Gather students on the rug using a preferred classroom management technique. I like to use my “Stop, look, listen.” The students stop what they are doing, look at me and listen for the direction. I usually preface the direction with, “When I say go…” This reminds the students to listen to the whole direction before moving to follow the directive.
In this case I would say, “When I say go I would like you to clear your space, push in your chair and go take a spot on your dot. Walking feet go.” By saying walking feet I am reminding the students to use walking feet in the classroom to ensure safe movement between areas.
When all of the students are seated on their dot in the rug area I tell the students we are going to read a musical book which gives real information. They will need to listen closely in order to hear the information.
I also tell the students they will need to use their scientific eyes to try and see the hidden forest animals on every page (and when I say hidden, they are hidden!). Full page illustration Picture hidden within the illustration
“This book is called Over in the Forest: Come and Take a Peek. It is written by Marianne Berkes and illustrated by Jill Dubin.”
I sing the book to the students giving them time to observe each page closely to try and find the hidden animal.
Once the book is over I explain to the students that they will be making a poster to display out in the hallway for the rest of the school to see.
“Boys and girls I am going to give you a research assignment. You will be allowed to select one Maryland forest animal and you will need to do some research on the animal that you chose. You will then make a poster to share the information you learned about your animal. “
“Your poster will need to include your name, so we know who did the research. The poster will need the name of the animal you chose to research. The poster will need a picture of your animal – this can be drawn, a magazine picture, a photograph, or a picture you download from the internet. The most important part of your poster will be the five facts you learned about your animal. This can be any five facts that you like, but there has to be…how many?”
The students should chant back, “Five!”
“That’s right…five facts.”
“You will have the whole week to work on your assignment at home. You can have your grown-ups or older siblings help you, or you can make the poster yourself. You can chose to present your poster anyway you like but it must include the requirements I just told you. Can anyone recall one of the requirements for me?”
Have the students recall the requirements so that everyone is clear on the expectations of the assignment.
The reason I have the students write five facts on their poster is because it is too easy to give two or three. When you give two or three facts about a topic you generally give the most popular; what it looks like, where it is found, what it eats, etc. When I ask for five facts I find I begin to see more unusual facts which shows the students had to really research their chosen animal. This extended research makes them more knowledgeable about their chosen animal and they enjoy sharing the information with their teachers and peers alike.
I also like to have the students work with their family members, it can be any family member, which means the students can share information and may even hear of different experiences. For example, a student who has a parent who hunts may come up with some interesting facts to share; or another student may have a parent who works for the Department of Natural Resources who would have access to some pretty interesting facts.
Once I have finished explaining the assignment and I have answered any questions the students may have, I use the fair sticks to call the students up to me one at a time. I hand the students the Maryland Animal Poster Directions for the activity along with a sheet of construction paper which they are to go and place in their backpack ready to take home.
Because the students are working at home this activity offers a nice opportunity for some collaboration with different relatives. For example, a parent may tell their child about an uncle who has experience with the animal they have selected to do their poster about. This poster activity becomes a nice home/school connection piece which I enjoy doing each year.
For this assignment I use the checklist to see if the students have completely followed the assignment directions.
Students share the information with another class to reinforce the information they have learned and share their knowledge with others; thus building confidence.
Do one of the activities listed on the Dawn Publications support lessons on the teachers’ downloadable activities page. You will need to scroll down the page until you see the Over in the Forest: Come and Take a Peek book image on the left.
An example of one of the lessons is: What’s for Dinner?