In starting off the year with 1st graders, I wanted to combine some fiction/nonfiction discussions with some research. Our school mascot is the crocodile, but I had more alligator fiction books that I wanted to use, so we did alligators because it was pretty close. (We did talk about how alligators and crocodiles are different animals though!)
The first week, we read Snip Snap What’s That and A Girl and Her Gator. After talking about the different points of view between the two books, the students chose if they would want an alligator or not and why. Then, they wrote why and drew a picture to support their answer.
The books we read.
I would like an alligator. Because I would watch tv with her.
I would not like an alligator. Alligators look weird.
I would like an alligator because it will help me read a book. And I get to name him Joanna.
I would like an alligator. Because he would be my friend.
The following week, we reviewed the Super 3 and read about real alligators. I modeled and then they wrote three things they learned about alligators with pictures to support their statements. We have been talking a lot about how the pictures need to show what the words say, so if you are talking about their teeth, your picture needs to show their teeth.
Alligators have sharp teeth. Alligators can swim. Alligators can walk.
They have sharp teeth. They have scales. They have look like logs.
Alligators sharp teeth. Alligators eat fish and turtles. Alligators have long tails.
First graders were flying into insect research! First we read about what makes an animal an insect and they filled in this booklet with facts about insects (I think I got it from TpT?).
The next week, we reviewed the parts of an insect, and I created a page with a word bank. They created their own imaginary insect and labeled the parts, then named it and wrote about it on the back. I was so impressed with some of the ideas they came up with! You can definitely tell what each student is most interested in.
I am finally adding some of the projects we have been working on to the blog. Second graders spent a few weeks working on sea turtle life cycles. We started off with a graphic organizer and gathered info about the parts of the life cycle from One Tiny Turtle by Nicola Davies. We talked about the eggs, hatchlings, juveniles, adults, and then laying eggs. Once students had the information, we needed a way to put it together and I wanted to do something a little craftier than I have tried in the library in the past.
I saw this idea on Pinterest and thought it would work out well. I made a few tweaks but mostly it was pretty similar. I made patterns for each table from manilla folders for the kids to trace and cut out the shapes. They colored the shells and wrote about each stage inside the shells and then glued them to a paper circle.
Showing what parts they need
Tracing the patterns
Writing the information in the shells
They really enjoyed it but it was definitely a different type of classroom management to think about. I started with one pattern of each shape for each table thinking they would be able to share them but it worked much better to have at least a pattern for the shells for each student. I had them trace everything and color the shells before they cut them out. Then they wrote their information and glued them together. It took an extra class or two than I thought it would for most of the classes, but they really liked it so I think I will do it again, but maybe try to find more ways to streamline it.
A Kindergarten class has been working on studying animals that hatch from eggs as a different take on Easter egg festivities. Their Easter baskets have information about four different animals that lay eggs – one on each side. They studied turtles, chicks, butterflies, and frogs. Once they learned about them, they wrote about them in groups and then we created a Blabber for each group. Blabberize is a free to use. Just upload a picture, move the mouth where you want it, and record! Here are some of their finished products. (All pictures used came from Creative Commons.) I tried to embed them, but it didn’t look like it worked, so the links below will take you to the videos. They are each less then a minute long.
Frogs (Give it a second to start, the students didn’t always start right at the beginning of the recording.)
Butterflies 1 and 2 (these were done by individual students, not one group)
I like to start doing research early and even in the younger grades, we start doing it. I did this project closer the to beginning of the year, but never blogged about it for some reason. For first grade, we read and talked about this crocodile book as a whole class. (Crocs are our school mascot.) Then, they completed the 3-2-1 sheet below in pairs. Well, we did the 3 part together, then they did the 2 and 1 sections. The following week, the same pairs did the same thing with various animal books that they read and then talked about with their partners. They love animals, so just gather some lower level animal books and get started!
The photo below is from a similar project with 2nd graders, but I made it a 4-3-2-1 by adding in text feature discussions.