The Mystery of the Missing Hummingbirds

University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR)
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Experiment/Lab Activity , Informative Text , Lesson/Lesson Plan
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.



In this science-based storybook, The Mystery of the Missing Hummingbirds, students read about the reason for seasonal migration patterns of hummingbirds.  Students Anita, Simon and Dennis and the rest of Ms. Patel's class have been making observations of hummingbirds and then one day they are gone.  They research where the hummingbirds have gone and when they might return.  While investigating the hummingbirds, the main characters are exposed to the scientific process. The book has the story section, a teacher's notes section and a glossary.  Beside the storybook, 3 hands-on learning activities with instructional supports and 1 Teacher's Implementation Guide are also available.   The storybook is 32 pages long.  The book is available in English, German, Spanish, Chinese and French.  It can be downloaded as an e-file or in print form.  

This storybook is one of five storybooks in the Elementary GLOBE  unit.  The GLOBE Program is a hands-on international education and science program that joins students, educators, and scientists from around the world in studying Earth system science (ESS). The core objectives of GLOBE are to improve science education, enhance environmental awareness, and increase understanding of Earth as a system. For more information, please visit

Intended Audience

Educator and learner
Educational Level
  • Early Elementary
  • Grade 1
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

1-ESS1-2 Make observations at different times of year to relate the amount of daylight to the time of year.

Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on relative comparisons of the amount of daylight in the winter to the amount in the spring or fall.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to relative amounts of daylight, not quantifying the hours or time of daylight.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
Students read a book about the main characters making observations of hummingbirds that are in the school garden. When the hummingbirds disappear, the questions and inquiry learning begin. At the end of the book, the hummingbird's return. Students use what they have learned in the book to make observations of their school property. The observations are intended to take place all year. An emphasis is made on recording "big picture" observations and "zoomed in" observations. It is suggested that the teacher add an activity that helps students track and compare the amount of sunlight throughout the year. This will allow them to look for and define patterns of sunlight. It is inferred in the activity but it is not direct enough for a 1st grade student. This can be done by using information from a sunrise and sunset tracking website for area. Tracking the sunlight in the area of your school and the area that the hummingbirds are migrating to is also a suggestion. Reading the book, adding the tracking of sunshine, completing the suggested observations and recording information in a science notebook ensures that the Performance Expectation is met.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Use the three learning activities provided on the website. Encourage students to make "big picture" observations and "zoomed in" observations of the school yard throughout the year. Record the observations in a student notebook and compare the observations with other classmates. Students should ask questions about their schoolyards like Anita and her class made about the hummingbirds in their schoolyard. In so doing, the Practice will be fully reached.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
This storybook completely addresses the Disciplinary Core Idea as it tracks hummingbirds' behavior throughout a year. The seasonal changes affect the ruby-throated hummingbird so much that in one year it migrates from one hemisphere to another. The main characters observe, describe and predict the movement of the hummingbird throughout the story.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: This lesson addresses all dimensions of the NGSS. The students reads a storybook in which the main characters observe, describe and predict the behavior of humming birds throughout a whole year in an effort to notice patterns. If the students are given the same opportunity at their school, they will also meet the NGSS dimensions. The students can track trees and plants, birds at a bird feeder, or other organisms.

  • Instructional Supports: Due to the fact that this storybook and activities are available in many languages it allows ELA learners easy access to this lesson. The main characters of the story are racially diverse which also allows access points for all students. The activities that are suggested provide science notebook templates and data collection templates too.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: The lesson suggests that students use a notebook and participate in class discussions which will allow a teacher to document student learning. It does not provide a written assessment or rubric.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: The book is available in printed and in ebook editions. There are websites that will read the book to the students. There are no other suggestions. To enhance the Technological Interactivity it is recommended that the students take a picture at least once a month of the area that they are observing. The picture should include members from the class. The pictures can later be compared - colors of plants, clothing, sunlight available, and amounts of organisms.