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Through inquiry, writing, art, and discussion, the Mastodon suitcase provides materials for exploration of the Mastodon. Students will learn what this mammal was, as well as where and how it lived. Terms such as extinction, habitat, and fossil are addressed.


Authentic Bones: pelvic bone, leg bone, tusk, teeth, bone fragment, sinus cavity and sloth vertebrae


Drawings, video - "The Ultimate guide: Mastodons", a map of Crowley's Ridge showing where mastodon bones have been found, and Crowley's Ridge Mastodon - an Educational Booklet.


Display the Mastodon bones and ask the students to guess what type of animal they think they belonged to and why. Have them examine the bones and guess what type of bones they are.

  • (AR Curriculum Frameworks K-4: OV.1.2.7, OV.1.4.9, IR.12.3.1, PS.5.1.1, PS.5.2.1, A.4.K.2)
  • (AR Curriculum Frameworks 5-8: OV.1.7.6, NS.1.5.1, NS.

Display a picture of a Mastodon and have the students write a paragraph about the life of a mastodon. Include what they think it ate, where it lived, when it lived, etc. After the study of the Mastodon, have the students write another paragraph including information that they learned.

  • (AR Curriculum Frameworks K-4: OV.1.3.14, W.5.3.10, W.7.3.2, W.5.1.5, R.10.3.10, NS.1.2.6, NS.1.4.8)
  • (AR Curriculum Frameworks 5-8: W.5.5.7, R.10.5.8)

A mastodon tooth consisted of between 4 and 8 "cones" per tooth. Altogether the mastodon had 12 teeth. How many cones could that be? As they chewed up trees, the pointy part of the teeth became worn down and rounded and finally fell out. Students could compare the mastodon's tooth to one of theirs in terms of size and shape and label the parts (root, cusp, enamel, etc). Mastodon tooth sketch included in the notebook.

  • (AR Curriculum Frameworks K-4: NO.3.4.4, M.13.2.10)
  • (AR Curriculum Frameworks 5-8: NO.3.5.4, M.13.6.2)

Working in small groups or individually, students can design a toothbrush for a mastodon, taking into consideration the particular structure of the creature's teeth in size and patterns. The student design should include dimensions, materials, a scale model (if possible) using available materials, and an explanation why the design would work to keep the mastodon teeth clean.

  • (AR Curriculum Frameworks K-4: A.2.1, A.2.4, A.2.9, LS.2.K.8)
  • (AR Curriculum Frameworks 5-8: A.1.11)

Students could write short stories that relate to the mastodon. The "why" tale is appropriate for younger writers. They can explain WHY the mastodon has some particular trait (a hump on its back, a long nose or trunk, a tail, floppy ears, thick fur, etc.)

  • (AR Curriculum Frameworks K-4: W.5.2.2, W.5.3.2, W.5.3.7)
  • (AR Curriculum Frameworks 5-8: W.7.5.6)

Write a short story about a mastodon, or write an account of having a mastodon at your house for a "sleepover". Work in as many real facts about mastodons as you can.

  • (AR Curriculum Frameworks K-4: W.4.3.8, W.5.3.7, W.5.2.6)
  • (AR Curriculum Frameworks 5-8: W.5.5.3, W.7.5.6)

Write an article for a newspaper that describes the mastodon and give information about its daily life.

  • (AR Curriculum Frameworks K-4: W.4.3.2, W.4.4.3, W.5.4.1)
  • (AR Curriculum Frameworks 5-8: W.4.7.7)

Provide the students with materials in which they can read and learn about mammoths and mastodons. Compare and contrast, discuss similarities and discuss organization of the details that would help others learn about these two creatures. After sufficient time of learning and note taking provide paper for student to create a Venn diagram of the mastodon and mammoth.

  • (AR Curriculum Frameworks K-4: R.10.3.6, R.10.2.7, IR.12.3.6, NA.1.2.1)
  • (AR Curriculum Frameworks 5-8: W.4.8.2)

Research and recreate the habitat in which mastodons lived.

  • (AR Curriculum Frameworks K-4: W.7.3.2, A.2.4, A.2.6)
  • (AR Curriculum Frameworks 5-8: W.4.5.2, W.5.6.5, W.5.5.5, IR.12.5.4, IR.12.5.8)

Write an article for the newspaper on "Why Mastodons went Extinct" using information learned. Do students think short-term catastrophe or long-term environment was the biggest contributor to the demise of the mastodon?

  • (AR Curriculum Frameworks K-4: W.4.4.9, W.5.3.1, W.5.2.1, LS.4.K.1, NS.1.4.11, NS.1.3.7)
  • (AR Curriculum Frameworks 5-8: W.4.7.7, LS.4.6.1, LS.4.8.1)

Fossils with Play-Doh - instructions included in the notebook
Great Interactive self guided website on fossils: http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/education/explorations/tours/fossil/5to8/Intro.html

  • (AR Curriculum Frameworks K-4: OV.3.1.1)

Draw a picture depicting a mastodon in its natural environment. The picture should incorporate all items necessary for the animal to survive. Then write a paragraph to summarize the picture. The paragraph must describe the animal and its environment.

  • (AR Curriculum Frameworks K-4: A.2.1, A.2.4)
  • (AR Curriculum Frameworks 5-8: W.4.5.14, A.2.2)