Migration Analogy

Grade Levels: 4 - 7


This lesson introduces the concept of migration to intermediate students. Students compare the analogy of bird migration being like a tropical vacation. Students will use an analogy to gain understanding of a new concept.

Key Understandings

Analogies and metaphors can make new and unfamiliar concepts more meaningful to students by connecting what they know to what they are learning.


In introducing the concept of migration, use an analogy that likens it to a vacation to a warm climate. Note and discuss some interesting facts about migration: More than one-third of the world's birds migrate; migration allows birds to adapt to changes in the environment, because they go to habitats with more food and better weather for survival; migrating is instinctual and most birds migrate in groups; and because traveling is so strenuous, only the fittest birds survive, allowing the strongest birds to reproduce. Review vocabulary that you would like students to be familiar with and use in the discussion, such as: predation, nocturnal, hazards, diurnal, flyway, migration, raptors, traits, and habitat.

Review the familiar concept of vacationing. Have students discuss trips they have taken to warm climates. Encourage them to discuss the details of travel, such as method of transportation, rest stops, eating habits, and energy levels, including the return trip.

Use the graphic organizer to identify the similar features or characteristics of migration and traveling on vacation. Identify the dissimilar features or where the analogy does not apply. Record these in the graphic organizer. Some questions to ask students: What is the connection between migration and vacationing? What is important to know about a vacation? What is important to know about migration? What are some of the differences between migration and vacationing?

  1. Demonstration

    Use the Analogies graphic organizer to organize thinking about the familiar concept and new concept. Start the discussion and complete at least half of the chart with students as a class. Here is an example of what a completed chart might look like.

  2. Sharing Ideas

    When students have completed the organizer, come together as a class to draw conclusions about the analogy and the overall similarities between the two concepts of migration and vacationing.

  3. Independent Practice

    Have students write journal entries imagining that they are preparing for and traveling to a warm climate. Have them next write a parallel journal entry imagining that they are a bird preparing for and migrating to a warm climate. Then ask students to write a summary paragraph comparing and contrasting the two entries.

  4. Assessment

    Review the new concept, migration, by either having the students write a paragraph of their understanding of the new concept or having them draw general conclusions that refer to the analogy. You may want to use a rubric to assess student writing.

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