A Golden Plover at Ebb Tide

Theme: Natural History

Author: Loris J. Chen
Science Teacher
Annette Boyd
Reading Teacher
Melissa Serieka
Student Teacher
North Arlington Middle School

Subject Areas
Science, Language Arts

Two 42-minute class periods


Reading comprehension, writing a character sketch, vocabulary development

Charting the Course
This activity focuses on the journey and life of a single bird during its migration that brings the golden plover to the shores of the Delaware Bay in Southern New Jersey. It is a fictional story about a single bird that addresses some of the perils faced by shorebirds during migration.

Shorebird, migration, and others as determined by students from the story

Correlation to NJ Core Curriculum Content Standards
Science: 5.12 (7)
Language Arts: 3.4 (8,12,15,24)

Students will be able to:

  1. Read a short story and recall facts
  2. Identify and define new vocabulary words
  3. Master character sketches

Copies of A Golden Plover at Ebb Tide (NJ Audubon “NJ at the Crossroads of Migration”)

Copy Me page

Chalk and chalkboard

Index cards


Lined paper

Pen or pencil

Pictures of shorebirds

Making Connections
Students will be able to understand that organisms within an ecosystem can be affected by both natural and human events. The historical connection that exists between the human inhabitants and the animal inhabitants of the Down Jersey region is evident by the continuous reliance of one on the other. This activity places a specific species of bird as the focal point, but presents a concept that may be applied in many other instances, through many other examples.

Read A Golden Plover at Ebb Tide. Identify vocabulary words that may be a challenge for your students.


Warm Up

Ask students what they know about shorebird migration.

The Activity

Day 1— Part 1
Introduce the short story, A Golden Plover at Ebb Tide.

Distribute copies to each student.

Call on students to read each paragraph aloud. Students can finish the last page or two silently.

Discuss student feelings toward the story.

Elaborate on interesting and controversial thoughts that may be brought to the surface.

Distribute the Copy Me page.

Go over the answers to the questions.

Part 2
On the chalkboard, develop a list of words from the story that students need to define.

Break into groups (4-6 students).

Distribute dictionaries and index cards.

Student groups should look up the words and write the word on one index card and the definition on another.

Students can add words if they find more in the story that they need to look up.

Collect the index cards.

Day 2
Break up into groups from Day 1 (4-6 students).

Hand out the index cards so that each group has a set from another group.

Students should match the word cards to the definition cards and check for meaning by referring to the story.

Check groups for accuracy.

Do the wrap-up.

Wrap Up
Give each student a picture of a golden plover. Have each student create a character sketch of the bird. They should include what the bird felt, where he went on his journey, what caused him to die and maybe what they thought throughout the story.


Evaluate student writing pieces for recall of facts, use of vocabulary, expressiveness of feeling, organization, grammar, and spelling.


Do the “Think About It” section.

Please download the PDF for the complete Lesson Plan.