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6-A John James Audubon, American Flamingo, 1838
Tatiana Efremova


Lesson Plan Title: Flamingoes in Danger
Skills Covered: reading, listening, speaking, writing
General Goal(s): Students will develop reading, speaking, listening and writing skills through discussion games and tasks, reflecting on the work of art and sharing opinions. Students will learn the information about the endangered species and programs aimed at preserving wildlife.
Specific Objectives: Students will review and practice the use a range of Conditional II in the meaningful communication, will use vocabulary items related to description of painting and nature. They will write creative stories using the new vocabulary and will watch a video clip prompting a discussion. In addition, they will learn more about contemporary American culture in connection with the idea of a plastic flamingo.
Materials/ Visual Aids: Projector, computer (to present the Power Point Presentation assisting the lesson); internet access to watch a Youtube video online, interactive whiteboard to project images on the screen, paper, pens/pencils.


Activity # 1: Conditional Type II Revision.
Think how you would finish the sentence:
If I were an animal, I would be a….. (tiger, zebra, eagle, etc.) because…..
To help your students accomplish the task you will need to remind them some basic information about Conditional Type II

Conditional 2

Often called the "unreal" conditional because it is used for unreal - impossible or improbable - situations. This conditional provides an imaginary result for a given situation.
Conditional 2 is formed by the use of the Past Simple in the if clause followed by a comma would + verb (base form) in the result clause. You can also put the result clause first without using a comma between the clauses.

If I were an animal, I would be a kangaroo.


I would be a kangaroo if I were an animal.


The verb 'to be', when used in the 2nd conditional, is always conjugated as 'were'.

I would live in Australia if I were a kangaroo.

Encourage the students to provide reasons for their choice based on their habits, lifestyles by asking additional questions, e.g.:

Where would you like to live if you were a lion? What would you like to do at night? Would you like to be the king of the pride?

For younger students it will probably be interesting also to draw the animal they would like to be, which can be done at home either before the class or after it.


Activity #2

Present the painting American Flamingo by John James Audubon. Ask the students what they know about flamingoes.

  • In what area can flamingoes be found?
  • What do you think they feed on?
  • What color are the birds? Does the color change depending on circumstances? What kind of circumstances are these?
  • Are flamingoes in danger now?

Activity #3
Ask the students to find the information about flamingoes in the text.

Flamingos or flamingoes are gregarious  shorebirds. There are four flamingo species in the Americas and two species in the Old World.

Flamingos often stand on one leg, the other tucked beneath the body. The reason for this behavior is not fully understood. Some suggest that the flamingo, like some other animals, has the ability to have half of its body go into a state of sleep, and when one side is rested, the flamingo will swap legs and then let the other half sleep, but this has not been proven. Recent research has indicated that standing on one leg may allow the birds to conserve more body heat, given that they spend a significant amount of time wading in cold water. As well as standing in the water, flamingos may stamp their webbed feet in the mud to stir up food from the bottom.

Young flamingos hatch with grey plumage, but adults range from light pink to bright red due to aqueous bacteria and beta carotene obtained from their food supply. A well-fed, healthy flamingo is more vibrantly coloured and thus a more desirable mate. A white or pale flamingo, however, is usually unhealthy or malnourished. Captive flamingos are a notable exception; many turn a pale pink as they are not fed carotene at levels comparable to the wild. This is changing as more zoos begin to add prawns and other supplements to the diets of their flamingos. Scientists have discovered that flamingos are dying by the thousands along the Great Rift Valley lakes of Kenya and Tanzania.

Taken and adapted from:


Go to Slide #2 and make sure the students properly understand the highlighted words.

Activity # 4 Divide the students into 2 teams and ask them one by one to mime the highlighted words from the texts. The team that quicker guesses more words is the winner.

Activity # 5: Discussing the painting
Ask students

  • What they notice first when they look at this print. It will probably be the size and colour of the flamingo.
  • What is in the background of this print? We find other flamingos, marshes, water.
  • What are the birds doing in this image? They appear to be looking for food.
  • Ask students why they think Audubon painted his subjects life-size rather than just creating smaller pictures of them. He wanted viewers to understand the actual size of these birds and to see the details in their bodies and wings.
  • Why do you think that Audubon positioned the flamingo like this with its neck bent down?

