Teachers Resource Center

Endangered Species Day: Teachers Resource Center

Missing Species Report Project

The Missing Species Report project is a socially engaged arts and science program designed to help raise awareness of 10 species of animals, plants and insects that are severely endangered. It features a downloadable curriculum (that fits into national common core standards for literacy and art as well as next generation standards) for four different age groups, along with templates for the special species reports and flyers that students can develop, and with additional resources.

Lesson Plans


Resource Materials

Classroom Suggestions


Teacher forum:

Biology, science, ecology and other instructors are encouraged to share their classroom techniques for teaching students about endangered species. In addition, please share your special resources (a book, website, etc.) and questions about endangered species education.

11 Comments on Teachers Resource Center

  1. Denise Kuehner says:

    If you write to the address below and tell them where and what you teach, and you’d like some endangered species artifacts, they will send you a box of confiscated items made from ivory, illegal pelts, etc., on long-term loan for education use. The address is

    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
    National Wildlife Property Repository
    Rocky Mountain Arsenal, Building 128
    Commerce City, Colorado 80022

    The website is http://www.fws.gov/le/national-wildlife-property-repository.html

  2. Sandra Plascensia says:

    PBL & Endangered Species

    At Lively Elementary School in Irving, Texas, we have begun working on a new style of learning called PBL (project-based learning). We started a new unit on Feb 10th (lasts 6-8 weeks) that teaches students about:

    -basic needs of plants and animals

    -animal food chains

    -dormancy, hibernation, migration

    Our students did their own research and created a habitat for an endangered species. They picked an animal to research based on the endangered species list. Once they finished their research, they made a drawing of what their habitat would like. In addition to their endangered animal, they had to include plants and animals that were a part of that habitat and of the food chain for that particular animal. Once I approved the sketch of their habitat they began working on the actual diorama habitat. We collected medium size boxes and any other materials (straws, rocks, construction paper, cotton balls, popsicle sticks, glitter, sequins, play-doh, foam pieces, cups, plates, plastic toys etc.) they had at home that could be used to make the habitat.

    Sandra Plascensia

    Second Grade Teacher

    Lively Elementary

    Irving, Texas

  3. Deb Perryman says:

    The students of Elgin High School (northwest of Chicago) and I wanted to create an event to honor Martha, the very last Passenger Pigeon that died on September 1, 1914 in the Cincinnati Zoo. Our classes want to raise National awareness of the importance of biodiversity and protecting biodiversity. Illinois Governor Quinn has accepted our proposal to proclaim 2014 “The Year of the Passenger Pigeon.” (We are working with U.S. Senator Dick Durbin’s staff to propose the same proclamation to Congress.) In addition to the proclamations, our Environmental Science classes are busy planning for a National Biodiversity Teach-In that will take place the week of September 21 through September 27th, 2014. Also, September 21th and 27th will be hands-on opportunities for people to learn about the biodiversity in their regions. We are planning for hikes, stewardship activities, and other field experiences. Our website will serve as a national clearinghouse of all of the events taking place across the country. On September 22-26th we would like to offer Webinars presented by researchers, biodiversity experts, not-for-profit organizations and governmental agencies. The intended audience would be school aged students and could be catered to whatever age group the presenter is interested in reaching. Teachers and others interested in more information and participating, can reach me at debbieperryman@u-46.org (biodiversityteachin@gmail.com). Our website is http://www.nationalbiodiversityteachin.com

    Deb Perryman
    Elgin High School
    Environmental Science Program
    Elgin, Illinois

  4. Tj says:

    This looks like a great event and I would like to participate. There are several links that lead only to error pages which has made navigation frustrating. I thought you should know.

  5. Margo Tintle says:

    Endangered Species Research Project

    The fourth graders here at Holton-Arms have been involved in an inquiry entitled”Animals on the Edge”. It started with a social studies unit on the Monteverde Cloud Forest in Costa Rica. From there, the girls read about the mystery of the golden toad-an amphibian which has mysteriously gone extinct recently. The girls had so many unanswered questions, and we began exploring the reasons why animals become endangered. This led to even more questions- and the uncovering of the complex web of threats facing the living things on our planet.

