Thursday, May 1, 2014
Lions and Tigers and Leopards,  Oh, My!
It’s time to take a trip to the zoo!

Taking a field trip to the zoo seems to be a favorite springtime activity or end of the school year event.  Whether it is traveling by bus or in cars, going to the zoo is an exciting time for children.  Even if you don’t go to a zoo, studying about wild animals is an excellent way to practice many core skills.

Here is a poem we wrote to spark interest in the “wild” cats! 
Click <HERE>to find the FREE poem & pocket chart pictures at our website
A favorite book that covers many different animals is called A Children’s ZOO by Tana Hoban.  It is an excellent book to practice descriptive words using adjectives and verbs.  There are large photos of the animals on the right side and 3 descriptive words about each one on the left page.

This book provides a great springboard for a writing extension!  Ask the students to draw a picture on an animal and write 3 describing words or 2 words and a verb.  On the 4th line, write the name of the animal.  For an extra challenge, try to do an animal for every letter of the alphabet and create an ABC book!  If your class size is under 26 students, ask someone who finishes early to do another page.  If your class size is 26 or over (sorry, we feel your pain!) students may double up on the same letter but a different animal would be selected.   Ex. T= tortoise, tiger etc. 

Here are some of our other favorite books to use when learning about zoo animals.  
When studying tigers or zebras, create a class book cover, with the words "What Has Stripes".  Here are some favorite books about tigers and zebras.  There is even one called "A Bad Case of Stripes"!   

Create a Class book and write about things that have stripes.  Add quotations around their idea and then add ‘said' and (student’s name).  This is a meaningful way to begin the practice of using quotation marks in their own writing.  They get really excited to see what their friends said when asked the question, "What has stripes?"
Ex: “Tigers have stripes,” said Tracy.  
“A rainbow has stripes,” said Denise. 
"Peppermint candy has stripes," said Kendra.
"A dress has stripes," said Amy.
“A cat has stripes,” said Jeremy. 

At the end, add student author pages where the children draw themselves wearing stripes with the caption, “The authors have STRIPES!”
We’ve found it is fun to have the authors as part of the concluding pages of the book. 

Sometimes, half the class can be working on the book about stripes while the other half is writing a book called, "What Has Spots?" This will spark a lot of discussions around the classroom! 

Speaking of spots, one year, after traveling 2 hours on a bus with 2 classes of students, I was faced with seeing "spots"!  Happily we made it to the zoo without any mishaps! But... upon arrival a mom shared with me that she had been sitting beside a child who complained of not feeling well.  After all the children had exited the bus, we took a closer look and sure 'nuf, the child was covered with spots! MEASLES!  Yikes!  The volunteer moms all took turns staying with the child and the rest....well, is history!  Needless to say, the next couple of weeks saw more and more children coming down with "a bad case of spots"!  

Shoebox Animals

We LOVE doing this after our study of wild animals.  It just pulls the unit all together!  
These animals are made out of shoeboxes or other small boxes of differing sizes.
1. Each child selects a box to use as the body of their animal.
2. Cardboard Circles for the heads:  These can sometimes be found at a party store in the cake decorating section. 
Students draw shape of their animal’s head on the circle.  
Since this piece is a heavy material, an adult will need to help cut these out.  A piece of white tag board can also be used.  
3. Students paint their shoebox and animal head.  Allow time for them to dry. 
4. Add the details.  Painting spots, stripes, fur, feathers, etc.
Glue the dried painted head to the front of shoebox after adding the mouth, ears (cut from colored paper), and eyes. 
*Eyes can be bottle cap lids with wiggly eyes glued inside.  Spraying the bottle caps black ahead of time makes them stand out and look like eyelashes!  
*Whiskers can be pipe cleaners (if the real animal has them).
*Add a tail or other details as needed.
*Add legs and feet.  These can be made from painting toilet paper rolls or paper towel tubes.  Add paper paws to the legs for the feet.
*Lastly, glue a small piece of paper inside the box as a liner.  

Bonus!  When the top of animal (the shoebox lid is lifted) the children have a secret place to put their “treasures” in at home!  This was a day for celebrating with everyone dressing up!  Time to take the animals home.  We LOVE these celebrations!

NOTE:  This project will take some time during the week as it has many steps/stages.
Once completed, students can also write about their animal and present them to the class.  They can even start writing midway through the art project as they are VERY motivated!  Encourage them to write either fiction stories or non-fiction reports. 

Here is an art/writing project using paper bags to create a puppet.  The first time we do this one, we model it and they complete the same one together as a whole class. Students are provided with a preprinted paper with a circle for the head and pieces for the ears, eyes, and tail.  Later, in a center, there are pre-made samples of many different animals with their tracing pieces sorted into plastic baggies.  Students can select a favorite animal and trace the necessary pieces to create their own puppet while looking at the model.  Once the kids get good at following the models, they start creating their own paper bag puppets! Oh, the creativity just flows!

All puppets have a writing activity connected to it.  They add information about their animal or why they like it.  Some students have even asked to put on a puppet show.  "Sure," we reply, "but the play needs to be written out and we must review the scripts!"  Off they go, working hard to create their future, albeit fairly short, performance!     

We hope you have been inspired to go "wild" with your Animal or Zoo studies.  Here is a FREE path game we created.  It comes with Editable cards so ANY content can be added that needs practicing.  Click the link below the photo to find it at our TPT "store"!
Enjoy your "wild animals" these last few days of the school year! 
Check out our website for other Free Downloadables


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