Teaching Suggestions
The Gray Whale Migration Route

From Mexico to the Arctic, gray whales have one of the longest migrations of any mammal on earth. The whales' 5,000-mile journey is documented by scientists and other trained observers who are based at Observation Posts along the migration route. In this activity, students learn about gray whale migration by way of a treasure hunt as they explore these three components:

  • Interactive Migration Route Map
  • Facts about the Observation Posts
  • Field Notes from the Observation Posts


Explore the Migration Route

Treasure Hunt Challenge
What can students learn about Gray Whale migration by visiting each of the Observation Posts along the route? Send them on a Treasure Hunt to find out:

Divide the class into small groups. Challenge groups to work as teams to "visit" each of the Observation Posts and collect nuggets of information.

Students can work with partners in the computer lab to view the interactive migration route map, or print out the text-only descriptions of the Observation Posts.

Distribute the Note-taking Chart and instruct students to click through the migration map to find and write the location names of each Observation Post. (Our sample chart shows the type of fun facts students can discover during the Treasure Hunt.)

After they have recorded location names for each Post, give instructions for the Treasure Hunt Challenge:

  • Groups will have 30 minutes to read about the Observation Posts.
  • Groups will collect and record short phrases (four words or fewer) to describe the facts you discover.
  • Groups will earn points for each phrase you record on the note-taking chart. (See scoring system below.)
  • Groups will work cooperatively to find efficient ways to collect as many facts as possible in 30 minutes.

After students have had time to collect facts, pair groups for "share and compare." Have the groups review facts Post-by-Post and calculate their Treasure Hunt points with this scoring system:

Scoring System
Number of facts 1 point
Unique facts 2 points
Shared facts 3 points
Total points  

Celebrate efforts and achievements to wrap-up the Treasure Hunt in a way that affirms everyone's participation and discoveries!

Migration Route of the Gray Whale
Migration Route Map

Migration route descriptions: Text only

Gray whale note-taking chart
Note-taking Chart

Graphic organizer: Sample chart
Sample Chart