He wished to fit this big bird on the page, to create a pleasing composition, and to show how this tall bird was able to eat food in the water.

Go to Slide # 3
Present John James Audubon portrait and give some facts about his working activity. Does he look like an artist or a scientist?
Born in Haiti and educated in France, John James Audubon (1785-1851) settled permanently at the age of 21. He found occasional employment as a taxidermist, portrait painter, and drawing teacher, while he pursued his "Great Work," Birds of America - a comprehensive artistic record of North American birds. Unlike the way birds were being drawn at the time––as still images––Audubon’s pictures presented them the way they really looked in the wild.
To make Birds of America useful to both professional and amateur ornithologists, Audubon portrayed his subjects at eye level so that their distinctive markings would be clearly visible. 435 plates were sized to accommodate Audubon's depictions of bird specimens.

2) Go to Slide # 4

  • Ask the students what they think the sketches at the top represent. They are rough drawings of the beak and feet. How do we call bird feet like this?
  • Ask students to speculate about why they have been left in the print. Perhaps to give additional information—how the beak looks when it is open, how the foot looks from above; to fill the space at the top so it doesn’t look bare in comparison to the bottom; or to show that the artist observes as carefully as a scientist.
  • Have students explain what makes this print an artwork rather than just a scientific illustration. Students may mention the life-like pose of the bird, the addition of the background, or the beauty of the composition.
  • Ask students if they think this flamingo looks alive or dead.

Students might think its pose and setting make it seem alive. Explain that photography hadn’t been invented yet, and that Audubon was a taxidermist at some point of his life and  had to kill the birds and arrange them in life-like positions so he could take the time necessary to study them in exacting detail.

  • Encourage students to consider why Audubon and other artists were intent on documenting American wildlife at this time in America’s history.

As America was being settled and developed, there was a great interest in science and in learning about American plants and animals. Artists often joined expeditions to explore and document the American continent and its life forms.

Activity # 6     
Go to Slide # 5
Ask how this print of a flamingo is different from the plastic flamingoes that people sometimes place in their yards. Are both types of flamingos art?

Pink plastic flamingos are one of the most famous of lawn ornaments in the United States, along with the garden gnome and other such ornamentation. These official flamingos were sold in pairs, with one standing upright and the other with its head low to the ground, "feeding". Plastic flamingos have become the stereotypical example of lawn kitsch and an icon of pop culture.

Activity #6

Watch a National Geographic video Flamingoes of Bogoria


  1. Do flamingoes live in large flocks? How do we call birds like that?
  2. Are flamingoes beautiful birds?
  3. What kind danger do flamingoes face?
  4. How do ill flamingoes look?
  5. Is it possible to save and protect flamingoes? How?

Go to Slide #6 In groups of three describe the pictures. Use the information of the text and the video.

Activity #1: Reading for information
At home go to site of the campaign Save Flamingoes and answer questions about the organization

  1. What is the campaign about?
  2. What area is mentioned in the petition? Why do flamingoes inhabit this area? Why is it important to preserve it?
  3. Do only flamingoes suffer from the problem with the dam?
  4. Who is running the campaign?
  5. Would you like to sign the petition to support the project? Think up a good slogan for the campaign.

Activity #2: Writing

Imagine that you are a flamingo or any other animal in danger (probably the one you would be if you were an animal) Write a letter to National Geographic Journal appealing to the readers to think about your fate. To express your point, please, use Conditional Type II (which is often used for expressing hidden request) e.g.:
If people cared more about preserving the nature around, we, flamingoes, wouldn’t die of pesticides in the water, etc.

You may use the words from the texts and the following words to help you:

Natural habitat
Captivity (n)
To migrate (v)
Extinct (adj)
Endangered (adj)
Nourishment (n)
Population (n), to populate (v)
Congregation (n)
Flock (n)
To be infected (v)
Climate change

List of References