Cold-Blooded Creatures: Classroom Activities
(To Fact Sheet)



Visit the Infrared Zoo: Images Capture Warm and Cold-Blooded
These special images let you SEE the differences between warm and cold-blooded animals. While you’re there, try being a cold-blooded animal seeking warm-blooded prey.


Journal: My Day as a Cold Blooded Creature
Imagine you suddenly became cold-blooded.
In fact, like a monarch, you can't move at all at temperatures below 41 degrees F. At that temperature, you can just begin to move. But it needs to be at least 55 F for you to have a normal activity level. How would your life be different? Write a short story about the day your warm-blooded body went cold. Imagine that you had to plan your activities around the day's temperature changes. Describe how this affected your plans, and what warm-blooded people had to do to help you!
Imagine: What Does it Feel Like?
Close your eyes and imagine you're in a big swimming pool filled with thick molasses up to your neck. You have to work very hard to get anywhere. Your movements are very slow. You're a cold-blooded creature, such as a monarch.
  • Why would food be harder for you to eat in winter than in the summer?
  • How might breathing be more difficult?

Watch out! Here comes a predator!

Move Like a Cold-Blooded Monarch

1. Post this chart on the board or on chart paper:

Monarch Movements at Different Temperatures
below 41 F 41 F to 55 F 55 F
paralyzed can crawl can begin to fly

2. Imagine you are a room full of monarch butterflies. The teacher or a student volunteer should call out a temperature from 1 degree F to 100 degrees F. Everyone in the class should act out monarch movements that "fit" with the selected temperature. The leader should explain why he or she will call out temperatures above 55 F:
As temperatures rise, monarchs' muscles get warmer and warmer, and they can fly better and better.

3. Repeat several times. Discuss what it "felt" like to have your movements limited. (Also discuss the fact that cold-blooded creatures don't have feelings like humans do! They are simply adapted to survive in their environments.)

Comparing Food Energy Expenses: Cold-blooded and Warm-blooded Animals
Most (75%) of the food energy we eat is needed to maintain our warm body temperature. Only 25% is needed for all other activities. Monarch butterflies are cold-blooded. This means they do not need to spend food energy to keep their bodies warm the way people do.

Try This!
Count the colories for each of the food items in your lunch today and make a pie chart like the one on the left below. (You can look up calories of common foods on a online Calorie Counter.) Assume 75% will be needed to maintain your body temperature and 25% for all of you other activities. Shade in pie chart, like the one on the right below. How many of the items in your lunch were used to maintain your body temperature?

Food energy graph Food energy graph

Journal, Discuss, and Dig Deeper

Journaling and Discussion Questions

  • What challenges do you think a cold-blooded creature would face if it came out or returned from migration too early in the spring?
  • What temperature-related dangers might monarch butterflies face if their Oyamel fir forests are cut back further?
  • Are cold-blooded or warm-blooded animals more likely to have fur and sweat glands? Explain your answer.

Digging Deeper
How can the season's early hummingbirds — the tiniest of all warm blooded animals — possibly survive when they go to sleep on a cold night?