Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog!

Animals in the Classroom

Posted by Becca Ross on Dec 6, 2016 3:45:00 PM

This is a guest blog post by Becca Ross, who usually writes over at Love, Laughter, and Literacy. To read more from her, come back here for more posts from her or check out her blog!

I have a confession to make. I’m on a mission to add some animals to my classroom. I’m excited about the idea of digging into some new science inquiry projects based on animal exploration. One of the books I received to review from Hameray Publishing Group is called Where Do Animals Live?

 

becca2.png

This book is going to be my kick-off in animal exploration to prepare the students for adding animals to our classroom. The book has repetitive text, which is great for kindergarten students as they are learning to gain independence in their reading. It may have even encouraged me to jump headfirst into our first animal experience. See that pretty little girl in the background? 

The best part of this book is the back. I love the suggestions for teachers and parents.

becca3.png

The idea of creating animal homes is my favorite. Like most teachers, I collect a variety of materials. I can’t wait to set things out in our art center and let kids start to build their own animals homes.

My dream is to take our study of animals and their homes and move to our courtyard as well. We have a beautiful space inside of our school walls that I would love to make into an exploration space including birds and their needs.

becca4.png      becca5.png

There are so many exciting changes coming and I’m thrilled to let Where Do Animals Live? help kick things off! Are you ready to meet our new guest in kindergarten? Meet Peanut! She’s our 30-year-old Box Turtle who has joined us! I totally blame my new book for this little adventure. We simply HAD to take things to the next level when answering, Where Do Animals Live?

becca6.png 

Happy reading!

 

~~~

To learn more about Where Do Animals Live? and the My World series, click on the image below and download an information sheet!

 My World Series Info Sheet

Read More

Topics: Animals, My World, Becca Ross

Five-Senses Poems: Expanding Students' Writing

Posted by Susan Weaver Jones on Jun 16, 2016 3:30:00 PM

susan-weaver-jones.jpgToday's guest blogger is Susan Weaver Jones, an elementary educator from Orlando, Florida, who currently works as an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher in Knoxville, Tennessee.

What can teachers do when their students' writings have the bare bones of stories or paragraphs but not much else? How can educators encourage their students to expand their writing by adding more information? Simply instructing students to add interesting details to their writing will not help them understand how to incorporate such description. To assist students in expanding their writing, teachers may find a five-senses poem to be an appropriate place to start.

A “five-senses poem” is a non-rhyming poem that follows a certain format. Once the topic is determined, each of the five lines in the poem focuses on a particular characteristic of the topic using a different sense: seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and feeling. You can download my reproducible poem template at the bottom of this page

Topic: ___________

It looks like _____________________.        

It sounds like ___________________.

It smells like ____________________.

It tastes like ____________________.

It feels like _____________________.

Modeling the development of a five-senses poem provides the initial support that many students require. Choosing familiar experiences as topics involves students in the thinking process, since many students have relevant background knowledge.

For instance, I have used the topic of recess to introduce five-senses poems to my elementary students. The topic has been successful because recess is an activity in which they all have personal experience, as shown below 

Recess

It looks like kids playing together.

It sounds like friends yelling to each other.

It smells like sweaty socks and shoes.

It tastes like dirt in my mouth.

It feels like my legs are tired from running.

Discussing additional possibilities for the senses as they relate to the topic can help students create their own versions of the poem. Subsequently, students can attempt other five-senses poems on topics such as birthdays, holidays, and seasons with teacher support, as appropriate. As students become proficient in using their senses to describe, they can be guided to include sensory description in their narratives, as well.

Once students have accessed their background knowledge to write five-senses poems about familiar topics, they can learn to use informational texts as resources to create fact-based poems. Depending upon their familiarity with the topic, they may be able to combine their prior knowledge with new information gathered from text, pictures, and discussions. Primary, ELL, special ed, and struggling students may be more dependent than other students on what they learn from teacher-led class discussions and pictures to supplement what they can read.

zoozoo-animal-world-bat.jpg

For example, when using the book Bat by Lee Waters in the Zoozoo Animal World series, teachers can provide important information about bats' habitats through the talking points on the inside back cover of the book. The following five-senses poem could result from students' knowledge about bats, the text, and the talking points. 

A Bat’s Habitat

It looks like a dark cave.

It sounds like fluttering wings.

It smells like a rainy day.

It tastes like crunchy insects.

It feels like a safe place to sleep upside down.

After modeling and discussion, students could work individually or in pairs to choose animals to read about. Afterward, they could write and illustrate their own five-senses poems about the habitats for the animals they selected, using their texts for reference.

Later, teachers could guide students to use the research-based poems as the basis of paragraphs about the topic. Instead of writing only two or three sentences using their background knowledge or copying sentences from books, students could develop paragraphs using details from their five-senses poems. Consider the differences between the following paragraphs about bats:

Bats live in caves. The caves are dark. Bats fly a lot. 

Bats like to sleep in dark caves. On rainy days, many bats hang upside down in the caves. They fly around at night to find crunchy insects to eat. Then they rest. When the bats wake up, the noisy sound of their wings fill the caves. 

Students can practice reading and writing about chosen topics through five-senses poems. Learning to write five-senses poems can help students include descriptive details and expand their writing, whether they are working on narrative stories or informational paragraphs!

