Activities and Lesson Plans

Cover-Wild SideThe Wild Side of the Family

TEKS

Language Arts:
4.2 A, B:  Reading/Vocabulary development
Math:
4.13 B: Probability and Statistics: interpreting data - bar graphs
Science:
4.2 B: Scientific investigation and reasoning: collect data
4.10 A:  Organisms and environments: Adaptations enable survival

Discussion Questions

  • How is domesticated different from wild? What is feral? 
  • How are some ways domesticated dogs and cats act like their wild Texas relatives?
  • What are some ways dogs look like their wild Texas relatives?
  • What are some ways cats look like their wild Texas relatives?
  • What is the difference between inherited and learned behaviors? What are some inherited and learned behaviors of dogs and their wild Texas cousins? Cats and their cousins?
  • How and why did dogs become domesticated?
  • How and why did cats become domesticated?

Activities

What Could It Mean?
Watch your pet or a friend’s pet for a week and take notes about the behaviors you see. Do you see any behaviors that we did not talk about?  If so, what do you think they mean? Which behaviors do you think are inherited? Which ones are learned?
Compare and Contrast
Look at the photos in the “Keep Texas Wild” section of the magazine and compare the kitten to its wild cousins. How do they compare? What are the contrasts? Or, look at the photos and compare the dog to its wild cousins. How do they compare? What are the contrasts?
Same and Different
Work with a partner to make a list of the similarities and differences between the domestication of dogs and cats. What is the same about the domestication of dogs and cats? What is different?
Graph, Growl, and Meow
Use the information below to graph the length of each type of wild feline in Texas (without its tail). Be sure to include the domesticated cat so that you can see how it compares with its wild cousins. OR Use the information in the chart below to graph the length of each type of wild canine in Texas (without its tail). Include both the littlest type of domesticated dog, the Chihuahua, and one of the biggest, the Great Dane, so that you can see how they compare with their wild cousins.
Use this info to make the chart:
FELINES: (body length without tail):
Mountain lion: 56 inches
Bobcat: 36 inches
Jaguarundi: 21 inches
Ocelot: 30 inches
Domesticated cat: 16 inches
CANINES:
Coyote: 38 inches
Red fox: 27 inches
Swift fox: 17 inches
Gray fox: 24 inches
Domesticated dog: Chihuahua – 8 inches to Great Dane 57 inches

EXTENSIONS

Climbing Coyotes
Investigate the reasons why coyote populations are increasing in Texas. Present your findings to your class.
Become an Expert
Choose one of Texas’ wild cats or canines and outline its life from birth to old age. Include what it eats, how big it is, how it looks, and how it behaves at each stage of its life. Learn as many details as you can so that you become an expert on this animal. Don’t forget to discuss inherited and learned behaviors!
Tail Talk
Domesticated and wild cats use their tails to communicate. Check out what they’re saying by visiting www.xmission.com/~emailbox/tailtalk.htm then make a poster showing how cats talk with their tails.
Canine Communication
Domesticated and wild dogs communicate with each other in similar ways. Visit http://knol.google.com/k/canine-science-how-dogs-communicate#Body_Talk(3A)_Physical_Language to learn more. Then, make a poster that shows canines communicating.
Pick a Puppy
The American Kennel Club recognizes 400 different breeds of domesticated dogs. Choose one and learn all about it. Visit the “Breeds” page on their website. http://www.akc.org/breeds/
Choose a Cat
The Cat Fanciers’ Association recognizes 40 different breeds of domesticated cats. Choose one and learn all about it. Visit “Discover the Breeds and Colors” link on their website. http://kids.cfa.org/

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