- Social Studies
A baby panda makes his debut at the National Zoo in D.C.
Before reading, ask students to agree or disagree with each of the statements below.
- Pandas are an endangered species.
- The National Zoo is in New York City.
- Pandas can be found in the forests of Asia and Africa.
- Baby pandas weigh about the same as other baby bears when they are born.
- Pandas eat bamboo. Answers will be discussed as part of the Comprehension Check activity below.
Introduce the words in the News Word Box before students read the article. Ask students to define the words and
put them in alphabetical order. (bamboo, China, endangered, habitat, panda)
Read the News
Click for a printable version of this week's news story Zoo-Goers
Ready to Greet Baby Panda.
You might use a variety of approaches
to reading the news:
* Read aloud the news story to students as they follow along.
* Students might first read the news story to themselves; then call on individual students to read the
news aloud for the class.
* Arrange students into small groups. Each student in the group will read a paragraph of the story. As
that student reads, others might underline important information or write a note in the margin of the
story. After each student finishes reading, others in the group might say something -- a comment, a question,
a clarification -- about the text.
More Facts to Share
You might share these additional facts with students after they have read this week's news story.
- Officials at the National Zoo planned a big party to celebrate the naming of the panda, but Tai Shan was not
invited. He and his mother stayed in their den.
- Before putting Tai Shan on display, officials invited small groups of special guests to view the baby panda.
They hoped that would help him get used to having crowds wander by his zoo home.
- The Chinese word for panda is xiongmao, which means giant cat bear.
- Giant pandas have strong jaw muscles; they need them to be able to chew the staple food of their diet -- bamboo.
Bamboo makes up about 99 percent of a wild panda's diet.
- Pandas do not hibernate during the winter. Because they live on bamboo, they don't build up enough fat to allow
them to hibernate.
- Pandas are about the same size as the American black bear.
- Giant pandas might look cute, but they can be as dangerous other types of bears.
- A baby panda is 1/900th the size of its mother.
- In the wild, baby pandas usually stay with their mothers until they are from 1-1/2 to 3 years old.
- A baby panda born at the San Diego Zoo on August 2 was named on November 10. Her name is Su Lin. Her name means
"a little bit of something very cute" in Chinese. That panda was given the same name as the very first panda ever
to be brought to the United States. The first Su Lin arrived at the San Diego Zoo in 1936.
Revisit the Anticipation Guide at the top of this lesson; ask students to respond again to the statements in it.
- Pandas are an endangered species. (true)
- The National Zoo is in New York City. (false, the National Zoo is in Washington, D.C.)
- Pandas can be found in the forests of Africa and Australia. (false, the only place pandas live in the wild
is in China)
- Baby pandas weigh about the same as other baby bears when they are born. (false, at birth pandas are much
smaller than other bears' babies)
- Pandas eat bamboo. (true -- and lots of it!)
You might follow-up that activity with some of these questions:
- What is the new baby panda's name? (Tai Shan)
- What does his name mean in Chinese? (peaceful mountain)
- How many pandas remain in wild in China? (about 1,600 [note: that figure is according to latest estimates])
- At what age are baby pandas given a name? (when they are 100 days old)
- Why will Tai Shan be moved to China when he is about 2 years old? (because his parents are owned by China;
they are on loan to the United States)
Think About the News
Discuss the Think About the News questions that appear on the students' news page.
Geography. Display a map of China. Ask students to identify whether each of the following countries is a
neighbor of China (borders China) or not. If you teach young students, point to each country on the map as you name
it: Afghanistan (no); Bhutan (yes); Burma (yes); India (yes); Iran (no); Japan
(no); Kazakhstan (yes); Laos (yes); Mongolia (yes); Nepal (yes); North Korea (yes);
Pakistan (yes); South Korea (no); Thailand (no).
Literature. Do you know the story of how the panda got his spots? According to a Chinese folktale, there
was once a species of white bear that inhabited the mountains of China. A young girl befriended a white bear cub.
One day the girl saw a leopard attack her friend. She threw a stone at the leopard, so the leopard turned on the girl
and killed her. The bears grieved her death; in their grief, they tore up the earth around them and then wiped their
weeping eyes with their earth-covered paws. From that day on, the white bears had black circles around their eyes.
Read aloud a beautiful retelling of that folktale, The
Legend of the Panda by Linda Granfield. Use the accompanying lesson
plan with the book.
Art. Young children might make a panda
mask or wall hanging from a paper plate or a panda
puppet from a paper bag.
Just for fun. Challenge students to complete the online panda
puzzle or learn what it's like to be a panda
keeper at the National Zoo. Both of those resources are found on the Animal Planet Web site.
Use the Comprehension Check (above) as an assessment. Or have students work on their own (in their journals) or in
their small groups to respond to the Think About the News questions on the news story page or in the Comprehension
Lesson Plan Source
GRADES K - 4
NS.K-4.3 Life Science
NS.K-4.4 Earth and Space Science
GRADES 5 - 8
NS.5-8.3 Life Science
NS.5-8.4 Earth and Space Science
GRADES 9 - 12
NS.9-12.3 Life Science
NS.9-12.4 Earth and Space Science
SOCIAL SCIENCES: Geography
GRADES K - 12
NSS-G.K-12.1 The World in Spatial Terms
NSS-G.K-12.5 Environment and Society
See recent news stories in Education World's News Story of the Week
Article by Gary Hopkins
Copyright © 2005 Education World