Critter Cams Provide Students With an Opportunity to See Wildlife Live

It has been a long winter here in Maine, but soon we will start to hear spring peepers in the evening. That sound is a sure sign that other animals are coming out of hibernation and new animals are being born. If you would like your students to see some baby animals in action, take a look at the Wildlife Center of Virginia's Critter Cams. Critter Cams offers live look-ins at black bear yearlings, horned owls, and a bald eagle.

Another opportunity to view live webcams of animals is found through the National Zoo app for Windows 8. The National Zoo app features live webcam feeds of panda bears, lions and their cubs, tigers, cheetahs, and fish. Because these are live webcams sometimes you'll see the animals and sometimes you won't. If the webcam feed isn't showing the animals when you're viewing it you can switch to the gallery of still imagery.

Explore.org and Wild Earth offer live webcam feeds featuring animals in nature. Both of those resources are included in 7 Sites for Helping Students Learn About Wildlife.

7 Sites for Helping Students Learn About Wildlife

Earth Day is coming up next week on April 22nd. This week before Earth Day is a good time for lessons about the wildlife that can benefit from the conservation efforts promoted through Earth Day. Here are some of my favorite sites and apps for helping students learn about wildlife.

Arkive.org offers an extensive collection of videos and images of plants and animals. The videos and images are cataloged according to animal, plant, eco-region, and geo-political region. You can navigate the galleries by selecting one of the broad categories then choosing a subject within that broad category. For example, choose the Antarctica eco-region and then you can explore all of the images and videos about plants and animals found in that eco-region. Videos on Arkive can be downloaded to for your classroom use. Arkive offers a dozen online games for kids. The games collection is a mix of quiz games and problem solving games. One of the games that I tried out is Animal Survival that required me to keep a Sand Lizard alive by correctly answering questions about Sand Lizards' daily lives.

Polar Bears International has some lesson plans for teaching about climate change, ecotourism, and conservation. You will also find links to a slideshow on Polar Bears and nice PDF about Polar Bears that contains an educational game. And if you would like to show videos of polar bears to your students, Explore.org has polar bear footage that you can watch here.

WWF Together features interactive stories about endangered animals around the world. Each of the interactive stories includes beautiful images and videos, facts about the animals and their habitats, and the threats to each of the animals. The animals currently featured in the app are pandas, marine turtles, elephants, tigers, polar bears, bison, whales, gorillas, rhinos, and snow leopards. Stories about sharks and jaguars are slated for addition to the app later this year.

Explore.org produces and hosts high-quality documentary films and photographs. The films and images focus on exploring the world and the work of non-profit organizations around the world. The films and images are organized by location and by charitable and or environmental cause. Explore.org is funded in part by the Annenburg Foundation. Part of the video gallery includes live webcam feeds of animals in their habits as well as recorded videos. Explore.org offers a lesson plan section for teachers. Not all lesson plans are appropriate for all grades and the lesson plans are labeled accordingly. All of the lesson plans are based upon videos hosted by Explore.

Wild Earth is a site that has organized more than three dozen live webcam feeds of animals. While watching the video feeds, registered users can chat with each other about what they're seeing. If the video feed is not live when you visit the website, you can choose from any number of recorded videos.

WWF Wildfinder is an interactive map through which you can see the distribution of more than 26,000 animals around the world. You can browse the map, search by region and ecosystem, or search for a specific animal. When you find an animal on the map you can open a tab of information about its habitat, whether or not its population is threatened, and view pictures of the animal.

NOAA's Games Planet Arcade offers twenty-five educational games for young students. The games are intended to help students learn about oceans, wildlife, and weather. Twenty of the games address topics related to marine life. While the games are not terribly complex or fancy, they do offer some solid information for young students. For example, the Humpback Whale Migration game isn't much more than a board game that provides students with information about Humpback whales. As students move across the board they are stopped at spaces offering facts about the annual migrations of Humpback whales. Sea Turtles and the Quest to Nest is one of the headline games of NOAA's Games Planet Arcade. The object of the game is to help a sea turtle avoid common obstacles on while navigating the ocean and the beach before laying her eggs and returning to the sea. About half of the games are hosted on NOAA's website and the others are linked to the websites of PBS, National Geographic or the Environmental Protection Agency.

