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A Journey to a New Land

First people
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Primary Level Resources

Parents' and Teachers' Resources

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Introduction to the Website

This purpose of this website is to examine and explore the issues around the first arrival of humans in the Americas. Both the timing of that initial entry and the route taken by the first arrivals is unknown and is the subject of a great deal of research and debate.

We do know, however, that when people first arrived sometime before 11,500 years ago, North America looked very different than it does today. The climate was much colder, and a variety of now-extinct animals roamed the land.

The Primary section is designed to introduce our younger audience to several concepts:

  • There was another time, long ago, long before living memory.
  • The world was in the grip of an ice age; it was very cold and the land looked much different than it does today.
  • Different animals lived in that time

These concepts are presented through two fun games, designed to be used directly by the students, with context and background information provided by parents or teachers.

An "Ice Age Animals Fact Sheet" is included to assist parents and teachers to provide this support to the students.

Memory Game

Learning Objectives:

  • to encourage attention and memory capabilities
  • to recognize that different animals lived in the world long ago

Students match the cards with images of the same animals. The name of each animal is displayed when a match is successful. More advanced students can set the game to display more cards.

This game is an interactive learning tool designed to be fun!

Stickers Activity

Learning Objectives:

  • to encourage creative thinking
  • to recognize that different animals lived in the world long ago
  • to introduce students to image manipulation and concepts of composition and perspective

Students learn mouse control as they drag and drop animals onto a variety of landscape backgrounds to create a picture of what the world may have looked like during the Ice Age. The animals and background can be coloured, and the animals can be re-sized, re-positioned and erased with a click of the mouse. This game inspires creative thought while also familiarizing children with animals from the last period of glaciation.

The completed picture can be printed out for the student to take home.

Extra Activity

Have the children write or tell a story about their picture.

Animals of the Ice Age – Fact Sheets

This fact sheet is provided to help you answer questions about the animals that appear in the games.

Scimitar cat

Several types of large cats thrived in North America during the last ice age, including the scimitar cat, the saber-toothed cat and the American lion. The scimitar cat was about the size of a lion, but more slender (150 – 250 kg). It was fast, agile and could even climb trees. Unlike most cats, the scimitar cat could see well during the day. It used powerful jaws and long, razor-sharp fangs to prey on bison and young mammoths.


Most people don’t know that camels actually evolved in North America! They spread to Asia and Africa about 2 or 3 million years ago, where they can still be found today. Yesterday's Camel (sometimes called Western Camel or American Camel) roamed western North America from Mexico to the Yukon, from about 1 million years ago to 10,000 years ago, when it became extinct. This distant cousin of the llama ate grasses, leaves and other plant foods, and was larger than the modern camel, standing 2.1 m at the shoulder and weighing about 600 kg.


The steppe bison was one of several species of bison that lived in North America during the ice age. It is larger than its cousin, the American bison, weighing in at between 700 – 800 kg. It also had larger horns and a second hump on its back. It ate mainly low herbs, especially grass. Steppe bison were preyed upon by lions, wolves and humans. The species became extinct about 11,000 years ago.


The woolly mammoth is one of the most well-known ice age animals. It evolved in Eurasia and later crossed the Bering Land Bridge to North America. The woolly mammoth thrived in a tundra environment, and used its long curved ivory tusks to clear ice and snow from the low shrub vegetation it grazed upon. It was about the size of a modern elephant (5500 – 7300 kg), but was covered with long hair and had a humped back. Along with many other ice age animals, the Woolly Mammoth became extinct about 10,000 years ago.

Giant short faced bear

The giant short faced bear was the largest carnivore in North America during the ice age. It was more than 3 metres tall when standing on its hind legs, and weighed as much as 700 kilograms! It fed on large plant-eating mammals such as bison, caribou, and horses, but it is not known whether it was a hunter or a scavenger. This bear lived in North America for about 800,000 years before it became extinct about 10,000 years ago. The giant short faced bear was the largest bear ever to have lived.

Yukon horse

The Yukon horse was relatively small, standing just over 1 metre at the shoulder. It thrived in a steppe grassland environment and was among the most common of the ice age animals in Alaska and the Yukon. The diet of the Yukon horse probably consisted mainly of grasses. The Yukon horse became extinct about 12,000 years ago.


Caribou are hardy members of the deer family that have adapted to live in sub-arctic and arctic environments. They are medium-sized deer, with large hooves which enable them to easily travel over marshy tundra and snow. Females’ antlers are generally smaller than those of the males. Caribou migrate to take advantage of seasonal food resources. In the summer they eat grasses and low shrubs and in the winter, they eat mainly lichen. Caribou were one of the few large animals to escape the mass extinction of ice age animals that happened about 10,000 years ago.

Bald eagle

While some of the animals that lived during the Ice Age are now extinct, many such as the bald eagle, can still be found across North America. The bald eagle can be identified by its white head and neck, which develop by the age of four years. The wing span of the adult male is about 180 to 213 cm. Females are slightly larger.

Mountain goat

The mountain goat prefers steep treeless terrain, and its thick white fur enables it to survive in very cold environments. It has thrived in alpine regions of North America for thousands of years, and was a valuable resource for early inhabitants.

Arctic wolf

Grey wolves are a very adaptable animal, and could once be found from the Arctic to the Mediterranean in Eurasia, and from the far north to Mexico in North America. Sadly, they have now become extinct or endangered in a number of areas. There are several subspecies of the grey wolf, and they range in size from 100 – 160 cm body length, 50 – 100 cm standing height, and 15 – 80 kg body weight.


Ravens are relatively large birds, black in colour with a wedge-shaped tail. They can be found in almost all areas of the northern hemisphere, from the temperate regions to the cold arctic. Ravens eat a wide variety of animal and plant matter, and are both predators and scavengers. Ravens play an important mythological role in many North American and Eurasian cultures.

Artic ground squirrel

Artic ground squirrels are small animals (between 33-50cm long and 530-816g in weight) that inhabit tundra areas of Alaska, northwestern Canada and eastern Siberia. They live in underground burrows and tunnels, in colonies of several hundred. They are herbivores, eating mainly seeds, leaves, grasses, mushrooms and flowers. Arctic ground squirrels hibernate for up to 7 months, from September – April. Their ability to lower their body temperature to below freezing helps them to survive the cold Arctic winter.