Go to M. Black's Home Page 



For more ideas visit our 2006-2007
 class project page

...and our
  for individuals and small groups

Track the monarchs and cranes via

Track the cranes via


via WWF Canada

Please support

 Please support Operation Migration

Please support
World Wildlife Fund Canada
Support WWF Canada




Online Polar Bear Games

The World Wildlife Fund International has been tracking the movements of Polar Bears in Europe for four years.  They have a website that features online games  to teach kids about Polar Bears and the arctic environment. (NOTE:  After you click the above link, you need to navigate to the "parents and teachers" section of the Canon Kids' Zone website and select the "easy access" tab.) 

Grade 2 club member playing "Bear Jump"

Grade 2 club member answering an arctic knowledge
question that popped-up during an online game

Return to top

Downloadable Migration-Math Games

Mrs. Black has designed five math activities, for students in Grades K-2 and Special Education.  These games support the acquisition of basic math skills and teach concepts relating to the seasons and migration.  Text summaries, instructions, enhancements, alternate activities and tie-ins to other curriculum areas and downloadable game component pdfs are provided below.

4 Seasons Patterning  (Sorting, Patterning, Sequencing)

Migration:  The Counting Game (Addition)
Ultra-crane Hide and Seek (Subtraction)
Time to Roost  (Time)
Migration Money Math (Coin Names and Values)


"4 SEASONS PATTERNING"  (Sorting, Patterning, Sequencing)
Nature, science, math, language, architecture, music and art, etc. are full of patterns.  Helping young and special education students to begin discerning the patterns that exist in nature can assist them in seeing patterns in other contexts, and in understanding how things work.  I developed a special set of sorting/patterning/sequencing cards to help my special needs students see and imitate the seasonal/migration patterns that exist in nature.  The summer and winter cards are "elemental" (fire and ice), the spring and fall cards represent "flora" (tulips and fall leaves) and there are two other "fauna" cards (cranes and monarchs) that can be added into a patterning sequence or substituted for the spring and fall cards, to represent "the migration seasons."

Players:  1 or more

Materials Needed:  Several types of patterning cards (download below, nine-to-a-page).

Instructions:  Have students create patterns using a variety of seasonal and fauna cards.  Have them identify the "pattern core" (the segment that repeats) and "name" their patterns (e.g. winter-summer = A-B; monarch-monarch-crane = A-A-B; winter-spring-summer-fall = A-B-C-D)

Enhancement for more advanced students:  Have students create, analyze and name more complex patterns, in which the cards imitate the seasonal/migration rhythms of nature (e.g. winter-monarch migration-crane migration-summer-monarch migration-crane migration... where the animals substitute for the usual "spring" and "fall" seasonal.cards... = A-B-C-D-B-C)

Alternate Activity:  Have students pick up a handful of the patterning cards, at random, and then sort and line them up to form a pictograph.  Students can then use "math language" (most, more, same, less, least) to describe their patterning card graphs.

Science Tie-in:  Discuss the seasons and the weather and other natural events usually associated with each season.  GO OUTSIDE and make observations in each season that students are at school.


Return to top



Two of my Special Needs students struggle with fine motor skills, and the use of number lines.  For them, I developed a special migration board game with spinners and small game pieces, to assist them with fine motor development, and number lines that are oriented up, down and around corners, to help them learn addition.  This is a cooperative game, in which students help the Whooping Crane western flock migrate from NWT to Texas and the monarchs migrate from Mexico to Ontario, across actual base maps of North America.
Players: 2

Materials Needed:  Two photocopied maps of North America (11" X 17" or larger),  Map labels and spinners (download below), two pencils and two large paper clips for spinners, two small items to act as number line markers.

Instructions:  Each player selects a spinner and a species to work with throughout the game.  The student with the "species spinner" spins to see whether the cranes or monarchs will be moving.  The other player spins to see how far that species will move.  A "zero" indicates a no-fly day.  After both spinners have come to rest, the person in charge of moving the species that is flying moves the counter the appropriate number of places along the number line.  Then, both students spin the spinners again...   The game is complete when both species have arrived at their destinations, safe and sound.

Science/Conservation Tie-in:  Ask students what times of year cranes would migrate south and monarchs would be migrate north.  Discuss why they would do so.  When the number "zero" is spun, ask students why the particular species might not be able to fly on a particular day.  Help students compare Monarch Butterflies with Whooping Cranes, and the conservation efforts being made to protect both species.

Social Studies Tie-in:  The game utilizes actual migration routes.  Discuss the geography covered by these species and the challenges they might encounter en route to their destinations.


