How Big Are Whales?
In the hallway or at the playground, help students measure the average length of selected whales:
- Pilot whale: 20 feet
- Gray whale: 40 feet
- Humpback whale: 50 feet
- Sperm whale: 55 feet
- Right whale: 55 feet
- Finback whale: 70 feet
- Blue whale: 100 feet
Compare the whale lengths to the size of the classroom, gym, lunchroom, hall, etc., or to the length of a car, truck, bus, etc.
How Do Whales Eat?
Simulate whales feeding by adding 5 cm of water to a wide shallow container. Cut short lengths of grass onto the water to represent krill and add cut circles of raw carrot to represent small fish.
Provide some students with tongs to simulate the teeth of a toothed whale and others a comb to simulate the baleen of a baleen whale. They must hold the comb in a vertical position only. Have the children pretend they are hungry whales and see how much food they can catch.
Questions to Pose:
- Would a baleen whale be very successful in catching krill?
- How successful would a toothed whale be at catching krill?
Remind the children that, in the real world, plankton, krill, and fish are not passive. Also, the baleen whale takes in a lot of water, which must be pressed out before it swallows the krill.
What Is a Whale Watch?
Invite a guest to class who has gone on a whale watch. Ask him or her to describe the experience and share pictures.
- On a map, identify the migration routes of whales.
- Have the children try to imagine what it would be like to be able only to strain food and swallow it without chewing. Ask them to describe how they think it would feel.
- Lead the class in a game of Simon Says, substituting the terms starboard for right and port for left. These may be unfamiliar words to the children but are the norm for sailors.
- Adopt a whale and donate to conservation efforts through Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) or the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).