Lesson plan

Animal Research

Who doesn’t love learning about animals? Engage students in research as they write informational books about animals.
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Animals are fun to research aren’t they? Students get to think about what an animal looks like, what an animal eats, where an animal lives, and other fun facts in this open-ended activity. After conducting research on the animal of their choice, kids will take on a creative project to help them present what they learned. In the lesson plan Animal Research, first graders take a look at the writing process and supporting ideas with evidence in writing.

  • Students will be able to conduct research to answer questions.
  • Students will be able to write informational books where they name a topic, supply some facts about it, and provide a sense of closure.
(5 minutes)
Tell About Animals
  • Show students a book about an animal. Just focus on the cover -- don’t show them the inside of the book.
  • Tell students that the book is about the animal. Ask them what types of information they think might be included in the book. List their ideas on the board.
(10 minutes)
  • Say, “Today we are going to research and write informational books about animals.”
  • Show students the animal books that you’ve collected. Depending on the technology that you have available, students can also conduct research online.
  • Introduce the Tell About Animals worksheet. Pick an animal to research and model how to complete the questions on the worksheet.
(10 minutes)
  • Now tell students that they will use their research to create an informational book about their animal.
  • Take out four pieces of paper. Tell students that they will write one section of their book on each page. The four sections will be: What My Animal Looks Like, What My Animal Eats, Where My Animal Lives, and Fun Facts.
  • Model how to plan for writing the words on the page. Show students how to consult their Tell About Animals worksheet to write the words in each section.
  • Turn the worksheet over and explain to the students that writers include a ClosureAt the end of their writing, something to "wrap up" what they wrote about.
  • Write "These are the things I learned about ____." on the back of the worksheet. Complete the sentence stem by filling in an example animal.
  • Reiterate that they should include a closing sentence on the back of their worksheets.
(35 minutes)
  • Have students begin by researching an animal of their choice using the Tell About Animals worksheet by using at least one informational book (or online resource).
  • After their planning worksheet is complete, students can move onto planning and writing the words in their books.

Enrichment: Have students share their books with others, eliciting feedback from peers and revising their books accordingly.

Support: Write sentence frames to guide students in creating each section of their book. For example, “The ____ lives in ____.”

  • Have students conduct animal research online.
(5 minutes)
  • Assess students’ understanding by noticing how they complete their books. Pay attention to how students conduct research and use the information they learned when writing their books.

EXTENDED ASSESSMENT (Over the space of a week)

  • Extend this lesson by introducing digital tools to produce and publish an informative writing piece, such as StorybirdOr Tikatok.
  • Allow students sufficient time to explore these digital tools with peers prior to publishing their writing.
  • Instruct students to research another animal and include a topic sentence, at least three facts about their animal, and a sense of closure. Encourage students to find a photograph they like to print out and include on their writing piece as well as draw an illustration of their animal.
  • Set up a "Gallery Walk" with the student's published work at the end of the week and invite students to view their classmate's finished informative writing pieces!
(5 minutes)
  • Have students share their books with partners. Call the class back together to share what they learned from reading each other’s books.
  • Remind students that informative writing has a topic, facts about the topic, and a sense of closure.
  • Close the lesson by asking students what other topics or animals they would like to research in the future!

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