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Movement & Play, Organisms: Life and Growth


3rd, 4th, 5th


Science, Biology, Health, World Languages, Spanish


135 minutes

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - Northeast, New Jersey


Google Docs, Google Slides


This lesson plan is licensed under Creative Commons.

Creative Commons License

El Colibrí y el Cambio Climático

Created By Teacher:
Last Updated:
Nov 28, 2022


In this lesson, students learn the importance of migratory hummingbirds and how to help them face the impacts of climate change. 

Step 1 - Inquire: Students listen to a legend about a hummingbird from the Nasca culture in Peru and wonder about the events in the story.

Step 2 - Investigate: Students explore the diversity of hummingbirds in North America and imagine the life of the ruby-throated hummingbird as it faces the impacts of climate change. 

Step 3 - Inspire: Students reflect on efforts to support hummingbirds in Mexico and create an imaginative response of their own.


  • This lesson encourages students to look for hummingbirds in their local environment and feel connected to the natural world and their neighboring country, Mexico.
  • The lesson exposes students to the diversity of Indigenous peoples in the Americas through Indigenous language names for hummingbirds in Mexico and the stories from three different Indigenous cultures.
  • This lesson could connect with a Day of the Dead lesson by beginning with the video of the Aztec legend about the relationship between the cempasúchil flower and the hummingbird.

Additional Prerequisites

  • The main species in this lesson, the ruby-throated hummingbird, is currently abundant. In fact, climate change may extend the range of this species farther north as the climate becomes hotter. Students have a high probability of encountering this hummingbird in New Jersey and thus appreciating its tenacity and beauty.
    • Appreciating the local migratory hummingbird can help students understand the concept of  interdependence within communities and across borders.
    • Understanding interdependence and fomenting cross-cultural cooperation are important aspects of finding solutions to climate change.
    • Other species of hummingbirds, as noted on the poster from CONABIO, are more acutely threatened by climate change. Students can discuss why. For example, the more a hummingbird depends on an endemic species of plant (a plant found only in its region) or a more specific microclimate, the more vulnerable it is to disruption from climate change.
  • Teachers can use this resource from Rutgers to further their understanding of the ruby-throated hummingbird.


  • Teachers can use all the activities in the lesson or choose activities that are most apt for their class.
  • Teachers should preview the videos that tell stories about hummingbirds from the Nasca culture and the Aztec culture. These stories include events that students may find sad or scary. For example, the Aztec story includes the death of a warrior whose soul becomes the hummingbird. Students can talk about how they and the characters feel at different moments.

This lesson teaches students all about hummingbirds. Hummingbirds are important pollinators, and climate change is hurting their habitat. This lesson passed the scientific review process.

Esta lección enseña a los estudiantes todo sobre los colibríes. Los colibríes son polinizadores importantes y el cambio climático está dañando su hábitat. Esta lección pasó el proceso de revisión científica.