 ~~~

Susan Weaver Jones has taught students in kindergarten through eighth grade as a classroom teacher, reading specialist, Reading Recovery teacher, and literacy coach. She is also the author of three leveled readers in Hameray's Kaleidoscope Collection.

 ~~~

To download Susan's activity, or an information sheet with key features about the series Zoozoo Animal World, which contain the books mentioned in this post, click the images below.

 

New Call-to-Action     Comparing and Contrasting Packet

Read More

Topics: Teaching Writing, Animals, Zoozoo Animal World, Poetry, Writing Activity

Build Real-World Knowledge at Any Reading Level

Posted by Tara Rodriquez on Apr 12, 2016 10:42:22 AM

Sea Turtles Informational Texts

Building real-world knowledge through informational text is a cornerstone of teaching and, as the Common Core explains, immersing students in information about the world around them helps to develop the strong general knowledge and vocabulary they need to become successful readers. But this doesn't have to be boring—you can make it fun and engaging!

Sending your students on fact-finding missions can be one way to do this. They can pull out a pre-assigned number of facts from informational texts at their "just-right" level and then compare the facts they picked with the facts picked by their neighbors. This encourages students to read closely to try to find the "best" facts about their topic.

If your unit is on animals, or habitats, or the ocean, for example, you could model this by taking a book on sea turtles and pulling out the fact that sea turtles come onto land to lay their eggs.  Depending on the individual student's reading level, you might ask them to pull out more or less complex descriptions of their facts. Having a wide range of informational texts at different reading levels but on the same or similar topics is helpful for this exercise. 

Sea Turtle Informational Text Zoozoo Level F Sea Turtles Informational Text Intervention Level s

Pictured above are an example of the lower-level Sea Turtle book from Zoozoo Animal World (guided reading level F) and of the book Sea Turtles from the intervention series Underwater Encounters (guided reading level S).

What is your favorite way of getting students to dive into informational text? Share it in the comments below!

To download information sheets with key features about the series shown in this post, click the images below. Zoozoo Animal World now features four additional habitats to those listed on the information sheet: ocean, desert, grasslands, and mountains.

New Call-to-Action New Call-to-Action

 

Read More

Topics: Common Core, Informational Text, Animals, Nonfiction

10 Fun Facts About Elephants for Kids in Kindergarten and First Grade

Posted by Nick Bennett on Apr 5, 2016 8:08:36 PM


This is the beginning of a new series of blog posts on fun, unique animals which many students are sure to love — we’ll be writing easy-to-read, quick and informative posts on animals from dolphins and lions, to panda bears, tigers, and penguins.

This is first post in this series. To read the next post in this series, please check back next week. As always, you can subscribe to our blog to get new posts in your inbox.

 

Each new post will go over a different, fun, unique animal, and explore the interesting traits and characteristics of the specific animal with 10 fun facts. The purpose of this series of posts is to help teachers share information on some of the world’s most interesting animals, and to get students in kindergarten and first grade excited about reading, exploring, and understanding more about these animals in class and at home.

fun-facts-about-elephants-for-kids.jpg


This week, we will be going over and discussing one of the largest animals in the wild — the elephant. There are several remarkable, fun facts about the elephant that are sure to fascinate young students. Following are just 10 facts that are sure to get your students excited to learn more and read more about elephants. You can use this information in units or lessons on elephants, or fun classroom activities around elephants.

     Fun Fact 1
  • Elephants are the largest mammals, and largest land animals, in the world. Some elephants weigh as much as 14,000 pounds, and are as tall as 13 feet.

     Fun Fact 2

  • Elephants are able live to be over seventy years old when living in the wild.

     Fun Fact 3

  • Elephants have a very highly developed brain; their brain is larger than the brains of all other land mammals.

     Fun Fact 4

  • Elephants are very social animals and have a well-developed system of communication.

     Fun Fact 5

  • Elephants like to eat plants, and they like to live next to bodies of water.

     Fun Fact 6

  • Elephants are like humans — they are either right-tusked, or left-tusked, like humans are either right-handed or left-handed.

     Fun Fact 7

  • Elephants one of only a few mammals which are unable to jump.

     Fun Fact 8

  • Elephants lack great vision, and have an average sense of sight. Elephants do, however, possess both a very good sense of smell and sense of hearing, as well as a great sense of touch.

     Fun Fact 9

  • Believe it or not, elephants are able to swim — they use their trunk to breathe, similar to a snorkel, when submerged in deep water.

     Fun Fact 10

  • Elephants are able to have an improved sense of smell by waving their trunks up in the air.



This is the end of the first post in this series of blog posts on
 fun facts about animals for kids in kindergarten and first grade. To read the next post in this series, please check back next week. As always, you can subscribe to our blog to get new posts in your inbox.


To view and learn more about titles from Hameray on the topic of elephants, please click the images below.

          ITW_NF_Elephant-1.jpg     ITW_F_BigElephant.jpg     ITW_W_PlayBall.jpg

