Exploring Animal Habitats

May is our favorite time to dive into an Animal Habitat unit!  The kiddos always love this unit and so do we!  That's what makes it perfect for the end of the year...it is engaging enough to keep the kiddos motivated!  

We start the unit with this organizer.  We use Brain Pop Jr. to learn about different habitats.  After watching short videos about each animal habitat, kiddos draw an animal that lives in the habitat on the recorder.  You can click the picture to grab the organizer!

Click here to grab this Animal Habitat recording sheet for your classroom!

Next, kiddos select an animal they will study and research.  We love to use Pebble Go for research!  Pebble Go delivers Nonfiction in the perfect format for young learners.  It is easy to read or listen to and the facts are laid out so nicely!  Kiddos fill out a recording sheet while they research their animal.
Click here to grab this animal research recording sheet for your classroom!

After selecting an animal to research, kiddos began their Mystery Animal project.  They draw the animal's habitat on the outside flap and on the inside flap, they draw the animal.  On the back of the project, they glue on their facts they researched as "clues."  They love to read them aloud to the class and let others guess their animal!
Front cover of the Guess My Animal project shows the animal's habitat and its eyes 'hiding' in the habitat.
While showing the front cover, kiddos read what they recording during their research time.  Classmates can guess their animals!
Flip up the front cover to see the animal's body!  Were the guesses correct?

Now comes the part the kiddos usually LOVE the most...Habitat Dioramas!  Kiddos begin with making a model of their animal (the same one they researched) using Model Magic clay.  

After the clay animals have dried, they are ready to be painted!

With the animals painted and drying, the kiddos are ready to move onto their dioramas!  We start first with painting in the diorama to look like the animal's habitat.

When the dioramas dry, kiddos add fun crafty things to make the habitat look more realistic.  Here's a sample of some things we like to use:

We like to ask parents to donate items to the classroom and the supplies usually last a couple years!  We collected things like sand, small rocks, fake moss, fake flowers, feathers, pom poms (to be bushes, suns, clouds), raffia ribbon (looks like hay, straw, grass), Easter grass, colored tissue paper.

The final products are so neat to look at and the kiddos are SO proud to show them off!!

A fun, final wrap up to the animal unit is using Animal Grow Capsules.  In partner groups, kiddos watched their capsules grow.
After the animals are finished "growing," kiddos write about their animal.  Again, they use Pebble Go as a resource for animal research.  After finishing the writing piece, kiddos sponge paint their animal at the top of the paper.  These writing pieces can turn into a class book!

Preparing for end of year reading assessments

We are wrapping our ELA assessments this coming week and we wanted to share a few things that we did this year to prepare!  We have almost completed our Running Records!  

Here is what we worked on ALL YEAR to prepare:

Our reading groups took on a new look.  We tried to balance reading books and passages each week.  We knew kiddos needed practice with both. 

All of our students, including our emergent readers needed practice with written response and providing proof / evidence.   The passages below allowed us to reach all of our students. These passages are written in a way that most students can read and feel successful. There is a mix of fiction and nonfiction passages within the pack.  Each passage contains three tasks; all of which require the students to go back to the text to highlight the evidence prior to recording their answer.

We found these very useful in our classroom, but needed more passages, so we created a seasonal version as well.  The passages below are also for emergent readers!  They contain stories about topics specific to each month of the year (holidays, special events, themes, etc).  All of the passages contain three questions that require evidence to be highlighted prior to recording answers; just like the pack above. 

Since we have a mix of reading abilities in our classroom, we also used:

 The questions that are asked within this pack are scaffolded so kiddos have lots of support to provide written response, then some support is taken away, and finally students are responding to text and providing evidence on their own.  

Our practice with reading and written response didn't stop at school; the homework we send home each week includes a reading passage (differentiated), comprehension questions (both multiple choice and written response), nonsense words, and language questions.  We think having exposure to reading passages and responding to text at home and school was beneficial for sure!

One story...3 levels of difficulty; with a fluency table to track improvement through the week:

Comprehension Questions and Language practice:

Available for KG, FIRST, and SECOND

  One last tidbit...handing out "tickets" to a popsicle party after completing assessments has been a big hit!  We are proud of our kiddos and we want them to know it...hard work being first graders these days!