What Is Happening To My Species?

Objectives of the Lesson
Background Information
Materials Needed
Evaluation/Alternative Assessment
Web Resources

Objectives of the Lesson:

Students will:

  1. Choose an animal character from the Manu program and role-play that Manu animal.
  2. Research background material on the Manu animal they choose.
  3. Give a classroom presentation expressing the environment of the animal and the treats that exist regarding its survival.

Background Information:

Use the PBS program The Living Edens: "Manu, Peru's Hidden Rain Forest" as a resource (If you missed The Living Edens "Manu" program that aired on November 12, 1997 you can order the video). The behavior of birds, reptiles and mammals are addressed throughout the program. All of this information will be useful for this activity. It is a good idea for the teacher to review the program first. Highlight important and unusual activities of the Manu animals so that this can be pointed out during student viewing of the film. The issue of predators, prey, survival techniques and others are all addressed in the program (Example: Howler Monkeys: The calls of howlers can be heard from miles. The predator of the Howler Monkey is the Harpy Eagle). These facts can be used for the student's presentation. Any of the animals of Manu can be used for an activity like this; however, I have chosen the Jaguar, Harpy Eagle, Howler Monkey, Macaw, Boa Constrictor, Giant Otter, and Caiman.

It can be assumed that all species in Manu are threatened by the pet trade, skin trade and habitat destruction in other parts of the Amazon. There is a great deal of information on these subjects available from the Wildlife Conservation Society/Bronx Zoo. For more information on conservation efforts click here.

Materials Needed:

  • Downloaded face masks of the Manu animals: mask 1, mask 2, mask 3, mask 4, mask 5, mask 6, and mask 7.
  • Copy machine to make multiple copies and enlargements of animal faces so that each student in class has a face mask (Example: Macaws travel in flocks. Perhaps 6 or 7 students will be Macaws)
  • A paper sack for each student to fit over the head
  • One old twin size sheet, cut in half, with which to make a body covering for the Manu animals (optional)
  • Colored markers, paint, colored pencils, and crayons sufficient for all students to color face masks and sheet body coverings.
  • Paper /pencil for notes on presentation to class
  • Staples and/or safety pins to hold sheet body covering
  • Copy machine to enlarge downloaded face masks for students
  • Student science journals


Students will work in teams up to 7 or 8 for flocks of Macaws, troops of monkeys, etc. and individually for animals as the jaguar.
  1. Give students a list of animals from Manu from which they may choose to role play for this activity.
  2. View Living Edens: Manu program and have students watch for the animal they select to role play.
  3. Download Manu animal face masks for distribution to students: mask 1, mask 2, mask 3, mask 4, mask 5, mask 6, and mask 7. Use copy machine to enlarge face masks to best fit students.
  4. Color face mask according to color key, cut out and attach with glue to paper sacks, cutting holes for nose, eyes and mouth.
  5. Have students create body covering designs by cutting old (twin size) bed sheets in half to form a cape, with or without a hood. The full size sheet is too large for this activity. Pattern the body designs by observing the animals in the Manu film. (Example: feathers on birds, spots on jaguar, etc.) Use markers or crayons to color the markings on the sheet.

    Color Key as follows:

    Boa Constrictor: Beige with dark brown or black spots
    Jaguar: Black spots on head, white mouth, and orange head
    Macaw: Black beak, white face, red head
    Harpy Eagle: Black top feathers, light gray beak and head, tip of beak black
    Caiman: Dark Brown
    Giant Otter: Dark Brown
    Howler Monkey: Medium brown face, red surrounding hair

  6. Research animals of Manu from the program, from the school library, and from a public library. Record all data in student science journals. Have students take notes from the research and Living Edens: Manu program and construct a short story of the life of the animal they have chosen as well as the threats against its survival. (Example: The pet trade, the skin trade, habitat loss, etc.)
  7. Complete the construction of the Manu animal and present the research to the class. (This will be a great experience for students in that they will present in a group, i.e. flock of Macaws, or individually as a jaguar.)

Evaluation/Alternative Assessment:

Evaluate students on how well they role play their animal, the content of their research for accuracy and how well they tell the story of the animal.

Elementary Extension:

This activity will work well with elementary students. They research may be difficult for elementary grades. Teachers may have to "help students along" with respect to the problems facing the species of Manu. They film will help students decide on what to say about the animals they choose.

High School Extension:

The face masks and body covering can be applied at the secondary level where students take great care for accuracy. More important at this level is the research on which animals in Manu are endangered or threatened. A record can be kept on a computer to analyze the numbers on a spread sheet. After data is collected, analyze and discuss the results.

Web Resources:













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