A whale unit study is the perfect way to keep the learning going through the summer and teach about some of the world’s largest aquatic animals. Below you’ll find a free whale unit study resource to download and print, as well as other information you can use for one awesome study!
All About Whales
Whales are some pretty interesting animals! Not only do they live their entire lives in water, but they also are incredible in size. The blue whale can reach lengths of more than 100 feet or as tall as a 9-story building and weighs up to 200 tons. This is as much as 134 adult rhinos!
Whales are large warm-blooded aquatic mammals that breathe air through blowhole(s) into the lungs. And like humans, they nurse their young.
There are two main groups of whales: toothed and baleen. Toothed whales have – you guessed it –- teeth! These guys are social beings and expert hunters. They use biosonar to hunt their prey of large fish, octopus, and squid. Baleen whales, on the other hand, don’t have teeth at all. Instead, their mouths are fringed with curtain-like keratin plates. They’re filter feeders, which means they consume huge quantities of water, teeming with tasty krill or shrimp.
Facts About Whales
There are several interesting things worth noting about whales:
- They love to sing.
- Their tales are like fingerprints.
- Whales are the largest animals that ever existed.
- Killer whales aren’t actually whales.
- You can tell a whale’s age through their earwax.
- When they are sleep, parts of their brain are still awake.
Videos about Whales
Books About Whales
Be sure to add picture and literature rich books to your whale unit study! Here are few a must-haves:
The Boy and the Whale, by Mordicai Gerstein
Inspired by a video he saw of a real-life whale rescue, Caldecott Medal-winner Mordicai Gerstein crafted this tale of a boy who works with his father catching fish for a living. One day they find an injured whale entangled in their fishing net. While the boy’s father laments the loss of the net and tells his son it’s too difficult and dangerous to free the whale, the boy has other ideas. He sneaks back out to the ocean and dives to cut the whale free, prompting the whale to deliver a joyful freedom celebration.
The Heart of a Whale, by Anna Pignataro (Available in January 2020)
A sweet, melancholy story with a happy ending, this lyrical picture book tells the tale of a lonely whale who sings a beautiful song as he drifts through a dreamy oceanic wonderland. Although his song delights everyone around him, it doesn’t fill the void in his heart…until his enchanting music helps him find a friend. Young readers fascinated by the sea will love the bewitching watercolor illustrations of vivid seascapes riotous with underwater life.
Breathe, by Scott Magoon
This picture book explores the life of a baby whale. Perfect for afternoon storytime with your little one, the text is spare and the illustrations are calming. The little whale ventures out on his own for the first time, with mini adventures and excitements popping up along the way. At the end of the day, he returns home to his mom. Perfect for young children venturing off to school or away from mom for the first time.
Amos and Boris, by William Steig
This oldie but goodie may be familiar to some parents. First published in 1971, Boris the whale has a devoted friend in Amos. And yes, Amos is a mouse. They have nothing in common. Or do they? Amos needs rescuing after a seafaring adventure gone wrong and Boris helps him out. Once Amos returns to dry land, he may just have the opportunity to return the favor.
Free Whale Unit Study Printable Pack
As I mentioned earlier, I have a free printable whale unit study pack for you. It has much of the information listed above along with:
- common species types
- whale matching
- word search
- and more!
Download this free Whale Unit Study and start a journey of learning about some of the world’s biggest fish!