A Breastfeeding Education Activity Package for Grades K-12



The student will be able to understand what mammals are, and know that they feed their newborn with milk from their body.


In this unit, students begin to identify mammals, and the characteristics they have in common. Mammals, including humans, produce milk as a first food source for their newborns. As the mammal matures, it needs different foods in increased amounts in addition to milk.

In Lessons 1 and 2, students review animal classification (reptiles, birds, etc.) and begin to focus on the characteristics of mammals. Through observation and discussion, they learn about and record the feeding behaviors of a baby mammal.

Lessons 3 and 4 continue to discuss mammals, specifically human babies, and the foods they need for health and well-being during their first year of life.

Resources for BABY'S FIRST FOOD

  • Jeremy Isn't Hungry by Barbara Williams. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1978.
  • Eat Up Gemma by Sarah Hayes, Lothrop, 1988.
  • Mammals of the American North, by Adrian Forsyth, Camden House, 1985.
  • Mammals by Donald Hoffmeister & Herbert Zim, Golden Books, 1987.
  • Mammals by Francis Sabin, Troll Associates, 1985.
  • North American Land Mammals (poster), Chaselle Inc. Book of Early Learning Catalog.
  • Movies/Videos
    • "What Is A Mammal?", Encyclopedia Brittanica, 1987, (15 minutes).
    • "Animals Eat In Many Ways", Phoenix Productions, 1971, (9 minutes).


All mammals, including humans, produce milk as a complete first food for their newborn.

Before you start:

By third grade, students already know there are many, many kinds of animals. They are also beginning to identify classifications and animals within those groups, (reptiles-lizards, snakes or birds-swans, ducks, etc.). This unit specifically addresses the mammal and the way the newborn mammal is fed. By having students look at and record the feeding, growth and development of a mammal they will begin to see how complete the milk diet of a newborn is. This unit may best be taught as part of an in-depth unit on mammals, or included in a lesson on infant feeding, or child care.

1 - 2. M is for Mammals Milk Science, Language Arts, Math, Social Studies, Family Life
3 - 4. Foods To Grow On Math, Family Life, Language Arts

Mammals are warm-blooded animals whose offspring are fed with milk secreted by female mammary glands.

Lessons 1 and 2 Science, Language Arts, Math, Social Studies, Family Life


Vocabulary Words:

  • offspring: refers to the babies of humans and animals.
  • vertebrate: a large group of animals that have a spinal column.
  • mammary: relates to the milk-secreting glands in mammals.

Advance Preparation:

  • Gather books/pictures of animals with their young.
  • Infant growth chart (pediatrician can provide these).
  • Copy blank growth chart for recording classroom observation.

Activities: Lesson 1

  • Review classifications of animals, i.e. reptiles, birds, mammals, etc.
  • Write the definition of mammal on the board or newsprint for students to read.
  • "Mammal: A large class of warm-blooded, usually hairy vertebrates whose offspring are fed with milk secreted by the female mammary glands."
  • Read aloud each piece of the definition and underline key terms to be discussed.
  • Spend time discussing with students key terms and clarifying characteristics of mammals.
  • When students understand the definition, brainstorm with class different types of mammals. Use a check list on the board as each animal is named.
Subject Warm Blooded Usually Hairy Vertebrate Fed with Mother's Milk Mammal
(Others may include baboon, goat, cat, human, cow, rabbit, whale)
Dog checked checked checked checked Yes
Pig checked checked checked checked Yes
Fish         No
Gerbil checked checked checked checked Yes

Lesson 2

Ask & Discuss:

  • How many students have a pet that is a mammal?
  • Call on students to tell what kind of pet they have and have class decide if it is a mammal or not (help by referring back to definition on the board).
  • How many have had pets that have had babies (kittens, puppies)?
  • Remember how tiny they were when they were born?
  • How did your cat/dog take care of new kitten/puppy?
    • Kept it warm - curled up close, found warm dry spot.
    • Protected it from harm - bark, snarl, bite anyone coming near.
    • Fed it - fed with milk from mother.


