K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

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  • The Frog Prince: Compare and contrast: This lesson can be used with numerous pieces of literature, films, or sound material to develop viewing and listening skills and the students' ability to compare and contrast. One of the richest sources is in the area of fairy tales and folktales. This an especially good source if you can find a modernized version in recorded form to contrast with the more traditional written form. I have used the "Frog Prince" because of this factor and because it was part of the 4th grade language arts reading unit.
  • Learning literary elements through African and African American folktales: In this eighth grade lesson, students will apply their knowledge of literary elements (plot structure and archetypal characters) to the analysis and creation of African and African American folktales. Students will work in groups to read several picture book versions of African and African American folktales. Each group then creates a plot map for a story and highlights other literary elements identified within the text. Students then compare the folktales with fairy tales from other cultures and explain what they learned about African and African American culture from reading the folktales. Finally, students work independently to write their own modern-day folktale.
  • Turtles are terrific: This lesson will engage the students in the study of turtle attributes and their habitats. The lesson will integrate science, math, language arts and computer/technology curriculums.

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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • become aware that some animals are endangered species.
  • compare and contrast the perception of wolves in children’s literature.
  • use the Internet to investigate how the red wolf became one of the first species targeted by the Endangered Species Act.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

180 minutes


Technology resources

  • Computer with internet access
  • TV/VCR


As a table group, have students (we have 4-6 per table) make a list of any books they know of that have wolves in it. Have each table group read their list.


  1. First, place a collection of books that relate to wolves on each table. The collection should have wolves portrayed in a factual way as well as make believe. We allowed approximately 20 minutes for students to read or skim the material at their table.
  2. Next, ask students to state what these books had in common (hopefully the response will be wolves). Start a list (on chart paper or white/chalk board) of ways in which wolves are portrayed in the stories they looked at. Responses could include: scary, sly, stupid, sacred, cunning, and funny (as well as many more).
  3. As a class, create a chart (chart paper or white/chalk board). The heading would be WOLVES, with three sections: Story Books, Native American Story Books, and Non-Fiction. Have students complete the chart with how wolves are portrayed in the books above. A discussion can follow with a focus on why. An interesting fact about how wolves were portrayed in England is that in the 1500’s forests were burned to destroy all traces of wolves. The last wolf in Scotland was killed in 1743 and Ireland’s wolves were destroyed by 1776. Europeans who settled in America brought with them this fear and hatred of wolves. Most of our fairy tales that have wolves as characters are originally from Great Britain.
  4. The next day, focus on the Red Wolf, the first endangered species to be successfully reintroduced. Start by reading the following (the forward by Bruce Bobbitt from, There’s Still Time: The Success of the Endangered Species Act by Mark Galan.
    When youngsters at a Los Angeles “Eco-Expo” were asked to answer the basic question: “Why save endangered species?” Gabrield replied, “Because God gave us the animals.” Travis and Gina wrote. “Because we love them.” Another child answered, “Because they are a part of our life. If we didn’t have them, it would not be a complete world.”

    Now, in my lifetime I have heard many, many political, agricultural, scientific, medical and ecological reasons for saving endangered species. They give thousands of reasons why species are useful to humans.

    None of these reasons move me like the children’s. For the children are putting in plain words a complex notion that has been lost or forgotten by many. The children’s answers express the moral and spiritual belief that there may be a higher purpose inherent in creation, demanding our respect and our stewardship, quite apart from whether a particular species is or ever will be of material use to people.

    Their answers remind us of important values. Why should we save endangered species? Let us answer this question with one voice, the voice of a child who replied: “Because we can.”

  5. After reading this Forward, have students do research on the Red Wolf. Let the students know that the way they will be assessed is through the creation of a diorama depicting the ideal environment for the red wolf. If baby wolves are included, the diorama should show the correct number born and the type of den used.
  6. As a follow-up activity, show the following video: Wolves: A Legend Returns to Yellowstone (National Geographic). A discussion can follow.


Students will be assessed through their participation in creating a class chart. They will also create a diorama to show their understanding of the ideal habitat for the red wolf to survive. The diorama will be scored by a Rubric.

Supplemental information

Examples of books:

  • Ruff the Wolf by William Briscoe
  • The Friendly Wolf by Paul and Dorothy Goble (An Indian tale where two lost children are saved by a wolf)
  • The Life Cycle of the Wolf by Paula Hogan (outlines what a wolf is, how it hunts, how it lives)
  • The Wolf’s Chicken Stew by Keiko Kasza (a wolf tries to fatten up a chicken for stew and ends up becoming a favorite visitor to the chicken and her family)
  • Baby Wolf by Beth Spanijan (Life history, social lives, and food habits of wolves)
  • Wolves (Animals of the World Series) by Evan Clarkson (provides awareness of the wolf and addresses problems with cultural myths and legends)
  • Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead-George (an eskimo’s survival is dependent on a pack of wolves)
  • We Are Wolves by Melinda Julieth
  • Brother Wolf: A Seneca Tale
  • Wolf Stories: Myths and True Life Tales from Around the World
  • Wolf Tales: Native American Children’s Stories
  • Child of the Wolf by Elizabeth Hale
  • Scruffy: A Wolf Finds it’s Place in the Pack
  • Peter and the Wolf by Michele Lemieux
  • Little Red Riding Hood by Trina Hyman
  • The Three Little Pigs by Paul Galdone
  • Wolf! by Becky Bloom
  • The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka


This lesson was inspired by research I did at the NC Zoo during a NOW Project, Inquiry and Technology Integration at the NC Zoological Park, concerning the red wolf. We tied this lesson with the Raleigh Red Wolf Ramble coordinated by the Raleigh Arts Commission. This community public art project placed over 100 fiberglass red wolves decorated by local artists throughout Raleigh. It not only brought an awareness of having art throughout the community, but it also highlighted the plight of the red wolf and the efforts to bring it back from near extinction.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • English Language Arts (2010)
      • Reading: Literature

        • Grade 4
          • 4.RL.1 Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
          • 4.RL.2 Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Science (2010)
      • Grade 4

        • 4.L.1 Understand the effects of environmental changes, adaptations and behaviors that enable animals (including humans) to survive in changing habitats. 4.L.1.1 Give examples of changes in an organism’s environment that are beneficial to it and some that...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

English Language Arts (2004)

Grade 4

  • Goal 2: The learner will apply strategies and skills to comprehend text that is read, heard, and viewed.
    • Objective 2.03: Read a variety of texts, including:
      • fiction (legends, novels, folklore, science fiction).
      • nonfiction (autobiographies, informational books, diaries, journals).
      • poetry (concrete, haiku).
      • drama (skits, plays).
    • Objective 2.04: Identify and interpret elements of fiction and nonfiction and support by referencing the text to determine the:
      • plot.
      • theme.
      • main idea and supporting details.
      • author's choice of words.
      • mood.
      • author's use of figurative language.
    • Objective 2.05: Make inferences, draw conclusions, make generalizations, and support by referencing the text.

Science (2005)

Grade 4

  • Goal 1: The learner will make observations and conduct investigations to build an understanding of animal behavior and adaptation.
    • Objective 1.01: Observe and describe how all living and nonliving things affect the life of a particular animal including:
      • Other animals.
      • Plants.
      • Weather.
      • Climate.
    • Objective 1.05: Recognize that humans can understand themselves better by learning about other animals.