How is a Human Vacation
Like an Animal Migration?


1 period and updates throughout the season

Sample Chart (for teachers)
Blank Charts (for students)

When you go on a trip, you have to prepare for it. How is a human vacation different from an animal migration? For example, have YOU ever traveled without a suitcase?

As students study migrations this season, prompt them to compare and contrast the purpose of travel, the preparations required, and the challenges faced. They're sure to appreciate an animal's remarkable journey even more after comparing their abilities to our own.


  1. Ask students to think about trips they've taken. Ask, Why did you go? What made the trip fun, comfortable and safe? What caused problems? Invite stories that illustrate these points.
  2. Make two columns on the board or a flip chart. Label one column Human Travel and the other Animal Migration. Pose questions that spark students to compare human travel and animal migration. Here are some examples:
  • What's the purpose of your trip?
  • How far ahead do you make your plans?
  • What things do you need to bring? (Have you ever traveled without a suitcase?)
  • Do you need to get in shape before you go?
  • How do you find your way?
  • Does the weather usually affect your time of departure, or the pace of your travel?
  • How do you find food on your travels?
  • Where do you spend the night?

As soon as students get the idea, let them suggest their own comparisons. They should write responses on Migration/Vacation charts. (You might want to look at the Sample Migration/Vacation chart so you can prompt students.)
Note: If you track more than one migration this year, have students make and compare migration/vacation travel charts for different kinds of animals.

3. Continue the "trip" by asking students to add more items to the class chart or individual ones as they delve into migration. They should use a different color pen or pencil for these additions.

See what new items students are able to add to their charts during the Journey North season and ask how these reflect student understanding. Check that they're able to identify some of the "whys" and "hows" of migration
and the adaptations (structural and behavioral characteristics) that enable animals to make these journeys.