Have students observe a mammal with new offspring. Many classrooms will already have mascots, i.e., mice, rats, rabbits, gerbils, etc. If not, have child bring pet from home or visit a farm or zoo.

Using worksheet Mammal Observations, record the activities of the nursing gerbil, hamster, etc. This can be done individually or as a group project.

  • Using a blank chart and an infant growth chart, have students record and answer the following:
    • 1. Look at a human infant growth chart. How long does it take for an average infant to double its birth weight?
    • 2. Chart the weight of a mammal you observed (or ask veterinarian or farmer for information). How long did it take for the mammal you observed to double its birth weight?
    • 3. Did the mammal you observed take a longer or shorter amount of time to double its weight? Why do you think this happens?
  • Using worksheet Mammal WordFind, have students circle names of animals that are mammals. Words can be up, down, diagonal or backwards.


Have students draw a picture of an imaginary mammal and write a descriptive paragraph about it. Be sure to keep in mind the definition of a mammal discussed in this lesson - warm blooded, hairy, etc. Their paragraph should include the habits of the mammal, environment, where it lives, and how it cares for its young.

Like all mammal babies, human infants need special foods to help them grow.

Lessons 3 and 4 Math, Family Life, Language Arts


Vocabulary Words:

  • Breastfed: babies suck on breasts to receive breast milk.
  • Nutrients: substances in food needed to keep us alive and healthy.

Advance Preparation:

  • Make copies of "My Feeding History" Worksheet 3D for each child. Bring in old magazines (Parents, Good Housekeeping, etc.) for cutting up.
  • Borrow copy of "Jeremy Isn't Hungry" by Barbara Williams, or similar book from library.

Activities: Lesson 3


  • Mother's milk is the first food source for newborn mammals. As the animal matures, it needs additional foods in greater amounts.
  • The following mammals all drink their mother's milk as a baby. What other foods do they eat as they get older?
    • Cow (grass)
    • Rabbit (carrots, lettuce)
    • Horse (hay)
    • Lion (smaller animals/meats)
    • Dog (dog food)
    • Elephant (grass/leaves)
    • Humans (baby food)
  • Invite a zookeeper, farmer, or veterinarian to speak to the class about the kinds of foods animals eat. Have him/her bring in samples if possible for students to look at, feel, smell, and taste.


  • Human infants also drink their mother's milk. Breast milk has all the nutrients the baby needs during the first months of life. Like other mammals, as the newborn gets older, it begins to need some additional foods.
  • In addition to breast milk or formula, what other foods do babies eat?
    • - infant cereal (about 4-6 months of age)
    • - juice, fruit, cooked vegetables (about 5-8 months of age)
    • - meat, egg yolk (about 8-10 months of age)
    • - "table foods" (10-12 months of age)
  • It is important for a baby to only eat foods that are right for him/her at the right age.
  • Think about the foods you eat for lunch (sandwiches, pretzel, apple). Why would it be difficult and even dangerous for a baby to eat those foods?
  • Chart food needs for a newborn to 1 year old. Draw a time line on news print or black board.

    time line for one year

    Have students:

    a. Color red the area on the time line where the baby would only be drinking breast milk or formula (birth to 4 months).

    b. Place a star about the time the baby could begin eating infant cereal (4 months).

    c. Put an X on the month the baby would probably start on juices, vegetables and fruits (6 months).

    d. Trace your hand over the month where the baby may begin eating table foods (10 months and up).

Lesson 4

  • Have students bring home worksheet 3 "My Feeding History" to be filled out with help from a parent, relative or someone who knew them as a baby.
  • Follow-up "My Feeding History" by making a pie graph of the number of students breastfed vs. bottle fed. Make another showing favorite baby foods.

    example of pie charts

  • Have students bring in pictures of themselves as infants eating (i.e. first solid food, first birthday cake, etc.). Make a bulletin board display of the pictures "Our First Foods".
  • Read, "Jeremy Isn't Hungry" by Barbara Williams or another story about feeding babies.
  • Cut out pictures from magazines of babies eating and drinking. Make a collage of the pictures. Have students look at the pictures and food the baby is eating, and from that information, guess the baby's age. Be sure to include pictures of both breastfed and bottle fed infants.