Squirrels are a familiar sight whether we live in a city, suburb, or rural setting. It’s fun to watch squirrels’ antics at bird feeders, their acrobatics on branches and utility wires, their furtive foraging for nuts and seeds. Because we often see them near our homes, we may forget that squirrels are wild animals and that they play an important role in the forest ecosystem. Tree squirrels are gatherers of seeds, planters of trees, and prey for predators like hawks and owls.
The Northeast is home to four species of tree squirrels, those that make their homes in tree branches. Continue reading Squirrel Tales – Background
FOCUS: Three kinds of tree squirrels – gray, red, and flying squirrels – occupy our forests, often competing for the same foods and shelters. Each kind has a special niche – particular habits and habitat preferences – which helps these squirrels live side by side. All are hoarders of food, hiding a supply for the winter, though each uses a different technique. Looking for signs of squirrel activity outside gives us a window into the lives of these busy animals.
Objective: To begin to explore and ask questions about squirrels.
Give small groups of children photographs of the three types of squirrels. Ask them to make observations about similarities and differences.
Materials: Squirrel Pictures (one set per group).
HANDS-ON SQUIRREL SETS
Objective: To examine different parts of a squirrel’s body, its tracks and sign, and consider how these relate to a squirrel’s daily life and its role in the ecosystem.
Set up three stations with items from the Squirrel Set and have children work in small groups, visiting each station and discussing the items on display with an adult. Use the Squirrel Set Questions and Squirrel Set Guide with Answers to guide the exploration. Continue reading Squirrel Tales – Activities
A Tree Party
Characters: Rocky Raccoon, Grady Gray Squirrel, Rita Red Squirrel, Floyd Flying Squirrel (two-sided).
Props: several conifer cones and one stripped cone.
Rocky Raccoon Oh boy, this is going to be fun. I love block parties. All the neighbors get together and everyone brings along some food to share.
Grady Gray Squirrel Hi, Rocky! I don’t usually see you in the daytime, especially in winter. You’re usually asleep in your den.
Raccoon I would be asleep, but my stomach woke me up. I haven’t eaten in two weeks. Tonight’s potluck supper should be a feast! Continue reading Squirrel Tales – Puppet Show
SQUIRREL TALES ALIGNMENT WITH
NEXT GENERATION SCIENCE 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 Squirrel Tales – Standards