~~~

To download an information sheet with key features about the Zoozoo Into the Wild series, which contains the books about elephants mentioned above, please click the image below.


New Call-to-Action 

 

Read More

Topics: Making Learning Fun, Kindergarten, Zoozoo Into the Wild, Animals, First Grade

Cinquain Poems: Transition to Expository Writing

Posted by Susan Weaver Jones on Mar 3, 2016 3:36:54 PM

susan-weaver-jones.jpgToday's guest blogger is Susan Weaver Jones, an elementary educator from Orlando, Florida, who currently works as an ESL teacher in Knoxville, Tennessee. She has taught students in Kindergarten through Eighth Grade as a Classroom Teacher, Reading Specialist, Reading Recovery Teacher, and Literacy Coach. She is also the author of three leveled readers in Hameray's Kaleidoscope Collection.

 

Teaching primary students how to read informational text is one thing. Teaching them how to write it is definitely something else! Then consider the challenge of working with intermediate students who struggle with writing or who are reluctant writers. What's a teacher to do?

With increasing emphasis on incorporating more expository text into literacy instruction, teachers may wonder how to best foster informational writing. Cinquain poems are one way to effectively link informational writing with description found in both narrative and expository writing.

Because cinquain poems do not rhyme and contain limited text within a specific format, they often appeal to students who prefer tasks with less writing. Cinquain poems are five-line poems that utilize different parts of speech, beginning with nouns. Though several variations exist, one version uses the following format. (Please see the reproducible cinquain template below.)

Noun
Adjective   Adjective
Verb with -ing   Verb with -ing   Verb with -ing
Descriptive phrase or short sentence
Synonym for noun

 For primary students who are not accustomed to using factual sources beyond themselves, the selection of nouns, adjectives, and verbs for the poems requires them to select key words that capture essential aspects of the subjects. Informational texts, such as Puffins by Lee Waters in the Zoozoo Arctic Animal World Collection, can provide important information about unfamiliar topics when students lack sufficient background knowledge and need additional resources. 

Consider this cinquain, based on the text and talking points in the early reader, Puffins.

Puffin
Colorful   Hungry
Flapping   Flying   Swimming
Likes to paddle in the water
Sea parrot

 Initially, teachers can model the process of writing cinquain poems by using topics with which the students are familiar. Familiar topics allow students to use their collective background knowledge as they experience the line-by-line creation of group cinquains. Later, students can experiment with less familiar topics once they have appropriate resources from which to gather needed information, as well as experience with the cinquain format. 

Here is a cinquain based on another bird, the bald eagle. Most primary students probably know more about eagles than puffins, so books, such as Bald Eagle by Lee Waters from the Zoozoo Forest Animal World Collection, can add to their knowledge. The text and talking points at the back of the book provide needed information.