This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

  • World Languages
    • Novice Mid
      • 7.1.NM.IPRET.5: Demonstrate comprehension of brief oral and written messages found in short culturally authentic materials on global issues, including climate change.
      • 7.1.NM.IPERS.6: Exchange brief messages with others about climate in the target regions of the world and in one’s own region using memorized and practiced words, phrases, and simple, formulaic sentences.
      • 7.1.NM.PRSNT.6: Name and label tangible cultural products associated with climate change in the target language regions of the world.
  • Teacher introduces vocabulary and key ideas needed to understand the story El Colibrí y la Lluvia, which is based on artwork from the ancient Nasca culture of Peru.
  • Students act out vocabulary and preview the characters.
  • Teacher shows the video El Colibrí y la Lluvia.
    • Teacher returns to scenes in the video as needed to check for comprehension. For example: ¿Dónde está el colibrí? ¿Está feliz o triste? ¿Por qué no hay flores? ¿Necesitan más sol o más lluvia?
    • Students can understand the story through the images and do not need to understand the words of the song.
  • Students ask and answer questions about the characters, plot, and setting, noticing the impact of climate on the story.
  • Teacher connects the Investigate section with student questions from the Inquire section. For example: ¿Hay colibríes en New Jersey? ¿Dónde viven? ¿Cómo son?
  • Students identify México on a map.
  • Teacher shows the video and projects the poster of colibríes from CONABIO (la Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad) de México.
    • Students make observations about the appearance of the hummingbirds, including what the hummingbirds have in common and how the species are different from each other.
    • Teacher points out on the poster the variety of ways to say “hummingbird” in Spanish and in many different Indigenous languages in Mexico.
    • In pairs or as a class, students play “Veo, veo” (I spy) using the hummingbirds on the poster. Students ask 4-6 questions before guessing.
    • If “Veo, veo” is too difficult for students due to language limitations, ask students to pick out a “favorite” hummingbird from the poster and describe the hummingbird in Spanish to a partner. (For example, “Es verde, azul, grande, pequeño, bonito, feo.”)
  • Teacher introduces students to the colibrí de garganta rubí (ruby-throated hummingbird), which lives in New Jersey in the summer and Mexico in the winter. It is the only hummingbird that breeds in the eastern United States.
  • Students reflect on what colibríes need in each habitat home.
  • Students play part 1 of “¡Hábitat!”
    • This game is played like “canasta de frutas,” but the “frutas” are replaced by vocabulary representing natural elements.
    • Each student receives the name of a natural element: el sol, la lluvia, la flor, el árbol, el colibrí.
    • Students sit in chairs in a circle.
    • One student without a chair is in the center.
    • The student in the center calls out an element. For example, “¡El sol!”
    • All the students assigned to that element and the student in the center must change seats.
    • A new student will be left without a chair and stands in the center. That student calls out another element, starting another round of the game.
    • If the student in the center says “¡Hábitat!” all the students must change seats.
  • Students play part 2 of “¡Hábitat!”
    • Students stand in “habitat” groups based on the element assigned to them in the previous game.
    • Teacher assigns students who had “el sol” and “la lluvia” to other parts of the ecosystem, such as “los insectos” or “los seres humanos.”
    • Teacher reads a scenario based on the possible impact of climate change.
    • Students who believe their element is directly impacted by the scenario sit down.
    • Students who believe their element is impacted by the student who sat down, sit down next.
    • Students explain their answers using simple Spanish. For example: No hay árboles, no tengo un nido, etc.
    • Teacher asks ¿Es positivo o negativo el impacto? Explica.
    • Students brainstorm potential ways to help hummingbirds face climate change.

  • Teacher projects the slides of native flowers.
    • Students describe the native New Jersey flowers and speculate about why they are just right for hummingbirds.
    • Students describe the native Mexican flowers and speculate about why they are just right for hummingbirds.
  • Teacher shows this video about mujeres olinizadoras, a group of women in Mexico City dedicated to planting gardens of native plants  for hummingbirds and other pollinators.
    • The video can be shown with or without the audio.
    • Teacher stops the video so students can describe the flowers that attract colibríes.
    • At minute 1:00, students learning numbers read how many participants (598), gardens (608) and plants (31,356) have been part of the program as of May 20, 2022.
  • Teacher reads the Maya legend of the origin of the hummingbird and its role as a messenger.
  • Students imagine the message that the hummingbird gives to people now.
  • Students choose one of the following mini-projects:
    • Students design real or imaginary gardens for the ruby-throated hummingbird.
    • Students draw and cut out hummingbirds and flowers with messages in Spanish to and from the hummingbirds, which can be hung from the ceiling of the classroom.
    • Students watch this video depicting the Aztec legend of the cempasúchil flower and the hummingbird.
      • Students choose a native flower in New Jersey associated with the ruby-throated hummingbird.
      • Students collaborate to illustrate an original legend about the New Jersey flower and the colibrí.

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