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Program Geography Awareness Week

  • 1. Build background about endangered or threatened animals.
    As a class, discuss what it means to be extinct or in danger of becoming extinct. Make sure students understand that endangered means the animal is almost extinct now, and that threatened means the animal is likely to be extinct in the near future. Ask students to provide examples of each.


    2. Have students read about endangered or threatened animals and complete the worksheet.
    Divide students into small groups. Distribute copies of the worksheet Endangered and Threatened Animals of the Americas to each group. Explain to students that the animals included on the list are only a few of the animals of the Americas that are in danger of becoming extinct. Then have students use the National Geographic Animals website to research the listed animals and complete the worksheet. Encourage students to list interesting facts about where each animal lives, what its habitat is like, what obstacles it faces, and other facts that interest them.

    3. Have students choose an animal and locate it on a large map of the Americas.
    Ask each student to choose the one animal that interests them most. Display the Americas Mega Map from the Americas MapMaker Kit. Have each student create a symbol for their animal using magazine clippings or their own drawings and the interesting facts they researched. Ask students to place their symbols on the Americas Mega Map in the area where their animals live.

    4. Have students create a persuasive argument for why people should try to save these animals.
    Have each student use their group's research to create a poster or write a persuasive essay about why people should try to save their chosen animal. Write the following questions on the board and encourage students to make sure their poster or essay answers the questions:

    • Where does this animal live?
    • Why is it endangered?
    • What can be done to save it?
    • Why should people care about this animal?
  • Subjects & Disciplines

    Learning Objectives

    Students will:

    • explain the meanings of vocabulary terms
    • explain facts about an endangered or threatened animal, its habitat, and its obstacles
    • write a persuasive argument about why people should try to save endangered or threatened animals

    Teaching Approach

    • Learning-for-use

    Teaching Methods

    • Hands-on learning
    • Reading
    • Research
    • Writing

    Skills Summary

    This activity targets the following skills:

    National Standards, Principles, and Practices

    National Geography Standards

    • Standard 1:  How to use maps and other geographic representations, geospatial technologies, and spatial thinking to understand and communicate information
    • Standard 14:  How human actions modify the physical environment
  • What You’ll Need

    Materials You Provide

    • Colored pencils
    • Magazines
    • Markers
    • Paper
    • Scissors
    • Transparent tape

    Required Technology

    • Internet Access: Required
    • Tech Setup: 1 computer per small group, Projector

    Physical Space

    • Classroom


    open space the size of the desired map


    • Large-group instruction

    Other Notes

    Before starting this activity, assemble the Americas Mega Map.

  • Background Information

    Animals can become endangered, threatened, or extinct for many reasons. The most common reasons include the loss of the animals’ natural habitat or changes in the environment due to human actions.

    Prior Knowledge

    • None

    Recommended Prior Activities

    • None


    Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    endangered species Noun

    organism threatened with extinction.

    Encyclopedic Entry: endangered species
    extinct Adjective

    no longer existing.

    habitat Noun

    environment where an organism lives throughout the year or for shorter periods of time.

    Encyclopedic Entry: habitat
    threatened species Noun

    organism that may soon become endangered.

    For Further Exploration