Investigating Wolf Behavior
In this classroom activity, students investigate documented wolf behavior in photos and short movie clips. They identify and describe different behaviors, body language, and facial expressions and categorize them as submissive or dominant. Through class discussion, students will also identify pack roles and the possible advantages and disadvantages of this pack structure.
Key Concepts: Wolf behavior can be observed to identify pack structure. Some animal behaviors aid in survival.
Vocabulary Words: Submissive behavior, dominant behavior, alpha pair
Context for Use
Resource Type: Activities:Classroom Activity
Grade Level: Middle (6-8)
Description and Teaching Materials
To introduce the activity, I will divide students into small groups or use existing groups in the seating arrangement. I will comment on observations and how evidence can be used to test our ideas and perceptions. Students will then be directed as follows:
Observe the first photo. Record and discuss what you see with your table partner. What are the different behaviors you have observed? What do these behaviors communicate to other wolves?
Observe the second photo and record your observations.
Class discussion of observations and then address the question: Why do wolves behave differently?
Introduce the terms alpha pair and dominant and submissive behaviors.
How can we identify the alpha or dominant wolf and the submissive wolf? Make a list of criteria you will use in your observations. Observe several more photos and movie clips.
- Identify the alpha pair and describe characteristic behaviors.
-Identify submissive wolves and describe characteristic submissive behaviors.
Student should answer the question, "What evidence do you have for dominant versus submissive behaviors?"
In small groups discuss: What are the advantages of these behaviors? Record your answers on the dry erase boards. As a class discuss how these behaviors may help wolves survive and successfully reproduce.
(Optional) Homework Assignment: Observe three to four humans and record their body language. What does the evidence suggest to you about what the person is communicating?