Learning Plans & Activities
Animal Fact Cards: Research for Elementary Students

As shown in this assignment, student involvement in determining research topics and posing questions for assignments raises their interest level and helps them focus on the process. Students also use prior knowledge of life science as they make animal fact cards.

Information Literacy/Inquiry Objectives:

Connecting to AASL’s Standards for the 21st-Century Learner:

  • Inquire, think critically, and gain knowledge (1.1.2, 1.1.3, 1.1.7, 1.3.5).
  • Draw conclusions, make informed decisions, apply knowledge to new situations, and create new knowledge (2.1.2, 2.1.4, 2.1.6, 2.2.4).
  • Share knowledge and participate ethically and productively as members of our democratic society (3.1.4).
  • Pursue personal and aesthetic growth (4.1.5).

Curriculum (subject area) Objectives:

(from Nebraska Department of Education)

Life Science:

  • An understanding of the characteristics of living things
  • An understanding of the life cycles of living things
  • An understanding of living things and their environments

Language Arts:

  • Multiple Literacies: identify, locate, and evaluate information
  • Extract and construct meaning from reading
  • Apply the writing process to plan, draft, revise, edit, and publish writing

Grade Level: 3

Resources:

Science curriculum text materials Online subscription databases such as Grolier Online and World Book Online

Age-appropriate animal Web sites such as:

National Wildlife Federation: Kid Zone. http://www.nwf.org/kids

Kids Click!: Animals. http://www.kidsclick.org/midanim.html

Enchanted Learning. http://www.EnchantedLearning.com

Instructional Roles:

The classroom teacher frontloads the characteristics used to identify and describe living things. Students need to understand terms including “vertebrate/invertebrate;” “carnivore/herbivore/omnivore;” “predator/ prey;” and “threatened/endangered/extinct.”

Although the school librarian leads the research process, the students themselves formulate questions and establish the project criteria. Keyboarding skills are reinforced and formatting elements within word processing are taught as necessary to the project.

Both the classroom teacher and school librarian work together to monitor the students’ abilities to take accurate notes and give credit to information sources.

Procedures for Completion:

Duration: 4-5 forty-minute sessions

Students are encouraged to use sticky notes for writing questions and areas of interest as the teacher presents the foundation for the project. These questions are posted on a classroom inquiry wall. Using the computer with projection screen, the school librarian enters ideas that students feel should be covered when researching individual animals. This list is compared with their questions to see that as many ideas as possible are included. The classroom teacher and school librarian use this list to develop an organizer that students use to complete their research (see Animal Fact Organizer).

A list of animals is prepared ahead of time (see Animal List). The list provides available topics so students are successful in their research, but they are not limited to animals on the list. They list their three top choices so that no two children research the same animal.

With organizer in hand and animal selected, the students spend two class periods gathering information. As research nears an end, the whole group meets to determine what should be included on the fact cards.

Again using the computer with projection screen, the school librarian lists information students feel should be on the fact cards. With teacher guidance, information is organized into meaningful categories. Students enter animal information on one side of a page and a picture of the animal of the opposite side (see Animal Fact Card Template).

Students have the option of finding a picture of their animal on one of the online encyclopedia databases or drawing their own. (School rights with both Grolier and World Book include student use of pictures for educational purposes.)

After printing, pages are folded in half so that the picture is on one side and the information on the other. The cards are laminated so that students can handle them like oversized trading cards.

Assessment/Evaluation:

The Animal Card Rubric is used for students to guide their work and for teachers to assess student work (see Animal Card Rubric).

Follow-Up/Extension Activities:

Since students remain interested in animal topics, searching the online library catalog can be reviewed so they can locate additional nonfiction materials for future reading.

Animal Fact Cards can be displayed at an interest center for student viewing. Students are encouraged to sort cards by various criteria. Once this is done, other students can use background knowledge to see if they can determine the sorting criteria.

 

Animal Fact Organizer

Name:

Animal:

Where does my animal live?

What does my animal eat?

Is it a carnivore, herbivore, or omnivore?

What are its characteristics? (size, coloration, special features, life span)

What family is it in?

Is it a vertebrate or invertebrate?

Does it hibernate?

Where is it in the food chain?

Is it a predator, prey, or both? Explain. What does it use for defense?

What is its life cycle?

What are groups of this animal called?

Other interesting facts...

 

Animal Fact Card Template

Name of Animal:
Student Name:


Characteristics:
Family:
Group Name:
Life Span:
Vertebrate/Invertebrate
Endangered:
Hibernation:
Life Cycle:
Needs:
Diet:
Carnivore/Herbivore/Omnivore
Habitat:
Food Chain:
Predator:
Prey:
Interesting Facts:
Information Sources:

Picture of animal

 

Sample Animal List
Invertebrates
Ant
Bee
Butterfly
Centipede
Cicada
Cricket
Earthworm
Grasshopper
Hermit Crab
Horseshoe Crab
Jellyfish
Ladybug
Lobster
Luna Moth
Man-of-war
Mosquito
Octopus
Scorpion
Shrimp
Snail
Slug
Spider
Starfish
Tarantula
Vertebrates

Fish:
Angelfish
Eel
Piranha
Puffer Fish
Seahorse
Shark


Amphibians:
Frog
Newt
Salamander


Reptiles:
Chameleon
Crocodile
Iguana
Gecko
Python
Turtle


Birds:
Cardinal
Eagle
Flamingo
Hummingbird
Parrot
Pelican
Penguin
Owl
Peacock
Turkey

Mammals:
Armadillo
Camel
Bat
Bison
Cheetah
Cow
Deer
Dolphin
Elephant
Fox
Giraffe
Grizzly Bear
Guinea Pig
Hamster
Kangaroo
Koala
Lion
Manatee
Opossum
Panda
Pig
Platypus
Polar Bear
Porcupine
Skunk
Sloth
Tiger
Whale
Wolf
Wombat

 

Animal Fact Card Rubric
Name:Animal:
 BeginningDevelopingSkilledOutstanding
Research ProcessThe research process was not followed.The research process was followed but much help was required.The research process was followed with little help necessary.The research process was followed independently.
Information (including accuracy)Many topics are missing or contain inaccurate information.Covers most of the topics but lacks accurate details.Covers most of the topics accurately.All topics are covered and are accurate.
Writing ProcessMany mistakes in spelling and/or grammar.Several mistakes in spelling and/or grammar.A few mistakes in spelling or grammar.Well-written with no mistakes in spelling or grammar.
Citing SourcesNo sources are cited.Only one source is cited.More than one source is cited but there are errors in citation.Multiple sources are cited without error.
Presentation of the Fact CardNeatly word-processed, not complete and/or does not include an illustration.Neatly word-processed, includes an illustration, but is missing several text components.Neatly word- processed, includes an illustration, but is missing a text
component.
Complete, neatly word-processed, and includes an illustration.
Time on TaskMany reminders were required and work was not completed.Many time reminders were required, but work was completed.Minimal time reminders necessary, but work was completed on time.Time was wisely used and work was completed on
time.

 

Marilyn Potter Scahill

MLA Citation Scahill, Marilyn Potter . "Animal Fact Cards: Research for Elementary Students." School Library Monthly, 26, no. 4, December 2009. School Library Connection, schoollibraryconnection.com/Home/Display/2180584?childId=2017436&topicCenterId=1955265&tab=1.

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Entry ID: 2017436

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