Wolves Home

Teacher's Guide
Wild Animal Watch: Wolves
Grade Levels 3–8

*National Standards Correlations
*Lesson Planning Suggestions
*Extensions/ Assessment

Resources & Web Links

Skill Sheet - Wolf Investigation Sheet

Quick Start Guide - Hear a Wolf Howl!

Project Snapshot
This exciting Learning Adventure, "Wild Animal Watch: Wolves," focuses on habitats where wolves have been reintroduced into the wild. Students can explore the wolves' territory, learn about their living habits, examine their family structure, and meet wolf specialists from all over the country.

Students get an inside look at the life and work of wildlife specialists by reading daily journal entries that document their day-to-day study of wolf behavior.

The Learning Adventure also contains a Wolf Quiz, a Wolf Drawing Gallery, and a Wolf Writing Gallery, so students can express themselves creatively and demonstrate new understandings about wolves.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the behavior and life cycles of North American gray and red wolves in the wild.
  • Understand how wolves became endangered in the United States and the methods biologists are using to save them from extinction.
  • Synthesize sounds, pictures, and other information about wolves and generate personal impressions in written and/or visual form.
  • Read and comprehend informative texts.
  • Formulate and complete an independent research project.
  • Read outside literature or nonfiction in context with classroom studies.

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Project Components
Gray Wolves of Yellowstone — All About Gray Wolves
This component of the Learning Adventure contains several sections focusing on the reintroduction of gray wolves into the wild. Included are 5 one-page briefs outlining the habitats, social behavior, and history of gray wolves in the United States:

  • About Gray Wolves — Students learn about the changing attitudes toward wolves over the last 20 years.
  • Wolf Families — Students gain an understanding of the social structure of a wolf pack.
  • Return to Yellowstone — Students gather information about the wild wolves' capture in Canada, their transfer to Yellowstone, and their eventual release into the wild.
  • Acclimating Wolves — Students learn two different techniques used to reintroduce wolves into new habitats.
  • The Job of a Wildlife Vet — Students learn the role a wildlife vet plays in relocating and acclimating the wolves.

Additional sections include a gray wolf fact sheet, a map of Yellowstone National Park, an audio file for listening to an actual wolf howl, daily journal entries from the field, as well as numerous interviews with animal biologists, wildlife veterinarians, and other members of the Yellowstone Wolf Restoration Project.

Rescuing the Red Wolf — All About Red Wolves
This component of the Learning Adventure contains several sections that explore the tracking and capturing of red wolves and their eventual reintroduction into the wild. Included are 4 one-page descriptive briefs:

  • From Gray Wolves to Red Wolves — Students learn about the different kinds of "reintroduction."
  • The Red Wolf Recovery Program — Students learn about the initial recovery program and two sites where the reintroduction of the red wolves to the wild occurred.
  • Radio Tracking — Students learn how scientists use special radio-tracking collars to check on the wolves' activities.
  • Catching Wolves — Students explore reasons why and how scientists capture wolves.

Additional sections include a red wolf fact sheet, a map of wolf reintroduction sites, an audio file for listening to an actual red wolf howl, daily journal entries from the field, as well as numerous interviews with animal biologists, wildlife veterinarians, and other members of the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge.

Meet the Experts
Students can read a transcript of an online interview with wildlife expert Roland Smith, as well as interviews with wildlife veterinarian Dr. Mark Johnson, species coordinator Will Waddell, radio-tracking specialist Chris Lucash, and many more.

Wolf Writing Gallery
Students can read and enjoy the poems and essays about wolves that Scholastic members submitted for publication.

Wolf Drawing Gallery
Here, students can appreciate the artistic talents of other kids by viewing the wolf drawings submitted by Scholastic members and perhaps be inspired to create their own works of art dedicated to the wolves.

Wolf Quiz
Students are challenged by a short quiz that tests their comprehension of the "Wild Animal Watch: Wolves" Learning Adventure.

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National Standards Correlations
Students who participate in the "Wild Animal Watch: Wolves" Learning Adventure have the unique opportunity to focus on the fascinating world of wolves as well as the important work done by people who want to save these incredible creatures from extinction.

The "Wild Animal Watch: Wolves" Learning Adventure helps students meet the standards of the National Council of Science Teachers (NCST). The following themes from the NCST standards are an integral part of this Learning Adventure.

Regulation and Behavior

  • All organisms must be able to obtain and use resources, grow, reproduce, and maintain stable internal conditions living in a constantly changing external environment.
  • Behavior is one kind of response an organism can make to an internal or environmental stimulus. A behavioral response requires coordination and communication at many levels, including cells, organ systems, and whole organisms. Behavioral response is a set of actions determined in part by heredity and in part from experience.
  • An organism's behavior evolves through adaptation to its environment. A species moves, obtains food, reproduces, and responds to danger based on the species' evolutionary history.
Populations and Ecosystems
  • A population consists of all individuals of a species that occur together at a given place and time. All populations living together and the physical factors with which they interact compose an ecosystem.
  • Populations of organisms can be categorized by the function they serve in an ecosystem. Plants and some micro-organisms are producers — they make their own food. All animals, including humans, are consumers, which obtain food by eating other organisms. Food webs identify the relationships among producers, consumers, and decomposers in an ecosystem.
  • The number of organisms an ecosystem can support depends on the resources available and abiotic factors such as quantity of light and water, range of temperatures, and soil composition. Given adequate biotic and abiotic resources and no disease or predators, populations (including humans) increase at rapid rates. Lack of resources and other factors, such as predation and climate, limit the growth of populations in specific niches in the ecosystem.
Diversity and Adaptations of Organisms
  • Extinction of a species occurs when the environment changes and the adaptive characteristics of a species are insufficient to allow its survival. Fossils indicate that many organisms that lived long ago are extinct. Extinction of species is common; most of the species that have lived on the earth no longer exist.

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Lesson Planning Suggestions
Although the "Wild Animal Watch: Wolves" Learning Adventure can fit into whatever time frame is best for your classroom, the recommended timetable for students to fully explore the wide range of the project is five weeks. Here is a suggested project timetable.
  • Week One
    Begin the gray wolf project by having students familiarize themselves with the project's various components. Students should read through the Gray Wolf Fact Sheet and Wolf Families sections of the site. Spark interest by pointing out the Hear a Howl! feature, which allows students to listen to the haunting quality of a wolf howl. Suggest that students choose extension projects at this time. ( See Extensions/Assessment )

  • Week Two
    Now that students have become familiar with gray wolves, they can be introduced to the effort of relocating wolves back into the wild. Students can read through the Return to Yellowstone and The Job of a Wildlife Vet sections of this site. Point out to students the Map of Yellowstone National Park, which highlights a gray wolf relocation site. Encourage students to work independently on their extension projects during this time by offering them the opportunity to do Internet and library research. You may wish to direct students to the Wolf Drawing Gallery and the Wolf Writing Gallery to inspire them to do their own independent work.

  • Week Three
    Change the focus of the Learning Adventure by introducing students to experts who work in wildlife biology by reading the Meet the Yellowstone Team and the Gray Wolf Journal sections. Students can also read the online interview transcript with wildlife expert Roland Smith. This would also be a good time for students to read Smith's book Journey of the Red Wolf, or for them to choose another book from the resource list.

  • Week Four
    Students now focus on the red wolf by reading the From Gray Wolves to Red Wolves, Red Wolf Fact Sheet, Red Wolf Recovery Program, Radio Tracking, and Catching Wolves sections of the site. Students should be finishing up with their independent extension projects at this time.

  • Week Five
    By reading the Meet the Experts and Journal sections of this site, students meet the team that has worked on reintroducing red wolves to the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. As a fun way to wrap up the Learning Adventure, students can form teams and use the Wolf Quiz to create their own game show.
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Extensions for Assessment by Grade Level
A number of formal and informal opportunities to assess student learning are built into the "Wild Animal Watch: Wolves" Learning Adventure. These include oral discussions of each reading component of the project and evaluation of the student's writing. For additional skill assessment opportunities, try these teaching extensions.

Grade 3 (Art and Language Arts Connections) Students can create informative posters that compare and contrast the gray and red wolf. Encourage students to organize the information they learned about wolves in a graphic display. Students can illustrate their posters with drawings or with pictures cut out from nature magazines. Remind students to label important illustrations and to title their posters.

Grades 4–6 (Social Studies and Science Connections) Encourage students to research wildlife volunteer opportunities that exist in their community. Then they make contact through letters or e-mail with a wildlife organization. After initial contact has been made, students make a plan to volunteer to work with a wildlife organization or invite a wildlife expert to visit the class. Students may also extend the Learning Adventure by contacting the wildlife experts and get an update on the status of the wolves that have been reintroduced into the wild.

Grades 7–8 (Social Studies Connections) Students research how their community, especially rural areas, feels about wolves being reintroduced to the wild. Students should consider whether there are misconceptions within the community about the nature of wolves. If students feel it is necessary, they may wish to organize a community meeting with wildlife experts to help heighten community awareness about the true character of the wild wolf. If the community is not located near a wolf habitat, students can research wildlife that does coexist in their environment and how humans impact the native wildlife.

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Wild Animal Watch | All About Gray Wolves | All About Red Wolves | Meet the Host | Gray Journal | Red Journal | Teacher's Guide