Cave Creatures - Activities and Lesson Plans

Cover-Cave Creatures

Activities and Lesson Plans

Related 4th Grade TEKS

Math

4.4 B: Number, operation, and quantitative reasoning. The student multiplies and divides to solve meaningful problems involving whole numbers. The student is expected to: (B) represent multiplication and division situations in picture, word, and number form. 4.6 B: Patterns, relationships, and algebraic thinking. The student uses patterns in multiplication and division. The student is expected to: (B) use patterns to multiply by 10 and 100.

4.11 B: Measurement. The student applies measurement concepts. The student is expected to estimate and measure to solve problems involving length (including perimeter) and area. The student uses measurement tools to measure capacity/volume and weight/mass. The student is expected to: (B) perform simple conversions between different units of length, between different units of capacity, and between different units of weight within the customary measurement system.

4.12 A: Measurement. The student applies measurement concepts. The student measures time and temperature (in degrees Fahrenheit and Celsius). The student is expected to: (A) use a thermometer to measure temperature and changes in temperature.

4.14 A: Underlying processes and mathematical tools. The student applies Grade 4 mathematics to solve problems connected to everyday experiences and activities in and outside of school. The student is expected to: (A) identify the mathematics in everyday situations.

Language Arts

4.13 B: Reading/Comprehension of Informational Text/Procedural Texts. Students understand how to glean and use information in procedural texts and documents. Students are expected to: (B) explain factual information presented graphically (e.g., charts, diagrams, graphs, illustrations).

4.18 A i, ii, iii: Writing/Expository and Procedural Texts. Students write expository and procedural or work-related texts to communicate ideas and information to specific audiences for specific purposes. Students are expected to:(A) create brief compositions that: (i) establish a central idea in a topic sentence; (ii) include supporting sentences with simple facts, details, and explanations; and (iii) contain a concluding statement.

4.23 A, B: Research/Research Plan. Students ask open-ended research questions and develop a plan for answering them. Students are expected to: (A) generate research topics from personal interests or by brainstorming with others, narrow to one topic, and formulate open-ended questions about the major research topic; and (B) generate a research plan for gathering relevant information (e.g., surveys, interviews, encyclopedias) about the major research question.

4.26: Research/Organizing and Presenting Ideas. Students organize and present their ideas and information according to the purpose of the research and their audience. Students are expected to draw conclusions through a brief written explanation and create a works-cited page from notes, including the author, title, publisher, and publication year for each source used.

Science

4.1 B: Scientific investigation and reasoning. The student conducts classroom and outdoor investigations, following home and school safety procedures and environmentally appropriate and ethical practices. The student is expected to: (B) make informed choices in the use and conservation of natural resources and reusing and recycling of materials such as paper, aluminum, glass, cans, and plastic.

4.3 D: Scientific investigation and reasoning. The student uses critical thinking and scientific problem solving to make informed decisions. The student is expected to: (D) connect grade-level appropriate science concepts with the history of science, science careers, and contributions of scientists.

4.7 A, B, C: Earth and space. The students know that Earth consists of useful resources and its surface is constantly changing. The student is expected to: (A) examine properties of soils, including color and texture, capacity to retain water, and ability to support the growth of plants; (B) observe and identify slow changes to Earth's surface caused by weathering, erosion, and deposition from water, wind, and ice; and (C) identify and classify Earth's renewable resources, including air, plants, water, and animals; and nonrenewable resources, including coal, oil, and natural gas; and the importance of conservation.

4.9 A, B: Organisms and environments. The student knows and understands that living organisms within an ecosystem interact with one another and with their environment. The student is expected to: (A) investigate that most producers need sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide to make their own food, while consumers are dependent on other organisms for food; and (B) describe the flow of energy through food webs, beginning with the Sun, and predict how changes in the ecosystem affect the food web such as a fire in a forest.

4.10 A: Organisms and environments. The student knows that organisms undergo similar life processes and have structures that help them survive within their environment. The student is expected to: (A) explore how adaptations enable organisms to survive in their environment such as comparing birds' beaks and leaves on plants.

