Return to the Wild - Evolving perspectives on Canadian wildlife

Lesson plan: Climate change and the barren ground caribou


Grade Level:

Grade 7

Time Required:

One fifty minute computer class, 2nd class or take home assignment.


In this lesson, students will examine the potential effects of climate change on the barren ground caribou population, the migratory routes of the barren ground caribou, and determining what the COSEWIC (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada) status is and how it was determined.

Main Objective

Students will recognize the impact climate change may have on barren ground caribou.

Curriculum Connection

Nunavut currently follows the NWT Social Studies Curriculum for grades 7-9. For grade seven they are also piloting a module called The Impact of Contact.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the lesson, students will be able to:

  • Locate the migratory range of barren ground caribou on a map
  • Identify what the status of the barren ground caribou are according to COSEWIC, what that means, and why
  • Communicate what effects climate change may have on the barren ground caribou




Teacher will inquire what the students know about global warming while collecting brainstormed answers on chart paper.

Lesson Development

Discuss why the polar bear has been used as a symbol for global warming. Ask about other species that might be affected.

With the class, read the Canadian Geographic website article. (see web address #5 above). Locate and shade on their maps the migratory route of the barren ground caribou. Ask what they think the term “special concern” means.

Have students visit the COSEWIC website (see web address #2 above) and search to determine what “special concern” means. Does it match their earlier prediction? Does it make them feel more or less concerned for the caribou?

Students then visit the ClimateChangeNorth website (#3 above) and/or the Greenfacts website (#4 above). Have students put the information about caribou in their own words, in 4-10 sentences.


Assign one of three tasks:

1. A poster highlighting how the barren ground caribou may be affected by climate change, and offer suggestions how to prevent it from happening. Must contain visuals and words.

2. A 5 minute presentation to discuss why barren ground caribou are of “special concern” and why people of Nunavut should be concerned for them. Should have some visuals.

3. Write a letter to the editor of the local newspaper aiming to educate people about barren ground caribou. Let them know of the caribou’s current status and suggest ways that the status might be improved and ways the status could get worse.



As a class, students will share their opinions on and knowledge of global warming.

Lesson Development

Students contribute to discussion.

Students should find Table 5 at the COSEWIC Website and determine what a “special concern” status means.

Students practice paraphrasing and interpreting information.

Students use technology for scientific inquiry.


Students complete projects at home or in a 2nd class. Students opting for a presentation will need time allotted.

Lesson Extension

Begin a mock campaign to have barren ground caribou become the new face of global warming instead of the polar bear.

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