- Students will understand how animals spend their time.
- Students will complete a census, an ethogram, and a time budget.
All animals need to eat, sleep, and reproduce. Some live alone, and some live in groups. Some are nocturnal; some are diurnal. Each kind of animal lives its life in its own way. Scientists use ethograms to record all the behaviors of an animal and time budgets to record how much time an animal spends at each activity.
- Notebooks and pencils
- Worksheets 1, 2, and 3
- Ethogram: a list of an animal’s observed behaviors
- Time budget: a record of how much time an animal spends at each activity
• How much time they think an animal spends eating, sleeping, being vigilant (watching for predators), grooming, hunting, etc.
• Whether it spends its time alone or with others. Why?
• If they think males and females organize their day the same way. What about adults and their young?
• If it’s the same way people organize their day?
2. Have each pair of students choose a species, and discuss how it spends its day. Have them illustrate their descriptions, and present them to the class.
3. Take students to an area where they can safely observe animals. This may need be a game drive. Have all students observe a Grevy’s zebra (if Grevy’s zebras can’t be found, any mammal can be observed) and complete each of the following worksheets, which can be found under Resources for this Lession:
• Worksheet 1: Census Sheet - shows the vegetation in the habitat that the Grevy’s zebra has chosen and what other animals are sharing the habitat.
• Worksheet 2: Zebra Ethogram – a list of a Grevy’s zebra’s (or other animal’s) observed behaviors.
• Worksheet 3: Time Budget – a record of how much time an animal spends at each activity.
The teacher will keep time and let the students know when to start, when 3 minutes have passed, then 6 minutes, then 9 minutes, etc. Each time the teacher calls out “Start”, “3 minutes”, “6 minutes”, etc., the students mark the box with the letter in the code at the bottom that describes what activity the animal is engaged in. Younger students can complete 15 minutes for one animal. Older students can do three animals at a time by scanning all three and writing down the code for the activity each is seen doing when the time is called out. By doing time budgets at different times of the day, a complete picture of the animal’s daily activities can be seen. Afterwards, younger students should decide which activity is the most common at different times of the day. Older students can be taught how to compute percentages.
For example, if a zebra spends 12 minutes out of 15 grazing, they would spend 12/15 = 4/5 = 80/100 = 80% of the time grazing.
Questions for Discussion
1.How do zebras move?
2. What do they sound like?
3. Compare a zebra with a goat. How are they similar? How are they different?
4. What are some of the predators of zebras?
5. What animals live or co-exist with zebras but do not eat them?
6. What activities were most common during the morning? At mid-day? During the afternoon?
Play On Guard!, a fun and informative game that will help your students learn how protective male zebras are of their females and offspring. Before you begin, explain to your students that even though zebras can run as fast as 65 kilometers an hour (40 mph), they sometimes get caught by predators. To help protect themselves, zebras usually stay together in a harem with at least one member on guard, alert to danger. Two zebras will usually stand side by side and face in opposite directions, giving them the ability to see in all directions. Having eyes on the sides of their heads gives them a wide range of vision. The game On Guard! mimics this protective behavior of zebras.
- stones (to represent food)
- Have the students form a large circle, and tell them that they are a group of lions on the African savanna.
- Select two students to be zebra guards in the center of the circle, standing side-by-side and facing in opposite directions. Attach a clothespin to the back of each zebra.
- As the teacher, you will walk swiftly around the circle of lions and tap one lion on the shoulder. This student will try to sneak up on one of the zebras and snatch the clothespin off its back before the zebra can call out the lion’s name.
- If the zebra calls out the name before the lion gets a clothespin, the zebras are safe and can stay in the center of the circle. If the lion gets a clothespin before his/her name is called, then the lion gets to become a zebra guard and the zebra who lost its clothespin joins the circle of lions. Repeat the process until everyone has had a chance to be a zebra guard. Your students will quickly see why zebras are always on guard!
- In addition to being vigilant, zebras need to eat grass. To show grazing, have the students pick up stones as food. After each round of the game, have the students add their stones to their own piles. At the end of the game, see who has the most stones. Start with one zebra. He/she needs to pick up food while also being vigilant.
- Increase the number of zebras to two. Does each become more efficient at gathering stones? Do they share the role of being vigilant?
- Next try three, then four zebras. The students should see that the more zebras there are, the more time there is to graze because they can take turns being on guard. They should also see that the number of times a lion successfully grabs a clothespin decreases as the number of zebras increases. (Older students could count and graph the number of zebras in a group, the number of stones collected, and the number of times the group prevents the lion from grabbing a clothespin.)
- Have many different people circle the lions so zebras aren’t watching the teacher to see who he/she taps.
- Try the game using two lions, since lions often hunt in groups.