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Animal Research and Giant Tongues

My 2nd graders just completed their Animal Research Projects as our expository writing project this quarter.  They turned out so cute!!  We pulled a lot of the ideas from the "Not Your Average Animal Research Paper" unit from Lesson Plan SOS.  To begin, we pulled *tons* of 2nd grade appropriate books about animals from the school library.  {Love my Media Specialist - she was so a-maz-ing-ly helpful during this process!!  I came back to class with about 50 different interesting animals for the kids to choose from!}  The kids did a gallery walk with the books, previewing lots of interesting texts to select the animal they would like to learn more about.  Since I had such a wide array of animals, we didn't have many issues; I had 2 girls who both wanted giraffes, but one of them decided to study Harp Seals instead.
Anywhoo, then the modeling began.  As a class, we studied the Giant Anteater using this book.  
I modeled how to use non-fiction text features, like headings, bold print, an index,  and a table of contents to search for specific information.  My kiddos were especially excited to learn that the tongue of a Giant Anteater is about 24 inches long, compared to a human's 4 inch long tongue.  <<We incorporated a bit of measurement here!  Nothing like giant tongues to get 7 and 8 year olds excited!!>>  To scaffold my green beans as they search for information, my teammate Casey and I created an Animal Research Fact Tracker.  I made a large version on chart paper, and each kiddo had one for their own notetaking.  
Download from Google Docs here!

We also used WB Animals (an IPad app that is so very cool!!), Grolier's online animal encyclopedia called Amazing animals, actual encyclopedias, and magazines.  If you are considering a research project for your little ones, I highly recommend this one - I was able to incorporate research skills, writing skills, technology, geography, vocabulary, and non-fiction text elements during our 3 week project.  For a celebration, I let the class read theirs to different partners in the class, and then we shared them with partners in Casey's class, too!!  We didn't even serve snacks, and they had so much fun.  Love it!


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