This clip comes from the BBC series The Blue Planet which I can’t recommend enough for any armchair naturalist. In the opening scene, we are introduced to “the biggest animal that has ever lived on our planet.” The aim of this lesson plan is for students to acquire the language necessary for describing size, weight, height, speed, length, width, etc, while learning about the blue whale.
- Language level: Elementary – upper intermediate (A1 – B2)
- Learner type: Young learners; Teens; Adults; CLIL
- Time: 40 minutes + Follow ups
- Activity: Dictation; Listening
- Topic: Science
- Language: Adjectives and nouns of measurement (as big as; the size of, etc)
- Materials: Video; Worksheets; Slideshow (optional)
Lesson plan outline
- Give out copies of the three puzzles (included in the PDF download) and ask students to complete them.
- Let students compare their answers before feedback. Make sure you drill pronunciation of any potentially problematic words. Note that all answers are included in the PDF download.
- Go to this page at Wikimedia Commons. Tell your students that they are going to hear an Atlantic recording artist. Play any of the selected audio files and ask students if they can identify the singer.
- After a bit of guessing, tell your students that you are going to show them a video in which they will see the singer. Play the clip but keep the sound low so that attention is not drawn to the narrator’s voice. Note that if you turn the sound down completely, you will miss out on the music.
- While the clip is playing, ask your students the following questions:
- Dictate the following sentences:
- Let your students compare their dictated sentences with each other. Make sure they have written them correctly.
- Tell students that one of the sentences is not true. Ask them to guess which one it is and compare ideas.
- Play the video clip. Students should then realise that the last sentence (Blue whales breed in the Arctic) is the incorrect one.
- The Blue Planet, the series from which the clip is taken, was made in 2001. For homework, get your students to find out if marine biologists now know where the blue whale goes to breed and why this information is important.
* Does anyone know what animal this is?
* What do you know about it?
* Has anyone ever seen a whale (where, when, etc)?
* Does anyone know about the series from which the clip is taken?
a. The blue whale is the biggest animal that has ever lived on our planet.
b. It is 30 meters long.
c. It weighs over 200 tonnes.
d. Its tongue weighs as much as an elephant.
e. Its heart is the size of a car.
f. Some of its blood vessels are so wide that you could swim through them.
g. Its tail is the width of a small aircraft’s wings.
h. It is one of the fastest animals in the sea.
i. A single blue whale can consume 40 million krill in one day (a crustacean which measures just a few centimetres in length).
k. Blue whales breed in the Arctic.
Variations and follow ups
In the PDF download, there are a number of variations and follow ups to this activity. Some of these involve student-created flashcards.
The images on the sentence reconstruction slideshow were made using Wordle.net. Here are the links to the original images:
Blue whale image comes from here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Blue_Whale_001_body_bw.jpg