Get Your Bearings – Background

Animals are always on the move, traveling from place to place to look for mates, find food, tend their young, or migrate to and from a faraway winter home. To do so, animals must have a sense of where they are and a way to navigate between destinations. Many aspects of the physical world provide important cues for animals on the go, some that we can sense and others that are outside our range of perception. What environmental cues do animals use to get their bearings, and how do people find their way?

From an early age, we begin to develop a sense of direction, an understanding of where we are inside our homes, which soon expands to school and beyond. One of the ways we orient is by forming a mental map of familiar places – a picture in Continue reading Get Your Bearings – Background

Get Your Bearings – Activities

Focus: Many aspects of the physical world provide important cues for us and other animals as we move from place to place. We’ll see how animals use the position of the sun, features of the landscape, and the Earth’s magnetic field for orientation and navigation. These features, together with compass, maps, and other tools, can help us find our way.

Objective: To begin to explore and ask questions about navigation.

Ask children to close their eyes and to point to things as you say them. You might ask them to point at the swingset, slide, sandbox, front entry to the school, etc. How do they know where things are?

Objective: To see how our mental map enables us to visualize familiar places.

Ask the children to imagine that they are standing in a familiar place. Have them close their eyes and imagine being in the doorway to their kitchen. Ask them to point to the stove, refrigerator, table, sink, microwave, place where the cereal is kept, clock, etc. Now have them imagine being in the entrance to the school. Continue reading Get Your Bearings – Activities

Get Your Bearings – Puppet Show

Characters: Benjy Bear, Delia Digger Wasp, Sally Salmon, Vinny Vireo

Props: rock, pinecone, sign saying: “Next Morning”

(rock and pinecone on or in front of stage)

Vinny Vireo  (singing) Tweedle dee, tweedle doo, tweedle dee, tweedle doo.

Benjy Bear Oh, fiddleheads!

Vireo   Sorry, Benjy. Am I singing too loud?

Bear  Hi, Vinny Vireo. No, it’s not you. I’m just tired of eating grasses and fiddleheads, but it’s too early in spring for berries to be ripe. Continue reading Get Your Bearings – Puppet Show

Get Your Bearings – Standards


The activities in this unit help children understand the basic concepts in the Disciplinary Core Ideas listed here. You can use the following list as a guide for lesson planning. These Disciplinary Core Ideas are taken from Grade Band Endpoints in A Framework for K-12 Science Education. Additionally, our activities give children opportunities to engage in many of the Science and Engineering Practices and reflect on the Crosscutting Concepts as identified in the Next Generation Science Standards. Continue reading Get Your Bearings – Standards