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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Animal Research Projects

This project is approximately 20 years in the making.

It all started in the 90's with a young girl and an unhealthy addiction. Nurtured by a grandmother who was convinced they were a good investment, the young girl slowly went down the rocky road of the Beanie. Beanie Babies, that is.

Thankfully the Beanie Baby fascination died out after a few short years, but now America had a problem. What do you do with all those Beanies?

Here's the answer- you give them to your teacher sister so she can she can use them in her classroom!

Yes, that young girl was my little sister. Her collection of Beanies was impressive, if you were into that sort of thing. So impressive that she's had them in large storage containers for the better part of 20 years. They were just waiting for another chance to bring a smile to a child's face!

So my sister, being the loving person she is, donated 24 Beanies to my classroom- no strings attached. I, in turn, had my students randomly choose a Beanie out of a bag. Whatever they pulled out of the bag- that was the animal they would be researching for the next 3 weeks!

We had an assortment.

 Some exotic, some domestic, all fun!

Now to set some parameters for our research.
We came up with the questions ourselves. Students were told to pick 5 of them as research starters. We went over important points, like how to navigate the Web- Google and Wikipedia. (I explained that Wikipedia was good enough for this project, but not so much later in school.) We talked about Internet safety and how to research exactly what you wanted to know.

After researching, students were to add their own Text Talk to the information and personal connections. In the end, they made books complete with text features like a table of contents, headings, pictures, captions, diagrams, bold words, and glossaries. (Yes! Some of my students added glossaries!)

After presenting their books to the class, students were asked to use the information from their research to create brochures about their animal's habitat or living space. Since we had a wide variety of animals, we had to create research points for both exotic and domestic.

Students were to choose 4 of the 6 to put into their brochures. Extra research was done over the course of 2 days, text features and personal connections added, and best handwriting used.

Here are a few examples of some finished work.

 All About Cats

 All About Rhino(s)

 All About Cats

 All About Hedgehogs

All About Parrots

 All About Sheep

All About Dolphins

After final presentations and grading, some of the best projects were chosen to grace the board in the hallway!

Everyone really enjoyed this project. My students loved getting to have their "pets" on their tables all day. The "pets" had magical properties-  my students were able to stay in their seats! They were able to quietly read, as long as they were reading to their pet! They could reteach math concepts, their pets were all ears! Why have I not done this before now?

At the end of the project students were given a choice: Take their pet home to keep, or keep them at school as a class pet and take them home at the end of the year. I had students choose both options. You'll still see animals on tables, patiently listening to their child read to them.

Thanks you, Little Sis for your generosity! Can I get more for next year? :)

I want to show off one of the books. One of my students added beautiful illustrations, captions, bold words, and a glossary. Other than one major research glitch that I didn't catch until it was too late, this was a perfect project!

Excellent job, Soldier!!

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