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Hanging On

Activity Information:

Grade Appropriate Level: Upper Intermediate/Secondary
Duration: Several class periods
Materials: Handouts of Hanging On by Simon Elegant Balikpapan; Time Asia News, 2001 (enclosed), 2 large chart papers, 2 jumbo markers, access to Internet, notebooks, journal paper, supplies to create a visual aid


​The purpose of these activities is to provide students with extended opportunities to become familiar with different threatened, or endangered species and to further investigate the impacts of animal extinction. In addition, students will develop critical thinking and persuasive writing skills through a thoughtful analysis of animal endangerment and human intervention impacts.

Prescribed Learning Outcomes:

  • Evaluate how major natural events and human activity can affect local and global environments and climate change

  • Identify a variety of local animal species and their habitat requirements

  • Describe factors affecting local animal populations and behaviours

  • Demonstrate awareness of the social and economic value of forest animals

  • Locate, access and select appropriate information from a variety of resources and consider the quality, currency and accuracy of each source

  • Create communications for an increasing range of audiences and purposes

  • Create academic, technical and personal communication, including research and technical reports and oral presentations

  • Adapt their oral presentations and discussions to best suit audiences and styles

Orangutan - Hanging on.png
  • Create a variety of communications using different tones and voices to evoke emotions, influence, persuade, and entertain

Introductory Activity:

HELPING OR HINDERING the Survival of Endangered Species is a warm-up activity that will help your class to think critically about the state of endangered animals. Students will analyze and compare factors that help or hinder their survival.


Divide the class in half and, ensuring the group has appropriate room for discussion, provide each with an enlarged card that read HELPING or HINDERING. (Click here to download the cards displayed below).

Hanging on - Helping card
Hanging on - Hindering card
  • Direct the groups to consider the card in the context of endangered species. Allow about 15 minutes to have them brainstorm factors that help or hinder the survival of endangered species in general, or a certain species in particular. For example: poaching, hunting, conservation effort.

  • Each group should log their ideas in point form on large chart paper provided by the teacher. Aim for 6-10 factors per chart.


  • Next, juxtapose the charts on a wall or chalkboard for the class to view.


  • Invite a spokesperson from each group to read their responses aloud to class and expand on their points where necessary.


  • Ask the class if there are other factors they’d like to add to the HELPING or HINDERING chart. Then, lead a brief discussion about the information collected. Do the students agree or disagree with what they’ve read? How do they feel after reading these factors? What are their predictions for the future of endangered species? What could they do to help?


Students can be invited to record their thoughts in a journal that they keep during this study about endangered species. This information may assist them in completing extension assignments provided.

Suggested Instructional Strategies:

Activity A

  • Prior to this activity, students should be introduced to key vocabulary that will be explored later in this study. Post the list of words in the classroom and engage the students in a quick dictionary search of the words to record in their journals, or use the words as part of a spelling assignment. (Click here to download the infographic below).

Hanging on - Vocab list

Activity B – Orangutans in Indonesia:

  • Invite students to pair up and read, Hanging On by S. Balikpapan. (Below). After discussing the article with their partners, students will complete Worksheet A, Hanging On. (Below)


  • Students can write a short journal entry as they reflect on the orangutan dilemma in Indonesia.

Hanging On 

Hanging on Story Preview

Worksheet A Preview:

Hanging on - Worksheet A Preview

Activity C – Research & Persuasive Presentation:

The following activity will require the students to conduct research on a particular endangered or threatened species. Students should utilize the Internet plus school &/or public library as well as resources. A list of helpful websites is listed at the end of this document.


  • The teacher may wish to provide a set list of threatened or endangered species in their area to choose from, or they may wish to permit students to do extra research to find a species from anywhere in the world. (We’ve included links to Canadian, BC and global species lists below). Ensure that every student chooses a different animal to report on to stress the diverse range of animals facing extinction as well as the seriousness of the issue.

  • Students research their animal and collect information in note-form using the following questions as a guideline:


1. What is the common name and scientific name of the species?


2. Describe the physical characteristics of the species.


3. Describe the usual habitat of the species and locate where it has lived in the past and present.


4. Explain the life cycle of the species.


5. What has caused this species to become endangered or threatened? Outline the factors that have caused this. Are the factors related to human or natural impact or both?


