Photo Credit:  Lioness with Young:  Photo by AdmMH, via

The “king of the jungle”, actually lives on the grassy plains of Africa’s savanna, and the dry, arid plains of India’s national preserves. At one time they were found across the southern part of Europe and throughout all of Africa, but they have been wiped out of those areas by their most dangerous predator—man.  However, recently scientists from Germany photographed lions in the rainforests of Ethiopia, so maybe he is “king of the jungle” after all!

Lions are the only big cats that live together in groups. The group, called a pride, often has 1-3 adult males, and 12-15 adult females and their cubs. All of the female lions in a pride are related to each other—grandmothers, mothers, sisters. The females rule the pride. Each pride needs a large territory. They mark it by spraying urine, and rubbing their scent glands on plants, rocks, and the ground.

Adult lions are 5-8 feet (1.5-2.4 m) in length, and weigh 330-500 pounds (150-227 kg). They can run up to 50 miles per hour for a short time, but are not built for running long distances or hard fighting. A flap of loose skin on their bellies protects them from kicks directed at them as they attack prey. A lion’s rough tongue has sharp hooks on the top. The hooks catch and remove loose hair as they groom themselves. These hooks are also strong enough to tear skin off their prey. Their large claws retract into their paws. They can extend them to help them grip and hold.

The females of a pride hunt together at night. Several lions will spread out and hide in the grass as the rest of the group chases the prey toward them. When the prey reaches the hidden lions, they spring up in ambush, attacking it together, from all sides. Medium sized animals such as wildebeest, antelope, and gazelle are their favorite prey. Sometimes males assist the females in hunting very large prey such as cape buffalo and giraffe, but male lions do not generally hunt. Their huge mane makes them too noticeable. After a kill, the male adults eat first, then the females. Finally the younger members of the pride are able to dig in.

Male lions leave their pride when they are two and a half years old. The young males form their own group, and start looking for a pride to take over. They attack the pride’s male lions, and if they are able to kill or drive them away, the pride becomes theirs. They often kill, and sometimes eat, the cubs of the previous males to get rid of any competition from them.

Life on the savanna, even for lions, is hard. Male lions live 10-12 years in the wild, while females may live up to 19 years.

To download this information sheet, along with one written for grades K-1 and grades 2-3, click here.

Posted in Animals, Integrated Instruction, Language Arts, Savanna, Special Education | Leave a comment



Photo Credit:  Cheetah Snack:  Photo by kolibri5, via

A cheetah is built for speed. Its long thin legs, lightweight bones, and short coat make it the fastest land mammal in the world. It can go from 0-60 miles an hour in just 3 seconds, and it can run as fast as 70 miles per hour, although it can only maintain that speed for short distances before it gets too hot and breathless to go on. A cheetah hides in the tall grasses and shrubs of the savanna, watching his prey with his excellent eyesight. When the prey is within 50 yards, the big cat explodes towards it, attempting to knock it down by crashing into its side or jumping onto its back. Once the prey is down, the cheetah grabs onto its neck, crushing the wind pipe, and choking it. It may take 4-5 minutes for the prey to die. Once it’s dead, the cheetah drags it off into a shady hiding place to eat. Cheetahs eat about 30 pounds of meat at each kill, and don’t return to their kills later to feed. After a full meal, a cheetah can go for 2-5 days before it needs to eat again. Females caring for their cubs have to kill more often. One observer counted a female cheetah with cubs killing 31 gazelle and a hare in 35 days!

Female cheetahs give birth in areas with plenty of cover. They hide their cubs for the first month of life. The cubs are born blind, but they can crawl, turn their heads, and spit. When they are five and half weeks old, the mother leads them to her kill. From then on they follow her unless she is hunting. The family feeds together. The mother licks her cubs’ faces after eating. When the cubs are 6 months old, the mother brings live fawns and hares for them to practice catching and killing. They usually are able to get their own food by the time they are 15 months old.

Cheetahs live on their own. Females often settle in their mother’s territory, but don’t live with her. Males leave their mothers when they are 17-23 months old. They usually live in pairs or small groups, often with their brothers, and travel many miles away from their birth territories. Working in teams gives them a survival edge in the harsh world of the African savanna. Lions prey on cheetahs, and large eagles often feed on cheetah cubs.

When meeting other cheetahs, the animals sniff each other, lick faces, and rub cheeks. Cheetah sounds are very different from those of other cats. Their chirps, yelps, and yips can be heard a mile away. A mother uses a high-pitched roar (churring) to call her cubs to a kill. They bleat when they are in trouble, and moan, growl, snarl, and hiss when they are angry. When they are happy and content they purr, just like house cats.

Cheetah cubs are very playful. They chase, box, wrestle, and play tug-of-war. They climb trees, stalk, pounce, and ambush. Females remain playful for life.

Cheetahs are a high-interest animal for kids everywhere!  Click here to download information sheets on this amazing creature.  They are written at three different grade levels–K-1, 2-3, and 4-5.  (The above article contains the 4-5 information sheet.)

Posted in Animals, Integrated Instruction, Language Arts, Literacy Activities, Savanna, Science Themes, Special Education, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

African Watering Hole


One of the most interesting items I’ve found as I’ve researched the African savanna is this webcam of an African watering hole.  Although the Live Cam is dark during my daytime, there are highlights that can be viewed at any time.  It’s fascinating!  I find myself checking it out almost every day.  There’s just something about observing animals in the wild that beats a zoo any day!  The only down side is that the highlights are a continuous loop and once you’ve seen them all (and it only takes minutes) you’ve seen them all!  Still, I can’t get enough of the elephant maneuvering it’s baby around the water hole!

