articles / Homeschooling

Cross-curriculum learning: Killer Whale study

Anytime I’m working on lesson plans, I try to make sure that I cover as many themes or topics as possible in each lesson. When we are studying science, I don’t want to simply be studying science, but also applying concepts that were learned in other subjects. This not only shows that everything relates to one another, but it reinforces what they learn.

In science, Josiah has been studying mammals. His book (we are doing God’s Design for Life), prompted us to research a specific mammal and answer several questions about the animal’s habitat, eating habits, and other facts. I was happy the book did this because I had planned on doing this anyway because it was a great way for Josiah to babieslearn about topics he’s interested in and learn about research and different forms of writing.

So first thing we did was brainstorm different types of mammals, not just the normal ones we think of but we tried to think outside the box. Josiah came up with several ideas, but ended up settling for a giraffe. When we got to the library, Josiah discovered that there was only one book on giraffes. We all know this is not enough for research, so when Josiah realized he needed to pick a different mammal he sorted through the non-fiction books and chose Killer whales. We’ve looked at Killer whales before because he showed interest in them, but now would be a good time for him to study them more in depth.

Once he got his books we sat down and wrote down the questions that needed to be answered.

We needed to know:

  • Where do Killer whales live?
  • How big do they get?
  • What do they eat?
  • How do they live?
  • What makes them a mammal?
  • What about their families?

Once we got the questions down we started sifting through the books and Josiah pulled out the useful facts as I read them to him.

The last time we did this Josiah studied wolves and he wrote an informative storybook about wolves and illustrated it himself. This time I wanted to do something different from the storybook. So, in order to not only incorporate language into science, I decided to incorporate computer skills into science and Josiah did a Power Point presentation.

We went online together and he sorted through pictures of Killer whales to pick out the ones that would fit the different topics. Then I showed him what a Power Point was. He picked out the background and then started with the information. He titled the presentation, “The Killer family: All about Killer whales”. And yes, he came up with that on his own. Then we went through each slide and he told me the order he wanted his information and what pictures he wanted. I assisted him and did all the computer stuff, but the cool thing is that I helped him just a little bit less with the research and compiling of facts than when he’d done the wolf research project.

One of the things he learned in his research was that the only enemy of the Killer whale is humans. He saw photos of the nets and saw a photo of a whale that had been killed. He was upset about it, but in the process learned that animals like this deserve our compassion (sidenote: I am a huge advocate of hunting for the purpose of food, but not for sport and not animals that don’t serve a purpose to humans other than pleasure). He came to the conclusion that Killer whales are beautiful (his report says pretty) creatures and should be left alone because they do not harm people in the wild.

Since Josiah was researching Killer whales, I decided to do a little research myself (after all we should never stop learning). I watched Blackfish on Netflix and have to say that they way Killer whales are treated in captivity is very sad. I also checked out a book at the library written by a journalist about the big case against Sea World after a Killer whale killed a trainer. Two interesting facts from the movie: There are ZERO reports of Killer whales attacking or killing humans in the wild, but there are several cases of them attacking humans in captivity. Interesting fact #2 is that trainers (and spectators) at Sea World are told that Killer whales live about 30 years and that they live longer in captivity than they do in the wild. Fact: Killer whales in the wild live to be about 60-70 years old according to all research that wasn’t done by Sea World.

Here is the Power Point that Josiah did about Killer whales: The Killer family. All photos were borrowed from the internet and are not used to profit us in anyway, but strictly for school purposes.


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