Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Adopt a Manatee

Ronja Ashworth
Santa Rosa District Schools


In this writing activity, students will learn about manatees and use e-mail to contact representatives about important issues.


The student focuses on a central idea (for example, familiar person, place, object, experience).

The student writes legibly using manuscript form (for example, prints numbers and upper- and lower- case letters; uses left to right sequencing; spaces between words and sentences).

The student maintains a single idea or topic in writing.

The student uses descriptive words to convey ideas in writing.

The student uses an organizational structure in writing (including beginning, middle, and ending; using supporting details).

The student uses spelling approximations and some conventional spelling.

The student uses end punctuation and capitalizes initial words of sentences, names of people, `I`, days of the week, and months of the year.

The student uses complete sentences in writing.

The student uses basic word processing skills and basic educational software for writing (including but not limited to typing words and sentences, using software to draw and label, printing pictures and stories, locating and opening a file, saving and naming a file).


-Kit from Save the Manatee Organization (comes with adoption donation of $10)
-Computer with e-mail account
-Writing paper
-Books (Examples: [Manatee Winter] by Kathleen Zoehfeld, [Save the Manatee] by Alison Friesinger, [The Saving of the Manatee] by John Harms, [Chessie, the Meandering Manatee] by Carol Amato.)
-Chart tablet


1. To adopt your manatee(s) access the Save the Manatee Club web site at or call 1-800-432-JOIN. The cost is $10 for a school group or $12 if you wish to receive an educator’s guide. On the web site you can have you can see a list of manatees available for adoption. You may wish to have your students vote to determine which one your class will adopt. The kit will include posters, information, product order forms, newsletters, an adoption certificate, and a photograph of your manatee.
2. Gather additional materials.
3. Display Save the Manatee Club posters.
4. Go to the Write Your Representative web site at to find out who your local representative is. Write Dear (representative’s name): on the chalkboard, overhead projector, poster board, or a chart tablet.
5. Before session 3, have your computer ready and go to the Write Your Representative web site.


Session 1:
1. Assemble children in a large group. Ask them: Has anyone ever seen a dinosaur? Wait for responses. Ask: Why havenít we ever seen dinosaurs? Wait for responses and discuss. Lead children to the word extinct. Explain to them that once an animal is extinct, it will never be seen again except in photographs and museums.

2. Tell the children that there is an animal here in Florida that may become extinct if humans refuse to help. Introduce manatees by reading one or two books about manatees.

3. Discuss the word adopt. Ask the students to tell you what they think it means.

4. Tell the students that the class has adopted a manatee. Explain that this does not mean they will get to physically keep the manatee, but they will receive photographs, newsletters, and updates about their manatee. Tell them that the money they paid to adopt him/her will be used to help save manatees.

5. Ask the students what else humans could do to help manatees. Discuss and record their responses on chart paper.

6. End the session by telling the students that they will be writing a letter during the next session about things that we could do to help save the manatees.

Session 2:
1. Assemble students. Review the chart paper used in session 1 to record ideas from discussion. Tell the students that they are going to write a letter to a very important person who may be able to use their ideas to create laws to protect manatees. Show them the name of the representative you have written on the board. Tell them that this is their local representative, and this is the person to whom they will address their letters.

2. Ask the students to choose one idea that they would like to talk about in their letter. Let the students know that they will use a pencil and paper to write their letter, but tomorrow they will type it into the computer.

3. Pass out paper and pencils. Instruct students to begin writing.

4. Circulate around the room to provide assistance and keep children focused on the topic.

5. When children are finished writing, allow them to choose a proofreading partner. They can take this opportunity to check each otherís papers and provide feedback for improvement of grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc.

6. Collect papers. If time permits, you may wish to allow children to read their letters to the class or a small group.

Session 3:
This session will vary depending upon the number of computers you have available with active e-mail accounts. The following procedures assume you have only one. This session should be done with each child individually. It is best to do this while the students are involved in other activities so that you can work with just one at a time.

1. Call the first child over to the computer and have him/her bring his/her letter. Help the child enter his/her name and other necessary information. This will not take much time and is very easy to do. The student will come to a screen that has a window in which the message is to be typed.

2. Allow the student to type his/her letter. You may wish to sit beside the student to help correct errors.

3. When the child is finished typing the letter, submit it for him/her. Again, this is very simple to do. Instructions are provided in buttons on the web site.

4. Repeat the procedures for session 3 with each child. In approximately one week, each child should receive a letter of response from the representative.


Use the grading rubric from the attached file.


1. To raise money, the teacher may organize a read-a-thon. Friends and relatives pledge money and pay depending on the number of pages read by the child. This may provide enough money to adopt additional manatees. Each small group of children, possibly each child, could adopt a manatee.
2. An easier fund-raiser is to set up a penny jar in the classroom and have children drop in pennies as they have extra. It will not take long to reach the $10.00 goal.
3. This activity should be done toward the end of first grade or later.
4. Students should have some experience with letter writing.
5. This lesson could be used in a unit with the Manatee Journey lesson plan, also found on the Beacon web site.

Web Links

Web supplement for Adopt-a-Manatee
Save the Manatees

Web supplement for Adopt-a-Manatee
Government Representatives

Attached Files

A grading rubric for assessment and Microsoft Clip Art.     File Extension: pdf

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