What's Going On?

To flee or not to flee

Activity overview

15 mins
Ages 5 – 7 , Ages 7 – 9 , Ages 9 – 11

Science topics:

Animals, including humans , Living things and their habitats

Spark a conversation with this video showing different animals on the move. This activity is great for describing observations and applying ideas in unfamiliar contexts.

Run the activity

1. You’re going to watch a short video. The aim isn't to find right answers, it's to explore ideas and find out what they know.

  • Do they know what might happen based on the image?

2. After you've watched the video, lead a discussion with your class:

  • how do the animals move? 
  • what do you think the animals are doing?
  • why do animals (inlcuding humans) move differently?
  • what have you learned from watching this video?

3. Ask the class to describe what they saw using only one word.

Background science

Animals move to find food including preying on others, to find a mate or suitable habitat or territory or to escape predators. The animals in this video have been selected to show how they move – on two legs or four. Being able to stand on two legs gives an animal an advantage when looking out for danger from predators. A grizzly bear can look around when standing on hind legs but moves on all four. Meerkats live in groups and sentries are responsible for keeping a lookout, standing up on their hind legs to keep watch.

Chickens, penguins, ostriches, greylag geese and flamingos all walk and run but some have other ways to move at speed. Penguins can toboggan on ice as well as walk, but they are at their fastest when swimming. The ostrich is a flightless bird but can sprint up to 43 miles an hour.  Nearly 90,000 greylag geese fly from Iceland to the UK to overwinter each year.

The langur monkey from India walks on two legs, like humans, and uses its arms and hands to balance when needed whereas the white-handed gibbon raises its hands above its head for balance when walking on two legs. It’s more likely to be found in rainforest canopies swinging between trees using all its limbs. For the kangaroo, taking long jumping strides is made easy by its powerful hind legs, large feet and a muscular tail that aids balance. The pangolin's tail also helps it to balance when walking on two legs. Its powerful legs and claws help it to dig termites for food. Despite its scaly appearance, it is, in fact, a mammal.

Take it further

Have a look at three Australian animals and compare them in this odd one out actvity. Perhaps you could investigate how important it is for us to use our arms and hands for balance too - how easy or difficult is it for children to run in a straight line, or walk along a painted line with their arms by their sides?