Can I just say, YEEHAW. Last week we worked with non-fiction farm books and researched farm animals. The kids LOVED it. Our county has "blue prints" that we must follow for reading, language arts, math, science and social studies. Last week, there was a "free" week of sorts in that there was not a reading story assigned in the reading series.
So, to prepare the kids for this week's Amazing Animals story, I had us focus on farm animals. I put one of four farm animal books in each corner of the room and the kids went and kids self selected the animal he/she wanted to learn about. Amazingly enough, each group ended up with 3-4 kids. I couldn't have planned it better if I made the groups!
Each group had to read the book together and then create a tree map (one of our Thinking Maps) to classify the information into 3 groups. Our subtitles were characteristics, food and jobs on the farm. Each child was assigned a number (1-4) and each number had a job. 1- Create the tree map, 2- write the characteristics... It was a total group project and all the kids were engaged and working cooperatively.
The next part of the project was to draw a diagram and label their animal. Again, each number was assigned a job. 1- Draw the head, 2- draw the body... I only had one group where one child tried to take over and draw the majority of the animal. It was truly wonderful to observe as they worked together to match the proportions of the body to the animals.
Later in the day, they had to share their finding with their classmates. This was the magical part (insert angels singing!) as they shared and discussed the similarities and differences of the animals. I was waiting to see if my ELL and quieter children would shy away from this, but they jumped right in and did their part.
The paints FINALLY came out and each group member painted the part they drew. We traced the diagrams with black sharpies before we painted to help them pop, and then dove right in.
The following day, we worked independently during Daily 5 to write our informational pieces on our farm animals. They were able to use the group's tree map, the diagram and the book for information about their animal. I requested a minimum of 5 sentences and encouraged them to use a question to grab the reader.
The final art projects were inspired by Deanna Jump's Down on the Farm Unit. Deanna gives dimensions for the farm animals, but I decided to show the kids her picture and have them create their own. I love the final results!
One last thing...if you have hung on this long, head on over to Keepin' It Kool in KinderLand for an enormous giveaway. I am giving away one of my units there too:)