Volume 1, Number 3

1. ‘TIS THE SEASON… to Observe Mammals!
2. Challenge Students to Solve a MAMMAL MYSTERY


Now that the leaves are off the trees, the antics of squirrels are easier to see. Active by day and well adapted to living in the midst of humans, squirrels are great mammals to observe. They offer lots of interesting behaviors for study. What are the squirrels in your neighborhood doing today?

Use First Hand Learning’s short video clip of “squirrel gymnastics” to begin observing right now!

Download a free MINI-JOURNAL and you too will be off and running. This compact notebook motivates students to write and draw what they see. Find this printable pdf document, along with folding directions, here.

Check out the other mini journals that offer “A Firsthand Look at…” and view some video clips of animal behavior to help jumpstart the process of documenting aspects of the natural world here.


Looking for a standards-based classroom unit that provides students in grades 5 – 8 with hands-on opportunities to learn more about mammals and the inquiry process at the same time? The Object Lessons® Examining Mammals kit challenges students to discover the identities of five mystery mammals by studying their skulls, teeth, fur, feet, tracks, and scat. Along the way, they handle real coyote and squirrel skulls, discover how teeth and scat can tell the story of what a mammal eats, and learn to read animal tracks.

Students examine the component parts of each animal, make close observations, collect and analyze data, formulate hypotheses, and by reasoning from the evidence, come to conclusions about the identities of the five mammals.

The Examining Mammals kit, developed with funding from the NSF, has been highly regarded by teachers and students who use it. Susan Nablo, Asst. Supt. of the Lockport City Schools in New York State, values “the practical aspect of having kids literally dig into science and become engaged in learning. It creates powerful connections for students."

Check out Examining Mammals: review the kit materials in detail, read a sample lesson, and learn more by going to


Are you interested in enriching your local habitat to make it more welcoming to wildlife? Here’s an idea from the National Wildlife Federation that will help out the only mammal that truly flies: the bat.

Bats don’t always live in caves. In spring they look for sheltering spaces where they can rear their young. You can help a bat find a suitable nesting site by building a “bat house.” Use the instructions provided online from the Backyard Wildlife Habitat pages of the NWF website and make your school or back yard more hospitable to wildlife.

For complete instructions click on:

We hope you found this edition of the FIRSTHAND E-NEWSLETTER useful. Please contact us with any comments, suggestions, or questions you may have by emailing us at:

First Hand Learning is interested in teachers’ accounts of learning and teaching from direct experience. Share your thoughts and stories with us, and we’ll feature them in a future e-letter highlighting real-world inquiry in, and out of, the classroom.

This e-newsletter is a product of First Hand Learning, Inc.
Subscribe for free at
Unsubscribe by sending an email to with the subject "unsubscribe."
Contact us at: (716) 831-8722 or
First Hand Learning, Inc. is committed to protecting the privacy of its colleagues and customers. FHL does not sell or rent email addresses to other organizations.
© 2005 First Hand Learning, Inc.

Subscribe to our e-newsletter by entering your email address below:

'.chr (10)); } else { echo ('Your request could not be processed because '); echo ($errors.' Please enter your email address and try again.
'.chr (10)); }; } else { echo (' '); }; ?>

First Hand Learning, Inc. is committed to protecting the privacy of its colleagues and customers. FHL does not sell or rent email addresses to other organizations.

E-Newsletter Vol. 1 No. 2

E-Newsletter Vol. 1 No. 1