Bald eagle
Fast   Light
Soaring   Grabbing   Eating
Builds big nests
National bird

 Cinquain poems are stand-alone, end products that can be illustrated and shared. However, they also provide students with key concepts that can become the basis for informational paragraphs. Read the following paragraph, which is based on details about bald eagles from the cinquain.

A bald eagle is a bird. It flies very fast. It is light, not heavy.
It soars in the air and grabs fish to eat. It can build a really big nest.
The bald eagle is the national bird for the U.S.A.

 

Here is another example of an informational paragraph written from the key concepts used in the cinquain about puffins.

Puffins are birds with colorful beaks and legs. They like
to swim in the ocean. They can catch 10 fish at one time. When
they paddle, they look like they're flying in the water. Some people
call them "sea parrots."

 

Teacher-led discussions about key concepts access students' background information from their own experiences and other resources. Those discussions are crucial for students, so they can verbalize different possibilities for the cinquains and the paragraphs, prior to recording their chosen information. In the paragraphs, the students can elaborate upon the key concepts.

Students can enjoy writing cinquain poems as they focus on informational text. Then they can learn how to expand their writing into sentences and paragraphs by using the cinquain poems as basis for discussion prior to further composing. Because the cinquains help students transition from outside sources to their own written expression, they are less likely to plagiarize source materials. Students can creatively demonstrate what they have learned about informational topics through poetry and expository writing. Happy writing!

 

puffin.jpg         bald-eagle.jpg

 

  

cinquain-template-2-1.jpg

 

 ~~~

To download Susan's activity, or an information sheet with key features about the series Zoozoo Animal World, which contain the books mentioned in this post, click the images below.

 

New Call-to-Action     Cinquain Poems

 

 

Read More

Topics: Teaching Writing, Animals, Zoozoo Animal World, Poetry, Writing Activity

Writing in Science through Leveled Texts—with FREE Download!

Posted by Susan Weaver Jones on Dec 18, 2014 8:00:00 AM

Today's guest blogger is Susan Weaver Jones, an elementary educator from Orlando, Florida, who currently works in Knoxville, Tennessee. She has taught students in indergarten through eighth grade as a Classroom Teacher, Reading Specialist, Reading Recovery Teacher, and Literacy Coach. She is also the author of three leveled readers in the Kaleidoscope Collection. You can read her other guest posts here.

Using a variety of leveled informational books on a single topic can address the challenge of finding appropriate, content-area texts for elementary students to read. Now, imagine how those same selections could help students successfully transition from reading about the topic to writing about it!

ArcticFox_cover-PRINT-200ANIMAL_IN_THE_SEA_cover-200h

 

  

 

 

 

 

The jot chart used to record answers to specific questions about a content-area topic during reading can be modified slightly to support students who will use their notes for writing about the topic.  (See guest blog titled Differentiating in Science through Leveled Texts.)  Adding space to record an interesting fact and/or a thought- provoking question, as well as providing room to write a short conclusion, gives young writers an organizational structure from which to form their paragraphs.  

WeaverJones-3-300-2

Guiding students through the reading, questioning, note-taking, and paragraph formation to create a class product, in which each student produces the same written report, can serve as a model for their future content-area writing.  Unfortunately, when students begin working more independently on content-area research, they sometimes have difficulty combining and/or rewording the information they've located, so they resort to plagiarizing their sources.  How can teachers guide students through content-area writing that reflects students' own wording and voice? 

An engaging approach that reduces plagiarism while blending creative writing with factual information is the RAFT writing strategy (Santa,1988).  RAFT is an acronym that stands for Role, Audience, Format, and Topic.  Often in school, the role of the writer is that of a student, the audience is the teacher, the format is a report, and the topic is whatever the teacher assigns.  With RAFT, new possibilities abound! 

Recently, I worked with second-grade students on a nonfiction selection about the desert.  After they read about desert animals included in the selection, I referred the students to additional resources about the desert.  I asked each one to choose a desert animal they found interesting.  Once the animals were identified, students worked with the different texts to locate details about their animals.  They used their jot charts to record what their animals looked like, what the animals' habitats were like, and what the animals ate.  They also had to find at least one other interesting fact for each animal that could become the basis of an intriguing, introductory question.

At the outset of this writing project, I advised the students that they would end up writing as if they were the desert animals they had picked instead of just reporting on the animals.  The change to a first-person perspective meant that the students would use the pronoun I in their finished products instead of it or they, as would usually occur in reports written from the third-person point of view.  The students were initially uncertain about this unexpected twist, but they soon warmed up to the idea! 

This RAFT assignment allowed each student to assume the role of a desert animal, write to the audience of someone wanting to visit the home of the animal, and use the format of an introduction, all based upon the topic of the desert animal chosen.  Many of the students discovered that their animals weren't particularly friendly, so we decided to use that characteristic to advantage.  For animals that were especially fierce, the students had great fun writing with a hostile attitude towards their imaginary visitors!  They also enjoyed creating pictures to accompany their introductions.

When students shared their written animal introductions with the class, interest was high for them (and for me), as we listened to factual information about various desert animals presented in a format that was entertaining, as well as informative!   Such variety would not have been likely if students had been limited to a single text that some could read and some could not.  Using different leveled books on the same general topic allowed for differentiation in reading and writing!

