Teaching Suggestions
The Annual Cycle of the Gray Whale
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Each spring, gray whales swim 5,000 miles along the Pacific coast from Mexico to the Arctic. The trip ends in the nutrient-rich feeding grounds of the Bering Sea in Alaska. In the fall, they travel back to the warm waters of Mexico to give birth, nurse their calves, rest and play before another journey north in the spring.

Essential Question
What is the annual cycle of the gray whale?

Gray whale migration, month-by-month.

The Annual Cycle of the Gray Whale


Instructional Activities

Start with Wonder: Explore Images
Invite students to examine the month-by-month images featured in the annual cycle, and wonder aloud about gray whales and their migration. Share intriguing facts and questions to spark curiosity:

  • Gray whales migrate farther than any mammal on earth, swimming 24 hours a day during migration.
  • Where are gray whales now and what are they doing?

Create Wonder Rings
Use paper tags or index cards to make wonder rings filled with student questions. Revisit the wonder rings throughout the year and have students record discoveries by writing fact sentences on the back of each card.

Calendar Handout
Read through the monthly pages of the annual cycle together as a class. Distribute calendar handouts. Have students reread the annual cycle and write verbs that summarize what gray whales do each month.

Annual Cycle Wheel
Challenge students to design a wheel-style graphic to showcase the month-by-month events of the gray whale's annual cycle. Ask questions to spark creativity:

  • How would you design a wheel-style graphic to showcase the cycle of events?
  • What words and images would you put on a wheel graphic to show where gray whales are and what they are doing throughout the year?

Seasonal Circle Book
Make a circle book to summarize the cyclical events by season (fall, winter, spring, summer). Encourage students to revisit the annual cycle to construct their circle book. Display books in your school's library.

Wonder Rings

Wonder Rings


Annual Cycle Calendar


Annual Cycle Wheel

Annual Cycle Wheel

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