ALEX Lesson Plan


A Dolphin's Tale

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Ginger Boyd
System: Geneva County
School: Slocomb Elementary School
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 35249


A Dolphin's Tale


In this lesson, students will demonstrate echolocation using only their sense of hearing to locate sounds in their environment by playing a game of Marco Polo.  Students will create their own method of echlocation  to communicate with each other.  Students will write a narrative, from the viewpoint of a dolphin, describing how a dolphin uses echolocation to communicate and to locate things in their environment to aid in their survival. 

This lesson results from a collaboration between the Alabama State Department of Education and ASTA.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
ELA2015 (4)
24. Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences. [W.4.3]
a. Orient the reader by establishing a situation and introducing a narrator, characters, or both; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally. [W.4.3a]
b. Use dialogue and description to develop experiences and events or show the responses of characters to situations. [W.4.3b]
c. Use a variety of transitional words and phrases to manage the sequence of events. [W.4.3c]
d. Use concrete words and phrases and sensory details to convey experiences and events precisely. [W.4.3d]
e. Provide a conclusion that follows from the narrated experiences or events. [W.4.3e]
SC2015 (4)
11. Investigate different ways animals receive information through the senses, process that information, and respond to it in different ways (e.g., skunks lifting tails and spraying an odor when threatened, dogs moving ears when reacting to sound, snakes coiling or striking when sensing vibrations).

Local/National Standards:

4-LS1-1 Construct an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction.

Primary Learning Objective(s):

Students will be able to:

1) define echolocation.

2) demonstrate echolocation using only their sense of hearing to locate sounds in their environment through a Marco Polo activity.

3) create their own method of echolocation to communicate with members of their group.

4) write a narrative, from the viewpoint of a dolphin, describing how a dolphin uses echolocation to communicate and to locate things in their environment to aid in their survival.

Additional Learning Objective(s):

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

61 to 90 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

For Marco/Polo Activity:

  • 1 blindfold per student
  • large empty room
  • masking tape to mark paths on the floor
  • rulers (one per group)

Under Attachments:

  • Unusual Animal Senses Identification Cards
  • Dolphin Narrative rubric
  • My Echolocation Sheet rubric

Technology Resources Needed:


For the Students:  Students should have prior knowledge of internal and external structures of animals, animal adaptations, and the senses.

For the Teacher:  The teacher can find more information about echolocation by reading the information at the following link: Echolocation: Communication of Marine Mammals, Bats, and Humans.

  • Teachers will need to prepare the Unusual Animal Senses Identification Cards prior to this lesson. Cut apart the picture and description cards from the Unusual Animal Senses Identification Cards.
  • Teachers will need to prepare before the lesson by taping small straight-line paths on the floor for the kids to follow.  To save time, make multiple paths so a number of students can participate at the same time. Caution students while blindfolded they should walk slowly and be cautious of their surroundings.


Engage:  Pick twelve students and give each one either a picture card or the description card, and have those twelve students stand in the front of the classroom. Each student with a description card will read the information on his/her card aloud to the class and try to make a match with one of the picture cards.  After all of the cards have been correctly matched, facilitate a discussion about how animal senses help animals survive in their environment. Animals use their senses to receive input from their environment so they will know how to respond.  Explain to students that today's lesson will focus on echolocation.  Dolphins and bats have this special sense. Show the video, How Dolphins Echolocate and Imitate.


Explore: Place students into groups of three. Tell groups to take turns blindfolding each other and have the blindfolded student stand at the start of the taped-off path while the other student continues ahead on the path.  For the blindfolded student to determine where to walk, have him/her say "Marco," while another group member responds with "Polo". If he/she pays close attention to where the sound comes from, the blindfolded student should be able to accurately follow the path. After the activity, ask students, "How difficult was it to determine exactly where you were going and how far you had left to get to the end of the path?  Can you think of anything that might have made it any easier?" (Responses could include a walking stick or cane, or someone holding their hand, etc.)

Explain: Remind students dolphins use echolocation for communication as well as to locate things in their environment.  Echolocation is a series of clicks or whistles that dolphins use to communicate.  Show the video, Communicating with Dolphins Using Echolocation. Then distribute the My Echolocation Sheet rubric (one per student).  Tell students they will create their own type of echolocation to communicate with each other instead of speaking with words.  Students will work together in groups.  Each group should create a method of echolocation that is unique to their group.  Can they devise a way to ask the other members of their group for a fish to eat?


Elaborate:  Have students write a narrative, from the viewpoint of a dolphin, describing how a dolphin uses echolocation to communicate and to locate things in their environment to aid in their survival.   Students should use their imaginations and be creative.  Narratives will be posted on the bulletin board to be shared with the class.

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Assessment Strategies

Summative assessment for this lesson will be based on the Dolphin Narrative rubric.

Formative assessment for this lesson will be based on teacher observation and My Echolocation Sheet rubric.


Students may research other animals that use echolocation via the internet and create a poster using Google Drawings to present to post on the classroom bulletin board.


Students who need extra support should be placed in groups with teammates sensitive to the needs of that student.  The teacher may need to more closely supervise groups that contain students who are struggling with the concepts of this lesson.  Students may also be given additional time.

Each area below is a direct link to general teaching strategies/classroom accommodations for students with identified learning and/or behavior problems such as: reading or math performance below grade level; test or classroom assignments/quizzes at a failing level; failure to complete assignments independently; difficulty with short-term memory, abstract concepts, staying on task, or following directions; poor peer interaction or temper tantrums, and other learning or behavior problems.

Presentation of Material Environment
Time Demands Materials
Attention Using Groups and Peers
Assisting the Reluctant Starter Dealing with Inappropriate Behavior
Be sure to check the student's IEP for specific accommodations.