Fueling Migration
How Hummers Keep Their Engines Running!

Review these reading strategies before diving into the slideshow with students. Select those that fit with your teaching goals and grade level.

BEFORE Watching/Reading the Slideshow

Listening/Thinking Critically: Play the sound clip on the first page before reading the text with students. Have them describe what they hear. Ask, What do you think is making the sound? Explain that the two types of sounds are coming from different parts of a hummingbird. Ask, Can you guess which parts are making the sounds? How did you decide?

Activate Prior Knowledge: Create a class KWL chart. The first two columns should list what students know and want to know about how a hummingbird gets the energy it needs to migrate long distances, hover mid-air, and dash from flower to flower. (After watching the slideshow, students can fill in what they learned.)

DURING the Slideshow

Action Words (adjectives): Make a list of words used to describe hummingbirds and their behaviors. What new words would you use to describe them?

Get Meaning from Photos: Have students carefully observe Slide 2 before reading the text. Ask, What do you see? What do you think the hummingbird is about to do? What questions do you have?

Critical Thinking. Discuss: Why do hummingbirds need to eat so often? (Hint: They are so small and their metabolic rates are so high, that they use up food energy very quickly.)

Identify Author’s Purpose: Why do you think the author used the words "fuel" and "engine" in the title? Why does she talk about "gassing up"? How is a hummingbird like a car?
(Hint: In order to run and function, cars burn [consume] the fuel gasoline in their engines. Hummingbirds — and people — consume and burn food energy to power our bodies and keep them healthy.)

Comparisons: Make a chart listing the possible advantages and disadvantages of going into a state of torpor.

AFTER the Slideshow: Extending Learning

Connections to Self

  • What does this story "tell you" about what you need to stay healthy? (A balance of food types, including protein.)
  • Write down how often you eat in a day. Then list the types of food you consume. Do the same for hummingbirds and compare the lists.
  • What causes Ruby-throated hummingbirds to feed up just before they migrate? (Increasing daylength.) How do you respond to the same natural event?

Math (for older students): Calculate how much of one of your favorite foods you'd have to eat in a day if you burned energy as fast as hummingbirds do!

* In-Depth Lessons

  • Learn about how hummingbirds also help their partners, the sapsuckers!
  • Discover how brainy hummers are when it comes to remembering where to get the best food!
  • Observe the flowers that fuel migration and predict what they are a good "fit" for hummingbirds!
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