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Whale Scale

Students draw themselves in proportion to larger and smaller creatures.

  • Grade 4
    Grade 5
    Grade 6
  • 30 to 60 minutes
  • Directions

    1. In preparation for this lesson, students will work in small groups to investigate animals, how sizes of creatures is determined by nature, habitats, etc. Student research should be organized into an electronic format so as to be easily accessible to classmates.
    2. Open a discussion focused on the relative scale of human beings to large animals such as elephants or whales. How many people, standing shoulder to shoulder, would it take to be the same length as a whale? How would knowledge of ratios and proportions assist with predicting how many average-sized humans will be needed to measure the whale or elephant?
    3. Reverse the discussion to focus on the relative scale of human beings to small animals such as cats. How many average, adult cats would it take to measure the length of the average human being? How does the knowledge of proportions assist with this prediction?
    4. Once the discussion is sufficiently exhausted and you feel students are on the right track, provide them with Crayola® Colored Pencils or Crayons and construction paper. Ask students to select an environment, such as a barnyard, rainforest, desert, sea, etc. What animals live in the selected environment? Which are larger and smaller than the average human? Draw an illustration which includes each of these animals in the environment and that of the average human being. Remind students to focus on being proportionally accurate when planning their drawings.
    5. Once drawings are complete, ask students to share their artwork, explaining what type of habitats they selected and how they used proportions to create the animals illustrated.
  • Standards

    LA: Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.

    LA: Read and comprehend literary nonfiction in the grade level text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher led) with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    LA: Interpret information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and explain how it contributes to a topic, text, or issue under study.

    LA: Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade level reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.

    LA: Conduct short research projects to answer a question, drawing on several sources and refocusing the inquiry when appropriate.

    MATH: Understand ratio concepts and use ratio reasoning to solve problems.

    SCI: Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for how environmental and genetic factors influence the growth of organisms.

    VA: Students will investigate, plan and work through materials and ideas to make works of art and design.

  • Adaptations

    Adapt this lesson to focus on the stages of development for a human being. How does the size of an average newborn compare with a five year old? With a 16 year old? With a 30 year old? With a 60 year old? Use knowledge of ratios and proportions to design student illustrations.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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