Teaching Suggestions
Big as Life: Our Gray Whale Poster
(Back to Slideshow Overview)


We know that gray whales are BIG. How big is big? A group of fourth graders wanted to showcase the length of a gray whale in a BIG way. They researched the facts and created a life-size poster! This slideshow is their story. Use their photo essay to inspire research. Challenge your students to create their own "BIG as Life" projects to showcase facts they learn about gray whales.

Essential Question:
How can we showcase the actual size of a gray whale?

Set the Stage for Learning

1. Preview the slideshow by sharing facts and asking questions:

  • A gray whale is big. How big is big? (Have students predict objects that would be as big as an adult whale.) A gray whale is as big as a....?
  • An average newborn gray whale is about 15 feet long. How big is an adult gray whale from head to tail?
  • Imagine creating a life-size drawing of a gray whale. Where would you display the drawing in our school?

2. Introduce the slideshow by previewing the photo gallery: Today we're going to read a photo essay by a group of fourth graders who wanted to create a life-size poster of a gray whale. As we read their story, think about how we could showcase BIG facts we discover about gray whales.

Gray whale nursery

Gray whale nursery


Viewing the Slideshow

As a class, read through the pages of the slideshow together. Stop occasionally to brainstorm ideas or ask questions.

After-Reading Activities

1. Brainstorm questions for research. Collect questions on wonder rings or research charts. As a class, you can decide to focus on questions related to the size of a gray whale or include a wider range of facts.

2. Research the facts. To help students get started, explore the Journey North research resources listed below.

3. Create your own life-size poster. As a class, work together to create a poster that showcases the size of an adult gray whale. Have students work in small groups to showcase their research questions and gray whale facts. Challenge students to make the poster into an interactive display:

  • Make paper pockets on the poster. Insert wonder ring cards in each pocket.
  • Make foldable cards that can be adhered to the poster. Write a question on the top and the answer on the inside.

Wonder Rings

Wonder Rings

Research Chart
Research Chart



Resources for Research
Wrap Up

Host an event that introduces the life-size poster to other classes. Have students plan each part of the event:

  • Greeting guests
  • Introducing and describing the project
  • Inviting participation and questions
  • Thanking guests for coming