    The students got into small inquiry groups, each one focusing on an endangered animal; from the Hispid hare, to the Baikal Seal, to Gilbert’s potoroo and the Tasmanian devil, and others. They wanted to choose animals that weren’t already receiving much attention, but that would have enough information out there for research purposes.

    Each group researched a description of the animal, its habitat, and other details, and then focused on what threats are facing the animal, what conservationists are doing to help, and what changes we can make in our schools and homes in order to help as well.

    The students used print and online resources to research their species. Some groups were able to e-mail or Skype with scientists and other specialists. As part of the culmination of this inquiry, we invited a panel of experts including a climatologist from National Climate Assessment, an oceanographer from Conservation International, the director of Freshwater from the World Wildlife Fund, a specialist from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and a water conservation expert from the E.P.A. In addition, we had e-mail interviews with an invasive species expert and a veterinary epidemiologist. We also Skyped with the Senior Science Editor from National Geographic Kids. The students were able to find many answers (and more questions, as is the nature of research!) They also were empowered to take action in various ways, such as conserving water and electricity, having bake sales to send contributions to the WWF, making posters to teach others about threats facing endangered animals…the list goes on. Several of my students have also made posters for the Endangered Species Day art contest, using what they’d learned in the inquiry.

    This has been a very effective class program that we will continue to use.

    Margo Tintle
    4th Grade Teacher
    Holton-Arms Lower School
    Bethesda, Maryland

  6. Karolyn Efferson says:

    Classroom and Zoo Learning

    The sixth-grade students at St. Peter the Fisherman Catholic School have recently completed a unit of study on endangered species. They were immersed in learning and researching the plights of endangered species. The students presented posters on assigned terms and taught the class about the different classifications and programs surrounding endangered species. Students selected an endangered species to research and study. They created a power point containing photos, graphs, statistics, and information about their animal.

    On May 9, the students traveled to the Milwaukee Zoo where they attended an endangered species program. The program gave them a in-depth look into why animals are endangered or vanishing.

    “I learned that there are many reasons for endangerment like: deforestation, natural disasters, and wild life. It is not just about people hunting animals”, said student Natalie Weyers. Students also had the opportunity to hold animal-made products, elephant tusks, rhino horns and koala skins.

    The sixth-graders’ connection with the unit became real when they captured photos and videos of their animal. Sixth-grader Amy Holschbach stated: “We learned about the endangered animals and then we actually got to go see them. This whole experience was very exciting. I felt connected to this field trip.”

    Later, the students placed their photos and videos in their PowerPoints and presented them to the class.

    The field trip was educational and interesting. The students took pride in their research efforts and developed a passion toward protecting at-risk animals. The unit of study encouraged our students to think outside-of -box and they embraced this new experience with enthusiasm and excitement.

  7. Zachary House says:

    During the last several years, I have added a special endangered species section to my sixth grade science class. The first part involves Building Background Knowledge. We start by reading two chapters in our school textbook about ecosystems, biomes, environments, pollutions, deforestation, and habitat. Students then watch the two videos about endangered species and deforestation. The students are assigned two species that are on the endangered species list and are allowed to choose one of their own. They create a 20 slide, informative slide show telling the class about each species. Their goal is to inform the class about the decline of each species, create empathy for their cause, and give instruction on ways to help. They present their persuasive Power Point presentation to the class and also write a two page paper about their species. To conclude the project, this year the students interviewed (via Skype) Dr. Mark Rockwell, California State Representative of the Endangered Species Coalition, to learn about what he and the ESC does and how they could help. This teaching project has been every effective.

