Fun With Animal Units

Spring is just around the corner and what better way to celebrate the vibrant colors and new life of the season than with a unit on the fascinating creatures that roam our planet. If you're having trouble designing your own animal unit, here are some great ideas to use when teaching children between the ages of nine and eleven

Researching Animals

Most students feel as if they have little control over topics discussed and concepts learned. This project allows quite a bit of flexibility and offers a chance for students to feel 'in charge' of their own learning. While a list of acceptable animals to study may be appropriate to keep with prescribed core concepts, allow students to select which animal they are interested in researching. Provide them with a paper divided into four sections for note taking. Use headings like "Animal Characteristics", "Habitat", "Their Young", and "Miscellaneous Interesting Facts". Alter these information categories depending upon the concepts you would like your students to learn.
Simple Animal Report

After a few days spend in the library and computer lab exploring these animals, have your students create a short report about their findings. While you may choose to vary the length, require at least four paragraphs, one for each information category researched. Because gathering information is separated from the writing process, students are less likely to copy and paste information found in resource books and websites. Depending upon class size and time restrictions, it can also be fun to have your students prepare a short presentation for the class, strengthening vital verbal communication skills.

Animal Replicas

Instruct your students to collect a variety of recycled cardboard boxes from cereal, pasta, crackers, etc. and bring them to class. Charge them with the task of creating a replica of their animal using basic shapes made out of collected materials. Not only is this a fun project, it will strengthen problem solving skills and challenge their creativity.

plumpudding: Cereal box turkeys: