Animals and climate change | BCHydro Power Smart for Schools

Animal spotlight

How does climate change affect animals and how can you help?

Activity Image
1 hour
Group work


Introduce animals affected by climate change with a slideshow. In a jigsaw activity, students learn about one animal and share in small groups. As a class, brainstorm ways to help animals and reduce our impact on climate change.


What you'll need

  • “Animal spotlight” slideshow
  • Digital projector and screen
  • "Animal spotlight backgrounders" handout, approximately six copies of each animal 
  • Chart paper and markers (optional)

  1. Display the “Animal spotlight” slideshow.
    • Slide 2: Has anyone heard of climate change? What do you know about it? Climate change means that weather patterns are changing. The temperature of the earth is warming up and it’s causing ice to melt, more intense storms, droughts, forest fires and floods. 
    • Slides 3 and 4: Animals can be impacted by climate change when the food they eat, and the places they live, are affected by hotter temperatures, floods, storms and forest fires. 
    • Slide 5: Indigenous Peoples believe everything is connected. What happens to one living thing affects many living things. Let’s learn more about some animals impacted by climate change and how we can help them. 
    • Slides 6 to 9: Introduce the animals (polar bears, salmon, caribou and orcas). Explain there are many animals affected by climate change, these are just a few examples.

Animal spotlight jigsaw 

  1. Explain the jigsaw activity:
    • Divide the class into even groups (approximately four groups of six). 
    • Assign an animal to each group and give everyone in the group the relevant backgrounder from the "Animal spotlight backgrounders" handout. 
    • In their group, students take turns reading the sections out loud to learn more about their animal. They should be ready to share an example of their animal in a food chain and how their animal is affected by climate change when they move into their new groups.
    • Create new groups with each animal represented. Each new group should have someone who had salmon, orca, caribou and polar bear in their first group.
    • In their new groups, students take turns sharing an example of their animal in a food chain and how it’s affected by climate change.
  2. Give students time to complete the jigsaw activity. As a class, have a few students share:  
    • Something new they learned
    • Examples of Indigenous Peoples’ connections to their animal

What can we do to help?

  1. In their groups, students brainstorm ideas of ways to help animals affected by climate change. Optional: Provide each group with chart paper and markers to record their ideas. Some ideas may include:
    • Protect habitat and help clean up litter
    • Turn off the tap when brushing teeth to save water
    • Learn about the animals and climate change
    • Raise money for organizations working to protect animals
  2. Explain that climate change is happening because people burn oil, coal and natural gas for energy. We can reduce climate change to help animals by using less energy. Some examples include:
    • Walk or bike when possible instead of using a car 
    • Put on a sweater instead of turning up the heat
    • Take shorter showers or have smaller baths
    • Use only what you need and try not to waste (e.g., turn off the lights when leaving a room)
    • Plant trees
  3. There are so many ways to help animals and their habitat. Encourage students to take action every day to help care for the environment.

Modify or extend this activity

  • Students can research a new animal that is affected by climate change or one of the animals from the backgrounders to learn more about it. Have them share their learning through a presentation, poster, slideshow or video.
  • Learn more about ways to help the environment. Invite an Indigenous elder or Knowledge Keeper to come to the class and talk about their connection to place and ways to care for the animals. 
  • Students can create pledges or posters about ways they can help animals and the environment. Create a bulletin board or video to share the ideas.

Curriculum Fit

Grade 3 Science 

Big idea

  • Living things are diverse, can be grouped, and interact with their ecosystems. 


  • Biodiversity in the local environment
  • The knowledge of local First Peoples of ecosystems 
  • Energy is needed for life 

Curricular competencies

  • Make simple inferences based on their results and prior knowledge
  • Identify some simple environmental implications of their and others’ actions
Applying and innovating
  • Transfer and apply learning to new situations

Grade 3 Social Studies


  • Relationship between humans and their environment

Curricular competencies

  • Recognize the causes and consequences of events, decisions or developments

Core competencies

Social awareness and responsibility
  • Contributing and caring for the environment
  • Communicating and collaborating

Teaching Notes

Food chains and food webs

All living things get their energy from the food they eat. Plants use the sun’s energy to make their food. Some of this energy is passed along to animals when they eat plants. Herbivores are animals that eat only plants, such as rabbits or deer. Carnivores are animals that eat other animals for their food and energy, such as cougars, eagles or orcas. Omnivores eat both plants and animals, such as bears and humans.

A food chain shows a simple example of how living things get energy from other living things. 

A food web shows how food chains are linked and how all living things are interconnected. This means all things are related to and interact with each other in the environment. 

Indigenous Peoples’ perspectives

Embedded within Indigenous Peoples’ perspectives is the idea of interconnectedness and responsibility for caring for the water, land, plants and animals, and using only what is needed. Animals are an important part of Indigenous Peoples’ knowledge, traditions, ways of life, culture and survival.    

Climate change in B.C.

B.C.’s climate is changing and becoming warmer and wetter. Stronger storms, more rain and drier summers have led to forest fires and floods in recent years. Animals are affected as snowfall decreases and there are longer fire seasons. 

By learning about animals affected by climate change, students better understand their responsibility to protect nature. The end of the activity should focus on hope and our collective action to care for animals and the environment.


  • Assess students’ understanding of how animals interact with their ecosystem in a food chain and are affected by climate change in the jigsaw activity.
  • Assess students’ understanding of how our actions and decisions affect animals and the environment during their sharing of ways to help animals and to use less energy. 
  • Assess students’ ability to work together and present information in their jigsaw groups.


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