eighteen index cards with the name of one animal or plant on each card, according to initial and second letter. The teacher will formatively assess by observing the students during the alphabetizing of the index cards.
Formative assessment includes the following criteria:
-Listening carefully for specific details and information.
-Following directions.
-Taking turns.
-Working with others.
-Alphabetizing words by initial and second letter.

Extensions

The following activities could be used to extend the lesson in language arts as well as science, and social studies.

1. Print the Panther Dictionary Skills pages from the Associated File.
2. Copy and distribute the dictionary skills handout to the students. Each student may be given the entire handout or just one page of it to work on.
3. Students will use a dictionary to find the meaning of the following words from the story: blinding, quiver, twitches, glides, dense, glimpse, furred, slither, periscope, bleached, sways, scurries, stump, crouches, hind, extends, pounces, furious, yowl, and uprooted.
4. Make a sentence using each word. This could be a group activity done orally after the students have shared the meanings that they found, or it could be a homework assignment.
5. Additionally, the students could practice alphabetizing the words according to initial and second letter.
6. Using a map of Florida, determine where other swamps or wetlands are located in the state. Discuss the importance of the Everglades to South Florida.
7. Use a world map or globe to point out other areas around the world where wetlands are located. Discuss the characteristics that these areas have in common. (Optional)
8. Discuss how draining these swamp areas can impact the native plant and animal life.
9. Explain that loss of habitat is an important reason why plants and animals become endangered and how this could lead to extinction of a species.
10. Explain that if care is taken, the species can recover. An example in Florida is the alligator. This species has rebounded so well that limited hunting is allowed.
11. Discuss some of the things that students could do to protect endangered species.
12. Each student then chooses one animal that is considered endangered and writes a paragraph describing it and explaining where it lives. A picture or drawing of the animal should be included. This paragraph should be published using available word processing software.
13. Use SiteMaker to publish each studentís paragraph on the Internet. (Optional)
14. Combine the paragraphs and pictures to make a class book. The students can work cooperatively to determine the title of the book and design the cover. The class book will include the following components: Cover, Title Page, and Table of Contents. (Optional)

The following suggested criteria can be used to assess the paragraphs written by the students.

Commendable
-Written in paragraph form and has at least ten sentences.
-Includes the name of the animal.
-Includes information on where the animal lives.
-Includes information on what caused the animal to be considered endangered.
-Includes information on what is being done to protect the animal.
-Includes a picture or drawing of the animal.
-Has no spelling errors.

Acceptable
-Written in paragraph form and has at least six sentences.
-Includes the name of the animal.
-Includes information on where the animal lives.
-Includes information on what caused the animal to be considered endangered.
-Includes a picture or drawing of the animal.
-Has few spelling errors.

See Teacher
-Not written in paragraph form, and/or has less than six sentences.
-Does not include the name of the animal.
-Does not include information on where the animal lives.
-No information on what caused the animal to be considered endangered.
-No illustration.
-Has many spelling errors.

Web Links

Web supplement for A Hungry Cat Searches
Florida Panther Net

Web supplement for A Hungry Cat Searches
Gander Academyís Endangered Species

Web supplement for A Hungry Cat Searches
Enchanted Learning.com Animal Printouts

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