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Classroom Resources > Lesson Plans > 3-5 > Endangered Animal Species in the United States--Grades 3-5
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Endangered Animal Species in the United States--Grades 3-5


Students may already be studying endangered animal species in school. This lesson asks them to list the endangered species and human land uses for several states they've located on a map and to conduct further research to find out how land use might be affecting the species.

Time Frame: 4 class periods

Objectives and Standards

Students will:

  • Label nine or ten states on an outline map.
  • List endangered species and land uses for each state in captions around their outline maps.
  • Research and report on one endangered species in one of the states.

National Social Studies Standards:

  • 3: People, Places, and Environments: Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of people, places, and environments.

National Geography Standards:

  • 1: How to use maps and other geographic representations, tools, and technologies to acquire, process, and report information from a spatial perspective.
  • 4: The physical and human characteristics of places.
  • 8: The characteristics and spatial distribution of ecosystems on Earth's surface.
  • 14: How human actions modify the physical environment.
  • 18: How to apply geography to interpret the present and plan for the future.

Maps and Materials Needed

Materials Needed:

  • large pieces of white construction paper or poster paper (one for each student)
  • rulers (one for each student or pair of students)

Additional Map Resources Used:


Have students conduct further investigations on the endangered species that live within 100 miles of their home. Have them map the original and current range of these species and find out about things that are being done to protect them. If possible, organize a field trip to a nearby nature preserve so students can learn more about the species' habitats.


  1. Ask students if they know of any endangered animal species in the United States or other parts of the world. Tell them that in the United States, the Endangered Species List lists animals (and plants) whose habitats are threatened and/or whose populations have decreased noticeably. Animals on the list are protected, meaning that people have to make sure their activities don't harm the animals' habitats or livelihoods. Tell students that they'll be mapping some endangered species and finding out more about threats to the species' habitats.
  2. Give each student a United States outline map and a large piece of white construction paper.
  3. Have students glue or tape their maps to the larger piece of paper so that the paper forms a border around the map.
  4. Have students locate and label the following states on their outline maps: their own state, California, Arizona, Montana, Texas, Minnesota, Florida, New York, Alaska, and Hawaii. They can refer to the United States Reference Atlas or another map for assistance. Remind them that to save space, Alaska and Hawaii aren't drawn in the correct places on the outline map, and show them a map with these two states located in their actual positions.
  5. Ask students to use rulers to draw two small boxes, about 2 or 3 square inches, on the border near each state. Have them draw two straight lines from each state to its corresponding boxes. The boxes will contain captions listing the states' endangered species and land uses.
  6. Divide the class into small groups of three or four students each, and have groups find the names of three to five endangered species from each of the states they've labeled. They can find this information at the clickable map. In one of the boxes for each state, have them write "Endangered Species" and then list the species. Students can work in groups to find the endangered species, but they will each have their own maps and lists.
  7. Pass around the Land Use maps for each of the states so that each group has a chance to look at every map. In the second boxes for each state, have students write "Land Uses" and list the land uses they see on the state maps.
  8. Keep students in their groups, and assign each group one of the states they've mapped. Have them choose one of the endangered species from that state and conduct further research on that species' habitat and the threats it faces. Their research should answer the following questions:
    • What types of habitat does this species prefer?
    • What does this animal like to eat?
    • What are some of the threats to this species? Do the land uses you've seen on the maps have anything to do with these threats?
  9. Have groups present their findings to the class in brief oral presentations.
  10. After the presentations, discuss the relationship between human land use and endangered species. What do students think are the main causes of habitat loss in their home area? What do they think should be done to protect species while keeping in mind that many people live in the same areas as the animals?

Assessment Suggestions

Check to make sure that students have:

  • Accurately labeled the states on their outline maps.
  • Followed directions to glue the maps to the paper and draw the caption boxes.
  • Followed directions to find and list the endangered species and land uses for each state.
  • Participated cooperatively in their groups.
  • Presented oral reports on their species that clearly and accurately answer the three questions posed in step 8.
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