Keywords: native species; Lesson Grade: 4th; Time Required: 30-40 minutes; Setting: classroom and computer room


The students will use technology to select an animal that is native to Pennsylvania. Using the Critter Quest web-site, the students will learn where the animal is found in our state. They will also find and print wildlife facts about their selected animal.


Full size map of Pennsylvania, computers with internet access, overhead computer projector/display T.V. hooked up to a computer, printer

4.7.4.A. Identify differences in living things.
* Identify local plants or animals and describe their habitat.
3.3.4.A Know the similarities and differences of living things.
* Describe basic needs of plants and animals.
3.6.4.B Know that information technologies involve encoding, transmitting, receiving, storing, retrieving and decoding.
* Identify electronic communication methods that exist in the community (e.g., digital cameras, telephone, internet, television, fiber optics).
3.7.4.D. Use basic computer software.
* Apply operating system skills to perform basic computer tasks.
* Identify and use simple graphic and presentation graphic materials generated by the computer.
* Apply specific instructional software.
3.7.4.E. Identify basic computer communications systems.
* Apply a web browser.
* Use on-line searches to answer age appropriate questions.

Subjects: Social Studies, Science, Technology

Topics: Native Animals of Pennsylvania, Location of Species Across the State, Using a Web-site for Information


By now, the students have become familiar with the full sized Pennsylvania map. They can identify their hometown, schools, local important locations and the major rivers and cities of Pennsylvania.

In this lesson, the students will decide on an animal that they would like to study. Introduce the word Native and discuss using examples. Would horses be native? (No, they were brought to America by the colonists.) Would white-tail deer be native? (Yes, the Native Americans have been hunting them for generations) Would a pineapple plant be native? (No, they don't grow here.) Would blackberries be native? (Yes, they are wild and have always been here.) Etc.

Display these statistics either on the blackboard or using the projector.

In Pennsylvania there are:

  • 63 native species of mammal
  • 177 species of breeding birds (birds that raise their families in Pennsylvania, not just migrate through)
  • 37 species of amphibians
  • 39 species of reptiles

Using the projector/T.V., bring up the Critter Quest web-site:

For this section of the lesson, you may choose to have the class watching in the classroom as a whole group, or you may be in the computer lab having the students follow along on their individual computers. Using the computer and projector guide the student through the web-site. Select the Map Page. This page displays a map of Pennsylvania. Each time you choose to display selected data, it adds a layer to the map. You can see the data, but you can also see through the rest of the map. Let's try. Have the class choose a base layer such as PA Rivers. Select the layer and watch the map change. Have the class explore with a few layers, adding and removing layers.

On the upper right of the screen you will see

  • "To find which critters live in your county (or all of PA), select the county:"
  • In the box underneath, be sure the choice says, "All of Pennsylvania."
  • Hit the "Go" button. This will bring up a second window. This window has the available wildlife for study.
  • Read the top section of this new page. "The critters listed below live in All of Pennsylvania."
  • Check box to show critter locations on map.
  • Click on underlined name for links to information about the critter.

Have the class select a critter together to look at. This should not be a popular critter, because the students will gravitate toward these on their own. Have them choose an obscure species that they may have never seen. Click on the underlined name to see the wild-life facts and photo of the animal. Together, study the picture and map as well as read the information provided about the animal. Tell and demonstrate the students that they can print this window by using the printer icon on the task bar. Do not have the students print at this point. Close the fact window and click in the box beside the selected animal. Watch as the map changes.

Demonstrate that the students can minimize the animal selection window. Have the students maximize the window and select an animal on their own. Tell the students that they may explore many critters, but may only print out 3 information sheets, so they should choose wisely. They will later choose one of these animals to create a variety of projects on. Once the students choose which animal they wish to study, they may open the animal window back up. They will scroll down to the section "For more information on this species:"

The students will follow some of these web-sites and print out the information that they find. All of these papers should be stapled together by the students.


The teacher should float around the room/lab to be sure that students are engaged and following along during instruction as well as site exploration. The students will staple their printed papers together and submit them to the done box. The teacher will check to see that everyone has printed out at least one animal for their unit of study with supplemental information found from the extra web-sites.

Literature/Sources Cited

Pennsylvania Statistics on Species: Wildlife Ecology provided by Margaret C. Brittingham, Forest Resources Institute for Teachers 2009

Critter Quest Web-Site provided by, PA Center for Environmental Education


Christina Gugliocciello, Bald Eagle School District, (Grade 3, 4, 6, and Reading)