ecosystems: deer through the seasons

Four Winds Nature Institute
4 Casey Rd. Chittenden, VT 05737
~Teaching Outline~
Focus: White-tailed deer have different requirements for food, water, and shelter through the year.
When we study one animal's needs in the changing seasons, we can see the link between habitat and
survival. (Hands-On Nature pgs. 100-106).
What can we learn about ecosystems by studying white-tailed deer?
Puppet Show: learn about the seasonal changes in habitat of the white-tailed deer.
Show and Tell: examine different parts of a deer’s body and consider how these relate to habitat
and lifestyle.
Slide Show: view the variety of habitats in which deer live and observe their life cycle.
Daily Diet: discover how much food a deer needs to survive the winter.
Population Pressure: understand how food supply limits the size of the deer population.
Eat and Run: experience the benefits of living in a herd for safety from predators.
Habitat Murals: illustrate the seasonal habitat requirements of the white-tailed deer.
Journal Activity: record personal experiences with deer in the natural world.
Upper Grades Challenge – Deer in Winter: use maps to determine location of nearby deer yards.
Daily Diet, Population Pressure, Eat and Run, Oh Deer! (from Project WILD, in Supplementary
Unit Concepts/Ideas:
A. White-tailed deer change habitat according to seasonal change and food availability.
B. A deer’s body is well adapted to its habitat and lifestyle.
C. Availability of adequate food supplies regulates the size of deer populations.
D. Deer live in a group or ‘herd’ that provides some safety from predators.
Unit Vocabulary: White-Tailed Deer, Habitat Requirements, Vernal Pool, Swamp, Thicket,
Forest-Field Edge, Meadow, Deer Yard, Graze, Browse, Vegetarian, Evergreens, Camouflage,
Hoof, Antler, Ruminant, Predator, Prey, Food Supply, Herd
Science Grade Expectations:
Grades PK-K Deer are living animals; they need food and water to survive. Deer live in fields and
forest edges.
Grades 1-2 Deer have a variety of physical features that help them get what they need to grow and
survive in different environments. They depend on plants for food. Deer have a life cycle, during
which they are born, grow, and die.
Grades 3-4 Deer have certain physical and behavioral characteristics that help them to get what
they need to survive in their environment. Deer have different habitat requirements in different
seasons. The transfer of energy through food is necessary for all living organisms. Deer are herbivores; they
eat only plants. Different animals can be sorted into groups using various features to decide which
belong to which group. The details of the life cycle of different animal species are unique though
they have common stages of development.
Grades 5-6 Deer have characteristics that help them find what they need to survive in their
environment and provide for their survival: defense, obtain food, eliminate waste, reproduce. The
kind of food deer eat varies with the seasons. The number and kinds of animals an ecosystem can
support depends on the availability of food, water and other resources. Availability of vital
resources changes seasonally and influences behavioral patterns of a variety of animals.
Science Skills:
A. Active listening and discussion to understand seasonal changes in habitat of the white-tailed
B. Examining different parts of a deer’s body and discussing how each feature is related to
habitat and lifestyle.
C. Measuring how much food a deer needs in winter to stay alive and modeling how food
supply regulates the size of deer populations.
D. Role-playing to understand the benefits of living in a herd for safety.
E. Creating a model on paper using markers, and deer track stamps to demonstrate through an
understanding of seasonal habitat requirements of white-tailed deer.
Vermont Standards: Inquiry 7.1, The Living World 7.13, Universe, Earth and the Environment
7.15, Natural Resources and Agriculture 7.16, Listening 1.13, Questioning 2.1, Sustainability 3.9,
Understanding Place 4.6
New Hampshire Standards: Science Process Skills SPS1, SPS3, SPS4, Life Science LS1, LS2,
LS3, Earth Space Science ESS1, ESS2
Four Winds Nature Institute, 7-08.
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