Investigating Animals to "Digest" Information Literacy
Investigating Animals

Recently, a quartet of young owls has taken up residency in our local dog park. They perch high in their chosen eucalyptus tree, white downy feathers glinting in the sunlight as their watchful gaze swivels around, unperturbed by the four-legged creatures playing below. An inquisitive friend of mine, eager to learn more about them, collected a freshly deposited pellet from under the tree and is, as I write, in the process of dissecting it to learn more about the owls' diet. This freedom to explore nature is one of the best gifts of summer.

Hopefully, many of your students are getting the opportunity to spend a little more time outside themselves to notice and wonder about the birds, bugs, mammals, or aquatic life surrounding them. Transfer this curiosity back into the library when students return this fall with one of these animal-centric lessons that balance STEM topics with information literacy skills.

Dissecting your students' work might help you discover where their explorations took them over the summer!


Animals by Deborah J. Jesseman

In this lesson, students will investigate and understand that animals have life needs and specific physical characteristics. They will research a particular animal and learn about key elements such as habitat, diet, physical characteristics, and location.

What Is That Hiding in My Backyard? (And, Can I Keep It?) by Liz Deskins

Students can participate in this lesson to learn that all living things have basic needs and that the backyard habitat provides this for many animals. Help your students take inquiry and information literacy into their favorite natural setting.

All Bugs by Joyce Keeling

Here, students will recognize nonfiction or informational books and then discover and illustrate a fact for each bug.

"Getting Buggy" by Deborah Jesseman and Pamela Cassel

This lesson utilizes fiction stories by David Biedrzycki and nonfiction books to review research and technology skills while exploring insects.


Repackaged Animal Report: Put Me in the Zoo! by Paige Jaeger

Education evolves and repackaging lessons is essential to vibrant and useful student learning. Paige Jaeger helps school librarian Lauren Abad through an overhaul for her animal report lesson for 3rd grade students and they design a more dynamic plan.

Endangered Animals by Deborah J. Jesseman

The lesson is designed to enhance the understanding of how humans can influence the animal population. Students will research a particular animal that is on the endangered or extinct list and learn about key elements such as habitat, diet, physical characteristics, and location.

For additional suggestions about books focused on endangered species, see this resource list compiled by Kay Weisman.

And the Ground Began to Shake: A New Twist to Animal Research by Chris Haeffner

This lesson uses animals and their habitats for the premise of research and requires students to ask questions, analyze information, and creatively hypothesize in an imaginative writing activity.

Animal Fact Cards: Research for Elementary Students by Marilyn Potter Scahill

In this lesson, students' practice determining research topics and posing questions for assignments as they make animal fact cards.

Jane Cullina

MLA Citation Cullina, Jane. "Investigating Animals to 'Digest' Information Literacy." School Library Connection, June 2019,

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Entry ID: 2213496

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