Friday, August 12

Studying Pandas with 'The Year of the Panda'

While most of our unit studies are for upper grades, this one is geared toward younger students.  That said, it's still a great little story that would be a wonderful read aloud for the entire family!

The giant panda, known by its black and white coat and round little body, is native to China.  The Latin name is Ailuropoda melanoleuca, and in Chinese it is: 大熊猫.  

Pandas eat any of twenty-five bamboo species in the wild, but only a few bamboo species are widespread at the high altitudes pandas now inhabit.  Bamboo leaves contain the highest protein levels; stems have less.  Because of how the bamboo life cycle works, the giant panda must have at least two different species available to avoid starvation.  In the wild, it eats primarily bamboo shoots and leaves, but very occasionally eats meat in the form of birds, rodents, or carrion.  In captivity, it might also eat honey, eggs, fish, yams, oranges, or bananas.

The giant panda lives in a few mountain ranges in central China, mainly in Sichuan, but also in neighboring Shaanxi and Gansu.  As a result of farming, deforestation, and other development, the giant panda has been driven out of the lowland areas where it once lived, and it now relies on conservation efforts to keep it alive.  It has been an endangered species for a long time, but in 2016 was reclassified as 'vulnerable.'  This is because people worked hard to make sure pandas didn't become extinct.


  • The Year of the Panda
    • Daxiong mao is rare and mysterious, like a god, living in the midst of the mountains.Strange things are happening on Lu Yi's farm. First, some men from the Chinese government ask Lu Yi's father to sell the property that has belonged to the family for generations. Then a giant panda appears in a neighbor's field, A rare occurrence, given the farm's distance from the high-mountain bamboo forests that pandas inhabit.Lu Yi has a feeling that the two mysteries are somehow connected. And before long, an orphaned baby panda he finds in the' woods provides an answer. As the boy nurses the helpless animal back to health, he begins an adventure that may, well change his entire future.


Make / Do

  • bear
  • bamboo
  • China
  • endangered
  • zoo
  • panda
  • habitat
  • omnivores
  • adaptations
  • ecosystem
  • reserve
  • daxiong mao
  • Society does not have the resources to save every species from extinction.  How should we decide which species to preserve?
  • Should we try to preserve as many species as possible, or focus on whole ecosystems?

Boost this unit study with more about China...

Got an animal lover?  

Pick up Zoo Studies!  Sixteen different units focus on fourteen different animals, plus classification / taxonomy and animal adaptations.  Activities include : reading, writing, research, online learning, videos, crafts, and more!  

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