Educational Resources

Whale Form and Function- Lesson 1
A sei whale made with model magic. A Narwhale made of Model Magic. A Model Magic sperm whale.


Students will identify similarities and differences in specializations of morphology among a variety of cetaceans and will approximate the reasons for these specializations.


  • Visuals depicting a variety of cetaceans (suggestions: blue, gray, sei, sperm, killer, and right whales; and aquatic and oceanic dolphins)
  • information about the feeding habits, behavior, distribution, and body part sizes and shapes (see resource pages)
  • 8.5 x 11 inch white construction paper
  • lined chart paper
  • masking tape
  • pencils and erasers


  1. Distribute packet which includes visuals and information on each whale you will be discussing (see resource pages) to each student.
  2. Using the packets, allow groups of students to make observations of the similarities and differences among whales and to speculate about why the whales may have different specializations. Instruct them to write down their observations, organizing their thoughts by either using two whales and listing their similarities and differences or listing one feature of each whale on pieces of chart paper. In both cases, remember to encourage thought as to why the whales have specializations.
  3. On chart paper hung at the front of the room with headings like shapes and sizes of fins, flippers, body, head, and teeth/baleen, list the different sizes and shapes observed in the whales [see resource pages]. These will serve as your categories. List each whale under one category on each body part chart. Use ideas offered by the students as they review their group charts. Example - killer whale would fit under the category tall and triangular on the fin chart.
  4. Brainstorm with students possible reasons for specializations. Guide them through brainstorming using the lists on chart paper. Explain the specializations of the whales.
  5. Assign each student a whale to sketch. Allow students time to draw and shade the whale they are assigned.
  6. Check sketches for accuracy.
  7. Collect drawings for further use.

Whale Form and Function- Lesson 2
A sei whale made with model magic. A Narwhale made of Model Magic. A Model Magic sperm whale.


  1. Students will make models of the cetacean they have been assigned, in order to further their knowledge of specializations in cetaceans.
  2. Students will form models by rolling a ball of Model Magic into a bullet shape and pulling out and molding appendages. They will then accurately paint these models.


  • packets from lesson one
  • sketches from lesson one
  • Model Magic
  • watercolors
  • paintbrushes
  • water dishes
  • books depicting color illustrations of whales
  1. Distribute sketches from Lesson 1 and review information learned in previous lesson. Display visuals.
  2. Demonstrate how to roll a piece of Model Magic into a bullet shape and pull out flippers, fins, tail, and beak.
  3. Distribute approximately one handful of Model Magic to each student and repeat demonstration if necessary.
  4. Allow students time to sculpt the whale they have been assigned. Circulate among the students to guide them in modeling.
  5. Allow students time to paint the models. Provide the illustrated books as references.
  6. As each student displays his model to the rest of the class, provide an explanation for the whales coloration.
  7. Check models for accuracy.
  8. Collect models and sketches and use them as classroom references in further lessons.