~~~

If you'd like to learn more about our Zoozoo Animal World series or My World series, click the images below to download series highlight sheets! Click the worksheet image at the bottom to download the free jot chart.

New Call-to-Action    New Call-to-Action  

 New Call-to-action

 

 

 

Read More

Topics: Informational Text, Animals, Zoozoo Animal World, Susan Weaver Jones, My World

Differentiating in Science through Leveled Texts—with FREE Download!

Posted by Susan Weaver Jones on Nov 6, 2014 8:00:00 AM

Today's guest blogger is Susan Weaver Jones, an elementary educator from Orlando, Florida, who currently works in Knoxville, Tennessee. She has taught students in Kindergarten through Eighth Grade as a Classroom Teacher, Reading Specialist, Reading Recovery Teacher, and Literacy Coach. She is also the author of three leveled readers in the Kaleidoscope Collection. You can read her other guest posts here.

Teaching science in the primary grades can be challenging, depending upon the resources available. Hands-on, participatory experiments successfully capitalize on students' curiosity and interest in exploration. However, class-size amounts of consumable materials and needed equipment may be limited, due to budget constraints. In addition, some science topics may require more reading-to-learn opportunities due to practicality, as well as cost.

The same funding issues can affect textbook availability, too. Even when textbooks are provided, though, concerns may arise about the difficulty of the textbooks as compared with students' reading abilities. Given the range of reading levels in many elementary classrooms, coupled with unfamiliar science vocabulary, the difficulty of many science textbooks may exceed the instructional reading levels of some students. What alternative instructional options do teachers have

One strong possibility encourages teachers to differentiate by borrowing and/or building collections of informational books on different reading levels. By utilizing a variety of leveled texts on the same topic, most students can read more than one book about the selected topic, while ensuring that even the lowest -performing readers have at least one text that is manageable. For emergent readers and ESL students, wordless informational books can supplement leveled, non-fiction books. The photographs in the books engage the students and build their vocabulary through discussion. (See Hameray's My World Collection, Zoozoo Animal World series, and Zoozoo Into the Wild for books appropriate for early and emergent readers.) 

ANIMAL_IN_THE_SEA_cover-200h ArcticFox_cover-PRINT-200 ITW-Nonfiction-Elephant-200

Using a variety of science-oriented texts means that some facts will likely be included in several books, while other information might appear in only one or two. The differences between texts allow for reinforcement and confirmation of concepts in some cases and for introduction of new ideas in others. The variety of texts fosters the search for and the discovery of previously known and unknown facts, which can be shared with all

Before reading, teachers can access their students' prior knowledge through discussion of a KTWL chart. Determine what the students already know, what they think they know, and what they want to learn. At the conclusion of the study, the teacher can revisit the chart with the class to find out what the students have learned. If some questions are left unanswered, the teacher may choose to reference other sources through online research to satisfy students' inquiries.

Weaver-Jones-2-1-219 Weaver-Jones-2-2-219

Students can keep track of the information they locate through the use of jot charts. Jot charts are simple graphic organizers that allow writers to keep information about topics in one place. Using selected questions from the KTWL charts (which could vary by student, as needed), students record answers to the questions and include the title and author of each source on the jot charts. When students use nonfiction texts in conjunction with jot charts, they learn how to seek information and take notes from sources other than themselves. Some students might record information from single texts (including photographs), while other students might be capable of using information from two or three sources in their jot charts. The jot charts can then serve as references for students to review information and as means to summarize their learning. Students can also refer to the photographs in leveled texts to create illustrations that depict the information they've learned. No longer solely dependent on what they can remember after reading, students can reread and compare their information with others from their jot charts.