Social Studies

4.9 A, C: Geography. The student understands how people adapt to and modify their environment. The student is expected to: (A) describe ways people have adapted to and modified their environment in Texas, past and present; (C) analyze the consequences of human modification of the environment in Texas, past and present.

Discussion Questions

  1. Describe what you learned about four of Texas' coolest caves. Which one was formed by erosion?
  2. What is a cavern? Are caves and caverns the same things? What's a speleothem?
  3. Describe some of the types of cave formations you learned about. Which one is named after something we have in our houses?
  4. What's the difference between a stalactite and a stalagmite? What's a trick to help you remember which is which? How are they formed?
  5. What are the different cave zones? Does the sun shine in all of them? Do plants grow in all of them?
  6. What are three types of cave animals? Which ones do we call "cave visitors?" Which ones are "cave lovers?" And which ones are "cave dwellers?" Of the three, which ones have the most special adaptations? Why?
  7. What cave zone do trogloxenes live in? Why? Which zone do troglophiles live in? Why? How about troglobites? Why? Which of the three types of animals need to have the most specialized cave adaptations? Why?
  8. CHALLENGE QUESTION: How do our human activities above ground affect cave life below ground? Does it matter if the life below ground in caves gets sick and dies or becomes extinct? Why? Why not? Tell what you think.

Cave Cinema

If we haven't already made you eager to check out our special Texas caves, these videos from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department sure will! Check them out:

Learn How Our Lives Above Affect the Lives Below

Did you know that how we live above ground affects fragile life in underground caves? For instance, vehicle oil and lawn fertilizers that wash into caves harm cave species, many of which are endangered or threatened. What can you do to help protect cave life? Dr. Andy Glusenkamp says: "Conserve water, reduce or eliminate dangerous chemicals from your house. Encourage others to remember that we share this place with other organisms. Learn about which cave species live in your area and what threats they face. Most importantly, share this information with your friends and family!"

Fun Activities with Cave Words

This site, created by the American Cave Conservation Association, is a fun way to see what you learned about cave zones and the critters that live inside them: http://www.cavern.org/acca/wordhunt.php.

Cave Counting

Put your caveman cap on to solve these fun math problems using info from real Texas caves!

  1. The temperature inside of Longhorn Cavern is usually 68 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature outside is 25 degrees warmer, what is the temperature outside?
  2. Devil's Sinkhole is 351 feet deep. About what would that number be divided by 10?
  3. Kickapoo Cavern has the tallest cave column in Texas. It's 80 feet tall. How many inches is that?

Cavern Geology

TEACHERS! THIS ONE’S FOR YOU: This site offers a lesson plan that does a terrific job of explaining how caverns are a special type of cave. With this lesson, brought to you by the Sierra Nevada Recreation Corporation, you can get as detailed as you'd like. It also offers science experiments by grade level so you can tailor your activities that way as well. http://www.caverntours.com/cgp1.htm.

EXTENSIONS:

Macro What?!

You know what a biologist is, but what’s a "macro-invertebrate biologist?" Two hints: "macro" means really really little and “invertebrate” means without a backbone. Learn about a real-life macro-invertebrate biologist named Steven Taylor by visiting http://news.illinois.edu/news/10/1201caves.html. He’s done some pretty interesting things! Create a report for your class telling them about what a macro-invertebrate biologist does, including what’s different about it than being regular biologist. As part of your presentation, you should include Dr. Taylor’s awesome slideshow called, "The Hidden Life of Caves" at http://news.illinois.edu/slideshows/cave/. You can even learn about some of the life in the slideshow and dazzle your classmates with your brilliance as you show the photos! Submit to your teacher a list of all the resources you used to create your report (ask her/him to help you since your teacher will have a special way he/she will want that list written).

Build a Bat House

Unfortunately, many of our Texas caves are threatened or their entrances have been paved over. Yiker dikers! Since 1952, researchers have noticed a decrease in our cave-dwelling bat populations. Double yiker dikers! That's not good for lots of reasons, but one of them is that bats help us humans by keeping mosquito populations from going bonkers! How can you help the bats? One way is by building them new homes in case they can’t find a cave or other place to live. Here are some great directions for building bat houses.


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