Who Comes Out at Night?

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Students will be able to begin to understand that we can use books as a research tool to find information.

Big Idea

We can learn lots about animals and where they live through the use of informational texts.


5 minutes

For this lesson the students literally walk into the classroom and go to work. My students are used to making journal entries of one kind or another for morning work. For example on Monday the students will come in and find a sight word sentence prompt at their seat. The student will need to get out their Language Arts journal, copy the prompt and then work to complete it. A prompt may look like this, “When I go out to recess I like to…”

On Tuesday the students will come in and find a Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI) problem on the board. For example, “Mrs. Clapp had for red flowers and five yellow flowers. How many flowers did she have in all?” They will need to get the correct journal and work towards solving the problem using pictures, numbers and words.  

Or they may walk into the classroom and they will have a directive such as the one they have today. The students are told to look at the rolling cart and see if they can read the instruction there. Once they have decoded the text and successfully figured out what is being asked of them, they will need to get their science journal and begin to discuss with their peers where and how they are going to get the information they need.

For my middle low and low reading level students I just read the morning work direction straight to them.

What students see: Nocturnal Journal Directions


20 minutes

The students get their science journals and begin to discuss with the peers how they will get the information they need. It does not take long for some of the higher performing students to go into the science bucket in book area and pull out the books they want to use for information.

Unbeknownst to the students I had stacked the science container the night before with all kinds of books on nocturnal animals. I had also made sure I had multiple copies of particular books as I want to make sure students are not competing for resources which can lead to classroom behavior problems.  In this way I am ensuring their success and also setting them up with the prior knowledge they will need for the focus lesson being presented later on in the day.  Sample of Book Resources Used

I will sit on the rug with the students and listen in on their conversations and chime in with guiding questions when necessary. For example, when one student wanted to correctly label their nocturnal animal, “Well if you saw the picture of the animal on the cover of the book and you just told me the animal’s name starts with /r/, where could you get that word?”

“Oh it’s right there on the cover, right?”

“Well let’s check. I see the uppercase letter R which makes the /r/ sound. What letter do I see next?”

“Good I do see letter a. What sound does it make?”

“Right /a/ like apple. So we have r-a- (sounding it out), what comes next?”

“There is two c’s. What sound?”

“Okay /c/ like cat. So we have r-a-c- (sounding it out), what comes next?”

“Two o’s. They are going to make the /oo/ sound like in the word moon. What is the next letter?”

“N like nest. Great so now we have r-a-cc-oo-n. I see an s on the end. What does that mean?”

“Yes that is right, we have the word raccoon's. So is that the word you need to label your animal? Okay great.”  Nocturnal Journal Student Working


Other students may have specific questions about the animals themselves. For example one student asked me about whether the raccoon lived in our area. “Well let’s find out.” I got the Raccoons book and talked my way through the process of finding the information using the table of contents and turning the pages until I found the information the student was asking about. We read the page together so the student was able to have the success of answering her own question using information from the book. Table of Contents   Informational Page

I modeled using the glossary and the read more page for other students who had questions about their animals. Later in the day we used the links offered through the internet sites to gain more information about our nocturnal animals.  Index   Glossary   Read More   

Informational Text Features 

I allowed the students 20 minutes to work on this activity. Set a visual timer and remind the students to look at the timer so they will use their time wisely.  Nocturnal Journal Students Working   Nocturnal Journal Students Working 2   


5 minutes

When the time is up I blow two short blasts on my whistle and use the “Stop, look listen” technique mentioned above. “When I say go, I would like you to clean up your space remembering to take care of our things, push in your chair, and use walking feet to go and take a spot on your dot.”

Students know to put completed work in the finished work bin. Any work that is not completed goes into the under construction bin and can be completed throughout the day whenever the student finds he/she has spare time or it will be completed during free choice center time.  Nocturnal Journal Student Sample 1   Nocturnal Journal Student Sample 2   Nocturnal Journal Student Sample 3

Once the students are seated I tell them their exit slip for today is to tell me one animal comes out at night.

“I am going to give you twenty seconds to sit and think about the animals you researched this morning when you came into the classroom. Once you have told me the name of an animal that comes out at night you will go ahead and do your morning job.” I look at my watch and start timing.  

“Okay the twenty seconds are done. I hope you all thought really hard and came up with one animal that comes out at night. I am going to use the fair sticks to help me pick the students. Here we go.”

Once a student has told me his/her nocturnal animal they are able to go ahead and do his/her classroom morning job. If a student is unable to give me an answer, they know they can do one of two things.

  1. They can ask a friend to help, or
  2. They can wait until everyone else has gone and then we will work together on coming up with an animal. 


5 minutes

For this assignment I check the student’s journal entries, discuss with them the choices they made and where they got the information from. I also start to introduce the vocabulary nocturnal and diurnal. I put a check mark or a smiley face on their journal entry and the student then places their journal back in the correct location. 

While I am discussing their journal entries with them, I ask them to tell me which books they used and which one was their favorite. I point out how the book helped them complete the assignment so they begin to understand how research increases our knowledge of the world around us. 


For those students that are done I have a nocturnal/diurnal set of cards for the students to sort. If the students are unsure about the placement of a particular animal, I direct them to the books available in book area to seek the information they require in order to place the animal correctly.  

Use the internet site links through www.facthound.com at the back of the books we used.