6. When was this species declared endangered? And how was it determined that the species should be added to the list? In other words, what justification is there that the animal is nearing extinction?

7. Has this species received any special media attention from conservation, industry or government groups? Describe.


8. What has been done, to date, to help save this species?


9. Can students identify some species that have recovered from the brink of extinction and what measures were taken?

10. After conducting your research, what more do you feel could and should be done to help this situation?

11. Can students name any examples of disastrous efforts of human intervention to protect a species or “manage” an ecosystem?

 12. How did Canada play a valuable role in preserving an endangered species in the famed US Yellowstone Park?


  • Next, the teacher will review the function of persuasive writing with the class. Clarify the purpose of a persuasive piece, which is to convince the reader or audience of the author’s point of view.

  • Students will use their notes to develop a persuasive oral presentation that they will present to the class. The presentation should aim to convince the audience that this species is worth saving and is still possible to save. The speech will offer several ideas for how to improve and expedite the conservation efforts and how to monitor and maintain the species over time.

wolf - hangin on.png

In addition, the speech should include the short-and long-term impacts (ecological, moral, etc.) of the species’ extinction.

  • Students should plan their presentation based on 5-8 minutes in length and use index cards to help them organize their thoughts.

  • If time permits, encourage the students to include a powerful visual aid to supplement their persuasive speech. For example, timelines, graphs, illustrations or pictures.

  • Allow time for students to practice their speeches with a partner prior to presenting to the class.

Suggested Assessment Strategies:

The teacher will create criteria with (or without) the class that will guide the students through each assignment. Evaluation of the activities will be based upon the following: 

  • Participation in class discussions, partner/group activities

  • Evidence of thoughtful reflections and assignments in the journal

  • Thorough and focused research on the endangered species

  • Ability to create and present a powerful, focused and persuasive speech that follows the outlined criteria

Extension Activities:

  • Write a letter to the newspaper or local government about your endangered species and propose some small and large-scale solutions, showing consideration for Indigenous, environmental, economic and social factors.

  • Create large posters that illustrate the species and advocate for their safety. Display them in your school or send them to a suitable location that may help voice your concerns.

  • Create a class book for your school library that includes a full page of information about each endangered species that was researched.

  • Create a large map of the world, country, or province that encapsulates the regions where the species lives. As a combined art activity, highlight the areas where the species currently inhabit. Include a sketch and a few facts about each animal. Display it in the class or in a hallway.

  • Have each student create a special postcard on heavy cardstock that illustrates the species they studied. The illustration/information should depict the animal’s threatened state. The teacher could make colour copies of the cards (reserving a class set) so students can invite others to write their feelings/ideas about this endangered animal on the postcard and send them to an appropriate office or politician who can voice their concerns. 

  • While the seal hunt ban of the 1970s was done in Canada to protect their populations, how has this caused other impacts on the food chain?  Study all the stakeholders and issues. From a UBC study: “Recently, people found that the population of seal pups has decreased precipitously (“An introduction”, n.d.). Hence, the voices that wish to protect seals became louder and as a result, the conflicts between animal welfare organizations and seal hunters became more contentious. The seal hunt is a unique problem, and it seems to be neither right nor wrong, as there are many different views.”  Some are now saying that ban has caused the proliferation of seals who eat all the salmon 

orca - hangin on.png

that the Endangered Southern Resident Orca whales depend on in their diets.  Students should gather that these issues have many views and that “science” is not always a consensus.

  • If you want to show students a good example of how human attempts to manage complex ecological issues can turn into a real catastrophe, make time to show them the “Unnatural History of Cane Toads” on YouTube.  Please note at about the 41 Minute mark of the video, they’ll see a van running over toads.  Watch it first to ensure your kids can handle it!  

    The brief story is that the toads were imported to Australia in the 1930s in a failed attempt to have them eat the ‘cane grubs (beetles)’ that were destroying sugar cane crops farmers and the local economy depended on. The toads, once landed in Australia, ate almost everything but the cane grub, had no natural predator and have since overrun the country. They’re called a pest, an “invasion machine” that created food chain issues by eating native populations. (Good example of human intervention that failed spectacularly.)

Supplemental Materials:

Hanging On 

Hanging on Story Preview

Worksheet A Preview:

Hanging on - Worksheet A Preview

Download the PDF version of

Hanging On Activity below:

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