When teachers incorporate different levels of text on the same topics to accommodate their students' reading levels in content areas such as science, they open up new avenues of learning for all of their students!

~~~

If you'd like to learn more about our Zoozoo Animal World series, click the images below to download series highlight sheets! Click the worksheet image at the bottom to download the free charts.

New Call-to-Action New Call-to-Action New Call-to-Action

Jot Chart and KTWL Chart

Read More

Topics: Informational Text, Zoozoo Into the Wild, Animals, Zoozoo Animal World, Susan Weaver Jones, My World

Using Wordless Books Within a Content Unit

Posted by Susanna Westby on Mar 24, 2014 8:00:00 AM

This is a guest blog post from Susanna Westby of Whimsy Workshop, and it includes a FREE download with worksheets! See the bottom of the post for the link to download, and check back frequently for more great classroom-tested ideas! If you'd like to see her other contributions to this blog, click here!

animals_in_the_forest-1-250Hello again! I’m Susanna from Whimsy Workshop Teaching, and today I’m sharing with you some examples of how I use wordless books from the My World series to add a new angle to a content unit. The book we used this time was Animals In the Forest by Susan Bennett-Armistead. My key concepts for this lesson were based on writing: observations, invented spelling and editing.

To begin, I projected the pages as we did a whole-class picture walk through the book. This complemented our previous class study of North American animals and was a great review. We discussed what we knew about the animals and previous experiences with raccoons and bears.

Next, students used a template to write a poem about the animals in the book. Because the main part of the book has no text, the emphasis was on close study of the pictures and gathering our own details rather than reading about information. This was an interesting change!

Students wrote:

In the forest, I see “a bird feeding green worms to five hungry chicks.”

In the forest, I see “a brown furry squirrel gathering nuts for the winter.”

In the forest, I see “a spider spinning a web to catch flies and mosquitoes.”

Students used their “best guesses” to spell the words. When they were done, we used the last pages of the book to edit their spelling. There are two pages with animal words listed, and students had to try to find their animal on the list, check the spelling, and edit their work.

When we were done, we also used the questions provided at the back of the book to review what we had learned and explore new questions about the forest, such as the following:

Where do animals hide in the forest?

Where do animals get food in the forest?

The "In The Forest” worksheet we used is included here as a free download! These books were a valuable addition to our study of North American animal resources!


I have been teaching primary grades for 20 years. My classroom is a place of hands-on, creative learning where students feel safe to make mistakes and learn from them! I live near Vancouver, BC Canada with my music-teacher husband and two teenage boys. More literacy ideas and graphics can be found on my blog, Whimsy Workshop Teaching.


To download the "In the Forest" worksheet, click the worksheet image to the left below. For more information on the My World series, click the image to the right below to download a series information sheets with highlights and key features, or click here to visit our website!

In the Forest Worksheet  New Call-to-Action

 

Read More

Topics: Susanna Westby, Animals, My World, Wordless Books

Teaching Similarities and Differences: Bats & Owls—with FREE Download

Posted by Susanna Westby on Feb 10, 2014 8:00:00 AM

This is a guest blog post from Susanna Westby of Whimsy Workshop, and it includes a FREE download with worksheets! See the bottom of the post for the link to download, and check back frequently for more great classroom-tested ideas! If you'd like to see her other contributions to this blog, click here!

Hello again! I’m Susanna from Whimsy Workshop Teaching, and today I’m sharing some examples of how I use books from the Zoozoo Animal World series to teach similarities and differences. The books we used were ”Bat” and “Owl” by Lee Waters.

Bat Cover.new Owl Cover.new

My key concepts for these lessons were difference and similarities of animals that live in different biomes. In this case, we compared a forest owl and a rainforest bat to see if we could find some similarities despite living in a different environment.

3 

As we read through each story as a whole group, we took note of different animal characteristics, similarities and differences. We projected the images so that we could read together and notice many of the detail in the wonderful photographs.

owl 1 bat 2
 

We identified relevant vocabulary words by circling or underlining on the board, as shown.

Students also love to trace the words that are projected to see if they can make them look “perfect”; everyone wants a turn at this, and they love to read it once we turn the projector off!

Our next task is to organize our findings. We make two lists: one for each animal containing the things we’ve noticed about each. During this time, we also make good use of the “Talking Points” section of both books, which has a lot of interesting information. Students noted information from both the text and the pictures. Here are a few examples:

  • Bat and owls both fly.
  • Owls are birds, but bats are mammals.
  • Bats and owls both live in the forest.
  • Bats and owls both have wings.
  • Bats and owls are both nocturnal.

Once we’re done, students go back to their desks to complete a Venn Diagram to compare/contrast the bat and owl (this is available for download at the bottom of the page). They are repeatedly reading and discussing the pictures from the book, and the information we’ve collected on the board as they decide which points to include in their own diagram.

Students love to share their work using a document camera so the whole class can see!