Those of you who live closer to Africa may do better with the Live Cam than I do!  It appears that you can snap pictures from the cameras as well.  How cool is that!  And there are LOTS of cameras to choose from in addition to this one.  Explore what they’ve got!  It’s worth the time.

You can find the original site here.    It’s provided by  Hope you and your kiddos will enjoy it as much as I do!

Posted in Savanna, Science Themes | 2 Comments

Savannas of the World

I’ve started working on a new set of teaching materials about the African savanna.  The diversity, amount, and concentration of life found on these sweeping, grassy plains is staggering.  The interdependence and interactions between species boggles the mind!  Truly each plant and each animal has been created to fill its own unique niche.  For the next weeks (months?) I hope to share some of the amazing tidbits I find as I research this incredible biome and its residents.  The material I’m sharing has been written for 4-5 graders, and I’m including information sheets you may feel free to use in your classrooms.  The material to download contains similar articles written for grades K-1 and 2-3, as well as the article shared here, for grades 4-5.


The wide, sweeping grasslands of the world’s savannas cover about 10%-20% of the land surface on earth. They are the youngest biome to develop and contain the highest concentration of mammals found anywhere on earth. Located between tropical rainforests and deserts, you will find large, rolling, grassy ranges with scattered trees and shrubs. There is not enough rainfall on the savanna to support a forest, but more rainfall than found in the dry, arid deserts.

There are two seasons in the savanna—the long, dry season in winter, and the wet, rainy season in summer. During the dry season, little or no rain falls. The rivers and watering holes dry up, the plants drop their leaves, and the grass withers. Food becomes hard to find. Lightning may hit the ground causing fires. The dry season usually lasts from six to eight months and is the reason why the savanna doesn’t turn into a forest.

In the summer, beginning in May, there is a lot of rain—10-30 inches (25-75 cm) may fall during this wet season which is 6-8 months long. The air, warmed by the sun and the land, rises up to meet the cooler air of the sky and creates rain. It rains nearly everyday, sometimes for hours at a time. This heavy rain can result in floods and erosion. The temperature is warm year round, usually ranging from 65-85 degrees (20-30 C).

There are several different types of savannas. The most famous is the Serengeti Plains in Tanzania. These open grasslands are dotted with umbrella-shaped acacia trees. Open wooded areas create another type of savanna. The trees provide good cover for animals, but they are far enough apart so the sun can reach the woodland floor and allow grass to grow. Some savannas have short grass, and some have tall grass. Different animals live in the different types of savannas. Meerkats live in short grass areas so they can see predators from a long distance. Lions live in tall grass savannas so they can hide in the grass as they stalk their prey. Giraffes live in acacia savannas because the acacia tree is their favorite food. Each plant and animal is custom-made for their niche in the grassy plain!

Download information sheets for Savannas of the World.

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How Animals see the World


Here’s an interesting video from National Geographic about the types of eyes found in the animal world.  It’s impossible to know exactly how the world appears to animals with different types of eyes, but scientists do know the types of vision presented by different types of eyes.  The scientist speaking would most like to see through the eyes of a shrimp mantis.  Their eyes are multiple and see the same thing from different points of view!  That sounds pretty confusing to me!

Appropriate for grades 5+

Posted in Animals, Human Body, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

High Frequency Bingo Games


During my time as a reading and intervention specialist I found beginning readers made surprising progress using short games that focused on high frequency words.  I was rather surprised by this because practicing words in isolation doesn’t really fit with my philosophy of teaching, but I couldn’t argue with the results!  I used one set of high frequency words each month as the focus of the practice, so I ended up with 10 sets of games to use during the year.  Concentration, Bingo, and active, exciting games with flashcards proved to be the most beneficial.  Each game only took about 5-10 minutes of our time together, but the students were really focused during the entire time.  I wanted to share these games so I’m including the complete set here.

Because each card has to have a different arrangement of words, making Bingo games is really time-consuming.  Each game has 8 different cards, so this set of materials works best in small groups.  I hope you and your kids will get a lot of benefit out of these items.  My students sure did!

Posted in Just for Teachers, Language Arts, Literacy Activities, Special Education | Leave a comment

George Washington Writing Paper


Here’s a little something to help out with President’s Day.  There are 5 different pages for differing levels of student writing.  Your students from grades K-5 can write and draw about George Washington.  Hope it’s helpful!  And have a GREAT day off!

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Happy Valentine’s Day!


In a hurry?  Need some cards for your students quick?  Here’s a little Valentine’s Tic Tac Toe card you can run off .  It’s one-sided so there’s room on the back for a little note or lots of space to tape on a sucker, eraser, or a pencil.  I suggest you run it off on cover stock.  There are 4 cards per 8.5X11 sheet.  Hope you’ll find it useful!

Have a happy day with your students!

Posted in Classroom Publishing, Holidays, Valentine's Day | 2 Comments

Birds of Paradise

A friend sent me a link to this video of an amazing group of birds that live only in the rainforests of New Guinea.  Two men from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ed Scholes and Tim Laman, a scientist and a photographer, have spent almost a decade studying these birds in their remote location.  They don’t know why these birds only live in this place, or why they have developed as they have.  They have put together some breath-taking footage of these glorious creatures.  It deserves a place in your rainforest materials!

National Geographic also has a 47 minute video about the men and the birds.  Students will also learn about the life of a field scientist through this amazing program.

Posted in Amazing, Birds, Rainforest, Real Life Projects, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Celebrating Young Heros of Pakistan; Legendary Children – Part II

This gallery contains 6 photos.

Originally posted on The Human Lens:
As The Human Lens is focusing on “celebrating childhoods”, here is the second and awaited part for readers, considering the amount of positive feedback and traffic that came this way, on part i. Those who…

Gallery | 3 Comments