Stop, Look and Listen

3, 4, 5

Through exploration and observation, students will gain further insight into city wildlife and habitat in our community.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne Fifty-Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • collect data and analyze it.
  • compare and contrast how animals coexist with humans now and in the past.
  • record findings daily.
  • differentiate between various types of wildlife.
  • City Wildlife Folders
  • Pencils, colored pencils and markers
  • Lined paper
  • Plastic magnifying glasses
  • Paper detective hats
  • Student copies of handouts: Disappearing Habitat Chart, Wildlife Dangers Chart, Natural Habitats and City Habitats Chart
Home Connection 

Students bring home their “journal pages” and explore habitats around their neighborhoods with the help of their families.


  1. Hold up an object for the class to see such as a child’s beloved T-shirt or stuffed animal. The item should provide clues about the owner such as how big the person is, what he or she likes to do or eat, and how she or he feels about this object. Ask the students to be detectives and tell you what they can about the object or the person who owns this object. Tell the students that they are going to be wildlife detectives in today’s lesson.

  2. Give the students the three handouts. The students will use these pages like a journal. Playing the role of a detective, they will look for animal clues in their yards, neighborhoods, local parks and school. The students write all their observations and follow the clues like a good detective to see if they discover an “animal culprit.”

  3. Identify the common areas in the school, neighborhood and community. Brainstorm places to go and talk about why these are all part of the community. Ask the students if the animals are part of the community. Ask whether the animals and their habitats contribute to the “characteristics of place” in the community.

  4. Stress the importance of safety when encountering a wild animal. Remind the children not to approach or touch any wild animal even if it is wounded. It does not matter about the size of the creature, keep distance and get help if necessary.

  5. Observations can be written or drawn. Children may use cameras and collect things to add to their journals (nests, wild flowers or bugs). If necessary, more paper can be added to the journals as children add specimens.

  6. Teacher Note: It is illegal to collect/keep many types of bird feathers. Tell the children to record the citing of feathers as evidence of wildlife, but not to pick them up and collect them.

  7. Tell the students, “Today we are going to take a walk around our school to get you started. Don your hats and get the magnifying glasses ready detectives.” Take the students on an observation walk around the school grounds. Guide them on their first entries so they know what to do when they get home.

  8. The students add to these journal pages for a few days with the help of their families. Give your students your expectations for the number of entries they complete. Disappearing Habitat Chart is for the observation of a single site and may not be appropriate for all classes.

  9. Student groups continue to work on their presentations started in the previous lesson. Encourage them to include in their presentations some ideas for action to take to protect urban animals and their habitats.


Informal Teacher Observation: Monitor students’ behavior and safety. Check journal entries to make sure children are following directions.

Cross Curriculum 

None for this lesson.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark E.2 Discuss why some animal colonies work together.
    2. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark E.9 Identify the "commons" in the school and neighborhood.
    3. Standard PCS 04. Philanthropy and Geography
      1. Benchmark E.3 Describe the "characteristics of place" related to the school and neighborhood.
    4. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark E.7 Describe why the classroom, school, or neighborhood is a community governed by fundamental democratic principles.