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Pack it Up

Subject: Science/Biology
Theme: Wolf Behavior
Duration: 20 to 30 minutes
Location: Classroom

OBJECTIVE
Students will be able to explain and discuss the concept of the wolf pack and its underlying social structure.

METHOD
Students will form their own "wolf packs" complete with a dominance hierarchy based on teacher provided standards

BACKGROUND
Wolves are social animals that live together in packs. A wolf pack generally consists of a mated pair and their offspring. The average pack ranges in size from 5 to 8 animals, although some packs may have only 2-3 wolves, while others may number more than 20 members. Pack members are arranged in a dominance hierarchy with the dominant male or female (known as the alphas) at the top and other pack members placed in order below them. Each sex has its own hierarchy. The bonds between individual pack members are very strong. The pack structure and strong bonding promote harmony within the pack and lead to a high degree of cooperation among pack members.

MATERIALS
Badge or nametag that shows each studentís position or role within their pack.

PROCEDURE
Begin by discussing the concept of a wolf pack with your pack. Pose questions to the class such as, "What is a wolf pack? How are they organized? What purposes do packs serve?" Introduce the concept of dominance hierarchy or pecking order. Ask the students if they have seen examples of this among their pets or in farm animals. Divide your students into groups, which will become their "packs". Possible ways packs could be organized might include by age, height, grade, birth dates, or in alphabetical order. At a given signal from you, the students will mill around among themselves, sorting each other out according to the given criteria. Once the pack structure has been determined, the students should record or otherwise remember their position within the pack.

EXTENSIONS
Ask the students for ideas as to how they would organize their own packs. Ask them if they notice any parallels in human behavior. Do they belong to a pack of their own (clique, club, team, or other social group)? How do wolves change their position within their pack? How do people change their status?

SOURCE
"Getting to know the Wolf," A Teacherís Guide to the "Wolf Pack" Materials

An adult wolf

 
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