Piping Plover, Atlantic Coast Population
Northeast Region

Lesson Plans

Prepared by Barbara A. Beers for the New England Field Office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Edited by Susi von Oettingen and Linda Morse, New England Field Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Concord, New Hampshire, 1993.


Age: fifth through seventh grade students

To educate students about the piping plover, specifically with regard to the following areas:

  1. habitat needs
  2. behavior and general characteristics
  3. response to human activity
  4. threats to the species
  5. ways to protect

Upon completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. describe the life history of the piping plover
  2. locate suitable plover nesting habitat
  3. explain how human activity has adversely this species
  4. identify efforts to protect the piping plover

Contents of Plans

There are three major components to this lesson plan program. Read through each activity before beginning.
  1. Plover Survival: A Simulation Game
    Students are introduced to the piping plover and threats to its survival through group simulation game. (Overview provided with the activity.)

  2. Slide Program (online)
    This provides students with a visual image of the piping plover and threats to its survival.

  3. Nest Construction and Area Management
    Students learn about camouflage, by designing eggs and model birds; nest construction for ground nesting shorebirds; and management protection plans. (Overview provided with the activity.)

Additional Information and Resources

Lesson Plans Overview

These lesson plans are designed to actively engage students in learning about the piping plover. The plans involve a simulation game in which students simulate the feeding behavior of the birds and explore factors that disturb both the feeding and nesting of the plover. The plans also include an area management activity in which the students construct a nest for a fictitious ground-nesting bird that might theoretically live on the school property. They then create models of this bird and its eggs and finally, develop and carry out a management plan to protect the nest area. In addition, the plans include an online slide presentation. The slides focus on piping plovers, their habitat and the many factors that threaten their survival. The entire program utilizes and develops skills in cooperative learning and creative problem solving.

To familiarize yourself with the plover please read the Overview of Biology and Threats. Also, please read through the entire program before beginning in order to get a feel for how each activity leads into the next.

Threatened vs. Endangered
The Atlantic Coast piping plover is listed as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act, and it receives most of the same legal protection it would if it were listed as endangered. The difference is that threatened means extinction is less imminent. Threatened means we still have time to take action. Recovery efforts are aimed primarily at protecting the plovers’ breeding habitat to help prevent the plover population from dwindling further, which would necessitate reclassifying the species as endangered.

Program Timing

Day 1:
  1. Introduce the piping plover
  2. Plover survival: A Simulation Game.
    The is divided into five parts. Together, they will take longer than a regular class period. Parts 4 and 5 included as optional activities. Or, you may choose to do the slide program before the simulation game.

Day 2:

  1. Piping Plover Slide Program
    Students can view the program in small groups at computer work stations that are connected to the Internet. Or it can be presented to the whole class at once if a computer projector is available.
  2. Nest Construction and Area Management Activity.
    Select site and construct nests.

Day 3:

Day 4:

    Nest Construction & Area Management Activity.
    Students develop and implement management plan. (Two, three or more days are spent on other activities while students monitor areas being managed for protection.)

Day 5:


Last updated: March 21, 2012
All images by FWS unless otherwise noted.