Whales Lesson Plan

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has an Masters of Science in Mathematics and a Masters in Education

Use this lesson plan to guide your instruction on whales. Students will learn how to define and identify a whale, then read about different types. Apply knowledge with a fun activity.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • explain the characteristics of the two main types of whales
  • compare and contrast toothed and baleen whales


  • 50 minutes


  • The lesson Whale Facts: Lesson for Kids displayed on a shared reading device or a copy for each student
  • Construction paper
  • Markers, colored pencils, and crayons

Key Vocabulary

  • Whale
  • Toothed whale
  • Baleen whale

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.1

Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.2

Determine the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details; summarize the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.4

Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words or phrases in a text relevant to a grade 4 topic or subject area.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.10

By the end of year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, in the grades 4-5 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.


  • Connect students to the topic and prepare for learning by asking them to complete a 3-2-1 writing: 3 facts they know about whales, 2 questions they have, and 1 thing they'd do if they were a whale.
  • Share and discuss answers, then either pass out copies of the lesson Whale Facts: Lesson for Kids or prepare to read together as a class.
  • With students, read the first section 'What is a Whale?' then ask:
    • What makes a whale a mammal? List characteristics on the board as students answer.
    • How do whales breathe?
    • How do whales sleep?
    • Where do whales live?
    • Why do you think whales breach?
  • Read the section 'Toothed Whales.' Ask students to turn and talk to a seatmate about the characteristics of the toothed whale, then share as a class. List on the board.
  • Now read the section 'Baleen Whales' and repeat the exercise above. Ask:
    • How are toothed and baleen whales the same? How are they different?
    • Would you rather be a baleen or toothed whale? Why?
  • Read the Lesson Summary together and ask/answer any remaining questions.

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