~~~

I have been teaching primary grades for 20 years. My classroom is a place of hands-on, creative learning where students feel safe to make mistakes and learn from them! I live near Vancouver, BC Canada with my music-teacher husband and two teenage boys. More literacy ideas and graphics can be found on my blog, Whimsy Workshop Teaching.

~~~

Download your free "Bat and Owl" comparison sheet by clicking the worksheet image below! For more information on the Zoozoo Animal World series, click here to visit our website, or click the image on the right to download a series information sheet with highlights and key features.

Bat and Owl Venn Diagram Download New Call-to-Action

Read More

Topics: Zoozoo Animals, Susanna Westby, Animals, Zoozoo Animal World, Venn Diagrams

An African Animal Lesson Using Informational Texts—with FREE Download!

Posted by Susanna Westby on Jan 31, 2014 8:00:00 AM

This is a guest blog post from Susanna Westby of Whimsy Workshop, and it includes a FREE download with worksheets! See the bottom of the post for the link to download, and check back frequently for more great classroom-tested ideas! If you'd like to see her other contributions to this blog, click here!

Hello again! I’m Susanna from Whimsy Workshop Teaching, and today I’m sharing some examples of how I use the Into the Wild series of informational texts by Claire Vial and Graham Meadows to teach about animals.

The books we used for this lesson were Zebra, Lion, Elephant, Hippo, and Giraffe.

ITW booksMy key concepts for these lessons were African animal characteristics and habitats. We discussed these as we looked at the pictures. Our class theme for January is Africa, so students had some background knowledge already.

First, we used these books as a whole-class read-aloud, as I projected the images for the class. We studied the vocabulary and information on each page and compared the animals.

2We also used the books in small groups, and we took note of different animal characteristics, similarities, and differences.

3Students were encouraged to write down characteristics that were unique to their animal on the worksheet below. Working in small groups allowed me to guide and assist them with this task; we recorded information on the sheet.

4To really absorb the information from these books in a fun way, students created a book of riddles. They worked in small groups to generate clues or riddles for their animal, and then drew the animal on a small answer card.

5 After assembling the book, students could pull out the answer card to reveal the answer. We spent a whole afternoon testing each other with our “What Am I?” riddle books!

6I have included a simple template as a free download, so that you can try this with your own class. Simply fold a paper in half and glue edges at the top, then fold vertically like a greeting card. Once students get the idea, they will be able to create their own riddle books for any of the animals. I’ve also included the “My African Animal Study” recording sheet for writing animal characteristics. This can be used before making the riddle books, or just on its own!

I hope you enjoy them as much as my class did!

~~~

I have been teaching primary grades for 20 years. My classroom is a place of hands-on, creative learning where students feel safe to make mistakes and learn from them! I live near Vancouver, BC Canada with my music-teacher husband and two teenage boys. More literacy ideas and graphics can be found on my blog, Whimsy Workshop Teaching.

~~~

Download your free "My African Animal Study" and riddle book template by clicking the worksheet image below! For more information on the Zoozoo Into the Wild series, click here to visit our website, or click the image on the right to download a series information sheet with highlights and key features.

African Animals Unit Sheets Download New Call-to-Action


Read More

Topics: Making Learning Fun, K-2 Literacy, Informational Text, Susanna Westby, Zoozoo Into the Wild, Animals

Subscribe to Email Updates

Posts by Topic

see all

Follow Me