Web Rangers Offers a Fun Way to Learn About U.S. National Parks

Web Rangers offers seven categories of games about different subjects related to the National Parks. The game categories are people, animals, parks, science, history, nature, and puzzles. Each category contains games of varying difficulty rated from easy to difficult. Some of the game topics include dendrochronology, animal tracking, animal identification, fire fighting, and map reading.

Students can play Web Rangers games as visitors or as registered users. Registered users can track their progress and earn virtual rewards. Registered users can also create their own customized virtual ranger stations.

Applications for Education
Web Rangers could be a great way for students to learn about all of the things that National Parks contain. The games also introduce players to the job functions of Park Rangers. In that regard, the game could be a "career exploration" activity of sorts. You might also use the games in conjunction with some of the National Parks system's lesson plans.

A Bunch of Lessons About Bears

From the department of "yes, Richard lives in a rural area," yesterday afternoon as I was driving home from the bank a young black bear ran right in front my truck. (My truck did not hit the bear and it ran away before I could get a good picture). In the past I've shared resources about Polar Bears, Black Bears, Brown Bears, and Panda Bears, but I've never put all of those resources in one place until now.

The Wildlife Research Foundation's Meet Our Bears website features a live bear den webcam and archived videos about Maine's Black Bears. In addition to the videos, the website offers some basic information about the lives of Black Bears. Hopefully, in the future there will be more educational content added to the website. For now though the site is a good place to see some bears in their natural habitats. And from the "don't try this at home" department, here is a video of the researchers checking on a bear in her den. The Wildlife Research Foundation also has a video of a bear giving birth to twin cubs.


The August 2011 issue of National Geographic magazine featured a cover story about the "Spirit Bears" of British Columbia. "Spirit Bear" refers to the Black Bears that are white in color due to a recessive trait called Kermodism. As always the National Geographic website has some neat resources to support the main article. One of the online resources for the Spirit Bear article is a Punnett Square that explains how two black Black Bears can produce a white Black Bear.

The National Zoo app for Windows 8 features live webcam feeds of panda bears, lions and their cubs, tigers, cheetahs, and fish. Because these are live webcams sometimes you'll see the animals and sometimes you won't. If the webcam feed isn't showing the animals when you're viewing it you can switch to the gallery of still imagery.

Bear Tracker is a feature of the Polar Bears International website. The Bear Tracker plots the travels of collared polar bears in Hudson Bay and the Beaufort Sea north of Alaska. You can view the travel paths of one or all of the bears on each map. The map also offers play the travel paths recorded over time.

Polar Bears International has some lesson plans for teaching about climate change, ecotourism, and conservation. You will also find links to a slideshow on Polar Bears and nice PDF about Polar Bears that contains an educational game. And if you would like to show videos of polar bears to your students, Explore.org has polar bear footage that you can watch here.

WWF Together features interactive stories about endangered animals around the world. Each of the interactive stories includes beautiful images and videos, facts about the animals and their habitats, and the threats to each of the animals. The animals currently featured in the app are pandas, marine turtles, elephants, tigers, polar bears, bison, whales, gorillas, rhinos, and snow leopards. Stories about sharks and jaguars are slated for addition to the app later this year.

WWF Together – A Beautiful iPad App About Endangered Animals

WWF Together is a wonderful, free iPad app that I have featured on iPad Apps for School in the past. I installed the update for it over the weekend and found myself exploring the app all over again. It's too good not to share with as many people as possible.

WWF Together features ten interactive stories about endangered animals around the world. Each of the interactive stories includes beautiful images and videos, facts about the animals and their habitats, and the threats to each of the animals. The animals currently featured in the app are pandas, marine turtles, elephants, tigers, polar bears, bison, whales, gorillas, rhinos, and snow leopards. Stories about sharks and jaguars are slated for addition to the app later this year.

Applications for Education
Students can explore the WWF Together app in a couple of ways. Students can choose an animal by selecting it from the menu that unfolds when the origami polar bear is tapped. Alternatively, students can find animals by spinning a globe in the app and tapping on the blue dots that represent the locations of animals. If students have location services enabled on their iPads they can quickly learn how far the animals are from where they are using their iPads.