Return to top


Three of my Special Needs students struggle with one-to-one correspondence, using counters, and with the concept of subtraction.  To provide practice with counters and make the concept of subtraction more concrete, I developed a game in which each student is given and ultralight aircraft card, and 6-15 cards depicting cranes in flight. 

Players:  up to 4  (I made 4 ultralight cards and 60 crane cards)

Materials Needed:  Ultralight cards and crane cards (download below, four-to-a-page for ultralights, nine-to-a-page for cranes), a die or number cube, pencils and paper if students are to record number sentences.

Instructions:  Each student arranges his/her crane cards in a V-formation or ten-frame pattern behind his/her plane.  Each round of the game, one of the students rolls a die, to indicate how many cranes have broken away from the group and gone AWOL.  Each student then removes the appropriate number of cranes from his/her flight formation.  The students then formulate a number sentence that describes what happened.  (e.g. 12 - 4 = 8).  If they are working independently, you might choose to have them write their number sentences on paper.  If working with an adult, they might provide their answers orally or on paper. 

Enhancement for more advanced students:  This game could be enhanced by alternating between adding and subtracting, and keeping a running tally of the number of cranes tracking behind the plane, throughout the game.  For example:  12 - 4 = 8...   8 + 3 = 11...   11 - 6 = 5, etc... just like some of those crazy days when total chaos ensues on the real ultralight-led migration!

Language Tie-in
:  To aid in oral language development, have the teacher and students in the group take turns making up stories to explain where the cranes are hiding, each time some break out of formation during the math game.

Science Tie-in
:  Discuss how difficult it often is for Operation Migration pilots to keep all of their juvenile cranes on the wing.

Character Education Tie-in
:  Discuss how people can be equally rebellious with authority figures and how, (even though the cranes don't understand it), their "parents" have only their best interest in mind when they ask them to conform.  Ask students if they think this is true of their parents and the other authority figures in their lives.


Return to top


My special needs students are all learning about analogue and digital time, to the hour and half hour.  This cooperative game utilizes commercially-produced time flash cards, a commercially-produced clock with moveable hands, a custom made "monarch roosting tree" and "Monarch Butterfly tokens."  

Players:  An adult-helper plus 2-3 students is ideal

Materials Needed:  Tree graphic and tokens (download below, tokens twelve-to-a-page), clock with hands students can position, digital time flash cards.

Instructions:  I show my students a flash card with a digital time printed on it.  The students then work together to position the hands on a clock to indicate that particular time.  If they are right, one of them gets to put a monarch to bed, in the tree.  If they are wrong, the monarchs end up sleep-deprived!  ;-)

Alternate activities with the "Journey North Time To Roost Score Board":
-- Show students an analogue clock and have them translate the time indicated by the hands into digital format.
-- Use the monarch tree to acknowledge correct answers in patterning and other math activities... or in quizzes about any topic (especially monarchs!)
-- Use the monarch tree to acknowledge appropriate behaviour, etc.  ("The Monarch Tree Score Board" can be a multi-use motivational tool!)
-- If you affix self-adhesive velcro dots to the tree and game tokens, the tree can be displayed vertically  (e.g. on a bulletin board)

Science Tie-in
:  Share the phenomenon of monarch roosting behaviour with students!


Return to top


"MIGRATION MONEY MATH"  (Coin names and values)
Three of my special needs students are learning the names and values of coins.  This cooperative activity provides them with a real-life opportunity to learn about money. 

Players: 2 or 3 is ideal

Materials Needed:  Coin labels (download below), coins (real or play), containers for donated coins.  Change4Cranes boxes can be ordered online from Operation Migration.

Instructions:  Each day, the students work together to sort a handful of coins into piles, by denomination, placing name and value cards with the appropriate piles.  Then, they divide each pile of coins into two equal parts and place the coins in donation containers for Operation Migration and the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary Foundation.  (NOTE:  As of early-October, I am supplying coins for students to donate to these charities.  If I receive approval for students to donate coins from home, I will have my Special Education students sort all the coins donated by members of my migration club and enrichment group members.)

Enhancement for more advanced students:  Students could be asked to place the coins on a graphing grid and describe the number of coins, on a particular day, using math language (i.e.  most, more, same, less and least common).  Students could also add up the value of the coins being donated to each charity, on a particular day.  To practice skip-counting, they could group the pennies in pairs, and count them by twos, count the cents represented by the nickels by fives, and count the cents represented by the dimes, by tens.

Character Education Tie-in:  This activity provides an opportunity to learn about the need to help others

Science/Conservation Tie-in:  Discuss  how the money we are donating will benefit the cranes and monarchs.


Return to top