By being responsible for studying their own mystery mammal, students will become motivated to discover connections between animals and their habitats, and practice observation skills and detailed writing.
Before the Visit
- Print and cut out enough mystery mammal cards so that each student can have one.
- Pass out animal cards. Some students may get the same animal.
- Tell students to read their cards.
- Pass out the in-class worksheet (1 per student).
- Have students spend 10-15 minutes sketching what they think their mammal in its habitat would look like based on the information on their card.
- Have students write three questions they have about their mammal.
Tell students that when they go to the California Academy of Sciences, they will be able to find their mystery mammals in the African Hall dioramas and they will learn what the mammals really look like, where they live, what they eat and what eats them!
At the Academy
- Have students find their mystery mammal in African Hall.
- Instruct students to spend 10-15 minutes sketching their animal.
- Have students answer the questions on the worksheet by gathering information from the signage and from the dioramas.
- Lastly, tell students to write a new description of their mystery mammal, a detailed description that would help the next scientist better visualize the animal’s appearance.
Place your students’ drawings in a central location and discuss the diversity of mammals.
If you cannot visit the California Academy of Sciences or if your students still have unanswered questions after their visit, they can do their own research to find the answers. The resources listed below may help students in their research pursuits. The mystery mammal answer key will provide you with basic information about each mammal to help your students.