    Zachary House, 6th grade science teacher at Bethel Acres Elementary, Bethel Acres, Oklahoma

  8. Edith Carson says:

    Atlantic and shortnose sturgeon are fish that have been around since the age of the dinosaurs and are still with us today! They are pre-historic looking, with bony, hard scales called scutes. They spend most of their lives in the Atlantic Ocean but will migrate into our local rivers to spawn. Due to historical overfishing for their eggs (caviar) and meat, both species are now listed under the Endangered Species Act. Despite having these fascinating creatures so close to home, many people have neither seen nor heard of a sturgeon before!

    NOAA Fisheries Service has developed various lesson plans and activities about sturgeon for educators to use, and kits to go along with these activities to borrow for weeks at a time. These lesson plans cover a variety of subjects and meet the national education standards. Not only will your students still be learning about subjects like Science, Language Arts, Social Studies and Math, but they will be interested and excited about local endangered species.

    For more information, or to request a kit, please visit our website at: http://www.nero.noaa.gov/scutes

  9. Rod Shroufe says:

    I’d like to share something I do with my classes—that highlights more of a theme than a lesson. However, the overall theme actually involves repetitive lessons that can help relate the importance of various environmental issues, including endangered species conservation. It is called a "Sit -Spot" and is a core piece of instruction in many environmental schools and is utilized across many different areas of studies. With the idea in mind that "You can't save what you are not aware of," this ongoing theme or activity cultivates awareness through questioning (student and instructor/mentor) and by keeping a nature journal. During the first week of class, my students claim an area in a wooded wetland across the street from the school (this can be done anywhere but the more away from concrete the better). They must be a minimum of 30 feet away from any other student, as this activity is completed alone. Students are prepped ahead of time about being mentally and physically quiet during the "sit" time (I start with 20 minutes from the time all is still and by the end of the year the students are capable of much more time). They become observers and with a little practice make amazing discoveries. With the help of questions from the mentor, the field guides which we call "the Elders" and even the Internet, birds become specific species, even specific individuals, with behaviors and interactions with other parts of the ecosystem that students have never been aware of. With prompting from the teacher/mentor students are pushed to deeper questions and before long they are aware of the minutest seasonal changes in their local areas.

    In the first nine weeks I can transform urban/suburbanites with limited outdoor exposure into kids who are talking about the arrival of a new migratory bird, the absence of one of the pairs of Towhees that share their sit area with them or send them scrambling for the bird feather ID book to see what songbird succumbed to the coopers hawk since their last sit. They tell me when birds are sending out alarm calls and make inferences into what might be causing it. In short, a whole new world of awareness is open to them as they learn to read deeper and deeper into the world around them. These local connections immediately begin to transform their awareness at a regional and global level. A strong understanding of the power of biodiversity and its global loss becomes part of their core views of the world. We do this activity throughout the year, implement bird feeding stations to "enhance" sightings, and require both journals and storytelling about events and experiences they had in their areas. It is important that the activity never gets "overused." After a couple weeks without going to their sit areas, my students are usually asking me to assign one as soon as possible. We are able to tie their observations to all content areas of my science classes and of course it transcends the other curricula.

    Here is a link to the school that really embeds this idea into their curriculum and specifically to a resources book for teachers and mentors to utilize:

    Rod Shroufe

    Clackamas High School

    Clackamas, Oregon

  10. Mindy Passe says:

    We first got our students excited about being advocates for endangered species by reading the novel Hoot by Carl Hiasan. It’s a great novel. Afterwards, the students loved making their own websites to teach others about their endangered animal and then they connected their websites to make a conglomerate of websites that included videos and photos from the Internet as well as their own Go Animate videos <a href="http:// (www.goanimate.com)” target=”_blank”> <a href="http://(www.goanimate.com)” target=”_blank”>(www.goanimate.com) and Glogs (edu.glogster.com). A Glog, also known as a graphics blog appears like a poster but there are great ways that students/others can share content.

    Ultimately, we had a big Endangered Species Day event at which the students taught others about their animals by engaging them in fun, interactive activities. They made bookmarks and cards with their websites and offered ideas about how to help their animals.
    Mindy Passe
    Barringer Academic Center
    Charlotte, North Carolina

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