Whale Unit (and the Arctic) – Migration, Echolocation, Baleen vs. Toothed Whales

One of the days we read books, I stopped frequently to explain things and do activities with the kids.


Whale Migration:

For example, we talked in quite some depth about whale migration from the Arctic down the west coast of North America and back again.  I pulled out an Arctic Pin map I made and the kids placed the various countries that make up the Arctic region. You can download the Arctic region pin map here if you are interested.

 P1150574arcticThen we looked closely at the migration path the whales took and the kids took turns “swimming” their whales up and down from the Arctic to Mexico.



Whales are Mammals:

We talked about what makes animals a mammal. Since one of the main features of mammals is that they breathe oxygen we talked about the fact that whales have to hold their breath. Some whales hold their breath for over an hour.  We took turns timing how long we could hold our breath. It was harder than the kids realized!




As we read Gail Gibbon’s book, she talked about how whales use echolocation to find food.  We took a large bowl of water and watched the rings of water go out to the edge and come back again.  When I took a picture, we realized how clearly we could see the rings. The kids all took turns tapping the water and snapping pictures. We took many, many pictures. MANY! (Delete, delete, delete!)



 Baleen vs. Toothed Whales


We talked for many days about baleen and toothed whales. Again, you can get some great baleen/toothed whale cards at Homeschool Share.  Baleen whales are considerably larger than toothed whales. Baleen whales have two blow holes. We talked about what baleen is (similar to fingernails).  And then we did this activity that was recommended by my dear friend, S, a third grade public school teacher.

We took pepper (krill) and sprinkled it over the water. Then we tried pinching the krill/pepper with our fingers.  We weren’t able to get very much.  When we took a toothbrush (our baleen) and combed the water with it, we were able to get out heaps of the krill.  What a great activity! Thanks S!



Can you believe… our whale unit STILL was not over. Stay tuned for even more of our whale activities and experiments!

Ocean Unit:

At the beginning of the year we did a unit on the ocean. We did other activities related to the ocean then as well.  I also made various printables (such as the ocean animals and their group cards pictured to the left) and you can browse through these pages to see if there’s something of interest if you’re doing an entire unit on the ocean:

Ocean Animals and their Groups

You might be interested in these related items:

Ocean Zones – Layers of the Ocean



Ocean Packet: You might be interested in our 65+ page packet all about the ocean – marine habitats, ocean navigation, currents & tides, fish body types, bioluminescence and more!


You may also be interested in this whale-themed preschool activity for -in and -it words.

 whale-it-in-wordsSee you again soon here or over at our Homeschool Den Facebook Page. Don’t forget to Subscribe to our Homeschool Den Newsletter! ~Liesl


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