Migration Lesson for Kids: Definition & Facts

Instructor: Dacia Upkins

Dacia has taught all core elementary subjects for 14 years with a Master's degree in Urban Teacher Leadership.

Every year, some animals move from their homes to a new place and then move back home again. This is called migration, and while it's a lot of work, animals have good reasons for moving around. Read on to learn more.

What Is Migration?

Every autumn, I look forward to seeing the flocks of cackling geese flying over my house heading south for the winter. I'm even more excited to hear them returning in the spring.

Much like these geese, many animals move from one place to another for a short amount of time and then return home. This seasonal movement from one place to another is called migration and typically happens every year. Migration is an example of a behavioral adaptation, which is something that animals do to survive.

Why Do Animals Migrate?

When we think traveling, we might think of a fun vacation or a trip to visit relatives in another city, state, or country. But other animals migrate for different reasons, in order to survive. These migrations may be short distances or much longer distances, depending on the animal and the reason they're moving.

Some animals migrate to find food, while other animals migrate to be able to live in better environments, like heading south to move away from the snow. There are also some animals that migrate simply to breed, or reproduce.

GPS? No, thank you!

Scientists still don't know for sure how these animals know where to go or how to get there. It's as if the animals have some kind of built-in GPS! But they have come up with a few possible ideas.

Some scientists think that animals use the sun's position in the sky to guide them, since it crosses from east to west every day. They might even use their sense of smell - maybe you've noticed that your house has its own smell, different from your friends'. There are even some scientists who are pretty sure that animals use the magnetic pull of the earth to guide them.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create An Account