Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Where, Oh Where, Did The Manatee Go?

Diane Schmidt
Florida DOE


Students become researchers, looking for the factors that affect the manatee's environment in south Florida.


The student knows how organisms with similar needs in a climatic region compete with one another for resources such as food, water, oxygen, or space.


-Copies of the "Manatee Graphic Organizer Rubric" (see Associated File)
-Encarta (if available)
-Computers with Internet access
-Identified Weblinks (see Weblinks)
-Construction paper
-Manatee pattern (see Weblinks)
-Glue sticks
-Colored pencils
-Chart paper large classroom size
-Chalk and chalk board (classroom board)

Please note the following is a book list for this project. Some of these may not be accessable at your school. Any books which deal with the manatee in a factual way will do nicely.
-Horn, Gabriel. "Steller's Sea Cow." NY: Crestwood House. 1989.
-Clark, Margaret. "The Vanishing Manatee." NY: Cobblehill Books. 1991.
-Sibbald, Jean. "The Manatee." Minneapolis, MN: Illon Press. 1990.
-Darling, Kathy. "Manatee: On Location." New York: Lothrop, Lee and Shepard Books. 1991.
-Reynolds, John Elliott. "Manatees and Dugongs." New York: Facts on File. 1991
-Jacobs, Francine. "Sam and the Sea Cow." NY: Walker.1991.
-Zeiller, Warren. "Introducing the Manatee." Gainesville: University Press.1992.
-Amato, Carol. "Chessie, the Meandering Manatee." Hauppauge, NY: Barron's Educational Series. 1996
-Jenkins, Priscilla. "A Safe Home for Manatees." NY: Harper-collins Publisher.1997.


1. Download and review the document in the associated file. This file contains a rubric or you may wish to construct one of your own. Feel free to use different scoring or different parameters for the scoring.
2. Go to Seaworld Website (see Weblinks) and to get the pattern needed. This is a single pattern and will need to be reproduced for students. If production is an issue, students can create their own manatees to serve as the center of the graphic organizer. Print a manatee pattern for each student to use on his/her graphic organizer.
3. Create an organizer showing the difference in Webbing and outline/list format if your students are not familar with its use.
4. Select and review the books you will use in the investigation stations. Once again please note that your school's library may not have all these books. All of the listed books are not required to make a station work. They do, however, add to the interest factor.
5. Review Weblinks. Print any information you may feel you will need, as Websites are not always available. These are child friendly sites, however the reading level may be above third grade. Other sites are available an the subject of manatees. These provided the best information in the area addressed by this lesson.
6. Establish investigation stations. Provide information at each center for students to look at and collect data from for their graphic organizers. Items such as classroom computers, a book station, a writing station, a station with articles, newpaper clipping, and encyclopedias work great.
7. Pre-cut manatees may be helpful if time in the class is a factor.
8. Become familiar with the factors that affect the manatee’s environment and the resources that you will be using as well as where the information is located in the resources.
9. Please note the time factor here will vary as you may not have the materials needed and have to locate them.


1. In whole group, ask students “What do you know about the manatee?”

2. Place responses onto the chalkboard, dry-erase board or chart paper.

3. Discuss with the students what factors affect the manatee’s environment in the south Florida area. Make connections between their answers where possible.

4. Place the class into working groups. (Size will vary based on number of students in your class.)

5. Tell students that researchers look at what factors affect the manatees and why.

6. Tell students they are now researchers and are to find facts that affect the manatees' environment using the materials in the investigation stations (see Teacher Preparation Step 6). Have students construct their manatee graphic organizers by cutting out the pattern and attaching it to the center of a piece of construction paper. Here, four facts will be listed on what the manatee competes for and who they compete against for it. If 'competes with' does not work with your class try using 'fights for' or 'struggles with.' This will be done by using the four corners of the paper to write their information creating a web with manatee as the center.

7. Allow the groups to rotate through the investigation stations collecting information. The time allocation will be decided by the teacher as class time and number of students will allow. The teacher will be responsibile for telling students when to move to the next center.

8. Have students select a group representive to share some of the their findings with the class.

9. Review the factors and the information that students may not have used in their investigations. Make sure that students understand that the manatees must compete for their food, space, etc. with other living beings.


Use students' graphic organizers as the assessment for this activity. Refer to the rubric provided (see Associated File). Vary the rubric's score base or assessment features as needed.

Students list four facts that apply to what the manatees compete for and with whom they compete for it. (two of each)

Students orally explain their choices and support why they believe these are factors.

Formatively assess students via a question and answer session allowing them to use their graphic organizers as a springboard.

As an alternative provide a whole group style assessment using the prompt “What do we know now about manatees?

Goal 3 standards are observed through the following guiding questions:
1) Information Mangers:
Do students collect, organize and present information in a meaningful way?
2) Effective Communicators:
Do students convey their understanding of the things manatees compete with?
3) Critical and Creative Thinkers:
Do students present their thoughts in non-conventional ways?
4) Cooperative Workers:
Do students work well with their groups/partners? Are they helpful to one another?

Add to this list of observational questions to create your own check list based on those items deemed of interest or importance with in your classroom setting.

Circulate and formatively assess students as they use the technology tools within the investigation stations. Provide assistance for students who are experiencing difficulty and monitor accordingly.


This lesson can be extended into math by tracking the manatee’s migration, to social studies by looking at how Native Americans used the manatee, to language arts by a journal, book report or writer corner, to art by a manatee mural or puppet. Multi-lingual books can be brought in as well as pairing students for support. A multi-intelligence factor is built into this lesson via the varied materials and research options (e.g. computers, books, articles, pictures)

Web Links

Web supplement for Where, Oh Where, Did The Manatee Go?

Web supplement for Where, Oh Where, Did The Manatee Go?
Save The Manatee

Web supplement for Where, Oh Where, Did The Manatee Go?
Graphic Organizer Manatee

A pattern for the white construction paper manatee is located on Page 3 of this PDF file.
Sea World Busch Gardens K-3 Classroom Activities

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