Grade 4

Junior Story – Following John Rae

Based on the story of an explorer named John Rae (Orkney’s greatest unsung heroes) the story arc focuses on exploration & mapping of Canada’s northern communities (broadening the Junior Grades community awareness). The package explores Social Studies as it is related to Science & Technology. John Rae grew up in Scotland near a port where the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) ships picked up fresh water, supplies and crew before making long voyages to North America. He watched his two older brothers join the HBC and travel across the ocean, and he knew he wanted to do the same. Shortly after getting a medical degree, he joined the HBC and sailed to Canada, his new home. For over ten years, Rae worked as a doctor for HBC in Moose Factory, Ontario, and treated both European and Indigenous employees of the company. He was eager to learn from Indigenous peoples how to live off of the land, and became well known for his survival and snowshoeing skills.


4.01 – What’s a Community?

After Reading the story, the students should have a sense of what the basics of a habitat and/or a community are. This will strengthen their collective knowledge.

4.02 – Ecology Treasure Hunt

Being able to see the complexity of the biome around you is key to being able to reduce your footprint. A scavenger hunt will open the student’s eyes to their local surrounding.

4.03 – DIY Ecosystem

Building their own ecosystems, will make the students aware of all that goes into a system and what can go wrong.

4.04 – The Domino Effect

Relating the idea of everything is connected. Use a predesigned food web (preferably one that has several animals) to create a physical food web with blocks or tissue boxes

4.05 – Trading Cards

Creating information cards about species, with their positives and negatives, will help students become more familiar with the potential issues that the plants will face in the story.

4.06 – Survival Game

Having students become part of the basic ecosystem in a game scenario, allows them to see how the balance works, and what happens when the ecology is affected.

4.07 – Biome Board Game

Building a game about the ecosystem forces the students to take in to consideration, all of the things that go into the balance of the ecosystem.

4.08 – Lost in the Barrens

After the students reading read the Farley Mowat novel Lost in the Barrens, they must decide what activities they would like to do that relate to the book and Rae’s journey.

4.09 – Trophic Cascade

The key concept of this unit is about balance. Discussions of how species can restore a balance to a habitat is a important idea to clarify with the students. Rae was particular about keeping close to the Indigenous ways when he went on his expedition.

4.10 – Top 10 Ways

Creating a succinct, colourful, and vibrant display of key information is a great way to show what you know. But, for the students, trying to boil down things to key ideas is an important skill.

4.11 – Wrapping It Up

A summary of all the knowledge collected during this unit is key. Have the students relate their learning to a current event is a great way to foster their global citizenship. Students will create a Crash Course Kids style YouTube video to teach a lesson on human activities or to present the issues in a particular biome and a possible solutionhttp

4.12 – Final Assessment

Students are going to be recreating John Rae’s journey, so they need to do an ecological impact analysis of the areas that they will traverse. Students will use all of the information learned to create a plan for following Rae’s path.