Animals in Literature

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Over and Under the Pond

A boy and his mom explore the ecosystem of a pond and discover their surroundings. An educational look at the interconnectedness of animals, people, and the environment told through fun text and captivating illustrations.

Why use this book?

  • Highlights how animals, people and the environment are interconnected and how we all depend on everyone doing their part to ensure a healthy coexistence.
  • Showcases the benefits of curiosity in young people, along with the importance of observing one’s surroundings, and the advantages (learning opportunities) that may come from observing animals.

Animal Welfare Considerations:

  • Advise students that while observing wildlife, it is critical to not disturb the animal. Remind students to be respectful by giving the animal space, being quiet and observing from a distance. Never touch or feed wildlife as this can result in injury to the animal and/or person.

Ask your Students:

  • What can we learn from exploring our surroundings?
  • What impact do we have on the wetlands, and other ecosystems?
  • How can we protect our wetlands?
  • What are some ways the animals interacted with their surroundings in the story? Blackbird gathers grass for her nest, many animals eating plants, other animals as part of the food chain, etc.
  • Observing animals is one way to learn more about them. Many animals that live ‘under the pond’ are hard to observe. What are other ways to learn about all animals?
  • What wetland species are found in Alberta?


  1. Over and Under the Alberta Pond – Create your own class version of the story, using wetland species found in Alberta. As a class, make a list of wetland species one would find ‘over and under’ a pond in Alberta. Have students choose an animal from the list to research enough information to create their own page complete with illustrations (similar to how animals are represented on each page of the book). Once students are finished, collect the pages and combine them to make your class version of the story.
  2. Observing Animals – We use observation to learn more about animals and the natural word. As a class, watch the PBS video “Leave it to Beavers” (2:32).
  • Post Video Discussion Questions:
    1. What are some visible characteristics of the beaver?
    2. How do some of the traits help the beaver survive?
    3. What was the beaver doing? Why?
    4. How does the beaver use the habitat to meet their basic needs?
    5. What is the beaver’s relationship with other living and nonliving things? How do these interactions impact the environment?
  • Next, have students observe an animal (insects, local wildlife, or pets) and have them focus on the animal’s physical appearance and behaviours. Using the Observing Animals activity sheet, have students record their observations. Encourage students to share any questions they have about their observations.

Additional Resources Related to Book:

  • Watch the author of the book Kate Messner read the book in this video.
  • Wetlands Alberta has curriculum based resources available for teachers to use.
  • The back of the book provides great information specific to the species mentioned in the story at the back of the book in the ‘About the Animals’ section.

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