Showing posts with label animals. Show all posts
Showing posts with label animals. Show all posts
Traditionally, in first grade, I've taught animal classification and the human body for our state science standards.  But with the introduction of the Next Gen Science Standards, life science has shifted to organism structures and heredity.  So, I've developed a new unit to align better with these newer standards.  And I'm SUPER pumped about how we are learning our new big idea: "Organisms have tools for survival!"

Here's an overview of what's covered in our organisms unit.
{Affiliate links are included in this blog post to support this website and my chocolate addiction! :)}

Week 1: What Are Organisms?

The first week of the unit we learn a lot of vocabulary needed for this unit.  We learn what the difference is between living and non-living things through this sort (a digital interactive version is available too!) and this fun organism song.

Then, we start charting what plants and animals can do, have, and need to survive.  We finish this week by comparing plants and animals to gain a deeper understanding of these two categories of organisms.

Week 2: How Are Offspring Like Their Parents? How Do Offspring Learn To Survive?

During the first part of the second week, we learn how babies are like their parents.  We read about and chart names for different animal babies and how they learn to survive.  And we play find your partner with baby animals and their parents.

Then, we research our own traits that we get from our parents.  We send home a family traits survey (with several options for atypical families with adopted or fostered children, etc...).

After the family traits survey homework is returned, we do a carousel activity to tally our trait data for everyone in our class by observing our inherited traits.

And during our math time, we graph our inherited traits!

Week 3: What Do Organisms Use To Survive?

This week we start off by learning about plant parts.  But our focus is to go deeper and learn their jobs for helping the plant survive.  We make a plant parts jobs flip book with this adorable craft option!

Then, we shift to animals and read about adaptations that animals have made to survive.

We set up adaptation stations around the room for kids to rotate through and explore and experience 8 different adaptations animals make.  You can read more about this in depth in this blog post (coming soon!)

One of my favorite activities during these stations is matching animal adaptations to ways humans mimic those adaptations.  It's a great way to build up that background knowledge for the upcoming STEM project later in the week!

STEM Challenge: Copy Cat

During the end of week 3, we work on our STEM challenge!  This one is called copy cat because students are mimicking an organism adaptation to build something to solve a human problem.  This challenge come straight from the Next Gen Standards.

I'm going to be honest here, ya'll.  When I first saw this engineering standard, I was like, "What the heck????"

No lie.  #realtalk

But once I got into creating this unit, I actually really, TRULY love this challenge now.  I feel like we have set up our first graders with enough background knowledge, examples, and experiences with adaptations to help them be successful with this challenge.

Want to see how this challenge works exactly?  And how to make it attainable for littles?  Read this blog post for more detail! (coming soon!)  Here's a sneak peak...

Organism Trade Book List

Want links to the trade books I use in this unit?

Find all of the affiliate links here!
What's Alive
Animal Babies
Animal Babies On the Farm
All In The Family - heredity
How Animal Babies Stay Safe
Born in the Wild
Raising Babies: What Animal Parents Do
Are You My Mother?
The Ugly Duckling
Experiment with Parts of a Plant
The Tiny Seed
What If You Had Animal Feet?
What Do You Do With A Tail Like This?

Snag this unit or grab this bundle of all Next Gen Science Standard Units for First Grade and save!

Happy October!  It's starting to finally get cool here in Arkansas, and I'm ready for cardigans and scarves!  At school, October is the time where we are really digging into some good content now that our routines are {mostly} under control! :)  We learn about animal groups and the human body in Science because it ties in so nicely with Halloween and skeletons!   Here is my must-have list of science read alouds for October!

These books are fabulous read alouds for learning about parts of our body during our Animal Unit.  We use it as we chart our shared research about organs and areas of our body with our human body collaborative posters {get the details here}.  They also make great classroom library books for first graders to shop for! 

I love this read aloud and the dvd too!  We use this for our collaborative body posters when we add our digestive system!

Once we finish up the human body, we move onto comparing and contrasting animal groups!  We use these animal group read alouds to fill in our shared research anchor charts about each animal group.  Once again, these are a great independent reading level for many first graders, so they are a great addition for guided reading or our classroom library.

I got all of these True or False books by accident with a book order one time--but they are AWESOME!  They are engaging reads, super interesting, and the kids LOVE trying to guess whether the facts are true or false!

During our animal unit, we learn about shapes and geometry during math.  So, at the end of our unit we use this book as the launch for our shape animals project!  While my firsties work in groups to research their animals, they also make their animal out of shapes to display in the hallway with their animal research writing.  I love this STEM connection at the end of this unit!

To use my Arkansas lingo, we are "smack dab" in the middle of our Animals Unit, which means we are all about using non-fiction features in informative writing during writers' workshop.

I've blogged some about the graphic organizers I use to teach informative writing, but I wanted to give some love to some other anchor charts that are super important in my room during our non-fiction writing units!

We have been studying non-fiction texts and their text features during Readers' Workshop...

{still waiting on my crazy color ink to arrive so I can print these cards and hang them up....I've already taught them with kids and shown them the cards on our smart board...just waiting....still waiting... #thestruggleisreal}  You can grab those cards HERE and hopefully have yours up on your wall faster than I can! :)

As we read and researched animals and our human body during our Science Squeeze {aka...teeny tiny block of time dedicated to science....can I get an amen???}, we recorded topics that we became "experts" in so that we would have a class list of topics we could write to teach about!

In writers' workshop, after spending some time on our non-fiction graphic organizer {grab a copy HERE}, we moved on to teaching our readers like authors teach us!
{Find both of the anchor chart templates here.  Just print and fill in with your kids!}

Each day I taught a mini-lesson focusing on one of these points from the anchor chart.  We also connected each strategy to the text features we are studying during readers' workshop....

We teach with diagrams and labels because non-fiction authors use those text features....

We make our smart words bold print because that's how non-fiction authors teach get us to notice their smart words...

We also charted smart words as we researched birds this week to get some practice listening for and picking out smart words from a source!  It's easy to do when you are looking at the text because of bold print, but it's much harder when you are just listening or watching a video!  First graders easily confuse a smart word and a fact sentence, so this practice was really, really good helpful for my firsties!

And the last strategy...We write twin sentences because non-fiction authors use those to help define the bold printed, smart words...

I modeled writing using that strategy and then we practiced independently.  During share time, I chose students to share who showed the strategy we focused on for the day!  And they are really catching on!  Using real non-fiction text features during writers' workshop really has a way of engaging kids because it makes them feel like the "real" authors they are!

These lessons are from the writing portion of my Animals Unit and that packet includes anchor chart templates as well as detailed daily and weekly lesson plans for writers' workshop!
Anyone else feel like science and social studies are the first thing to get cut in K-2?

Like the only science you may do in October is a cute TpT printable with a pumpkin slapped on it?

No judgement here.  It happens in my room too.

And more so this year....

This year I'm at a new school with a different schedule.  I have 1 hour--yes, 1 hour--of planning time every day....and, no, I'm not ABOUT to complain about it! ;)  But that is 20 minutes less of instruction time than last year.  Add in a full 30 minute recess again (Thank you, Jesus....) and I have about 30 minutes each day that isn't in our classroom that has been in years past.

PLUS, 4 days a week, we switch for intervention/extra guided reading groups for AN HOUR!

So, I'm slim to none on time for direct content this year.   And that makes my heart sad because I love teaching content to littles and the firsties *l*o*v*e* science and social studies.  Sure, I'm able to integrate some non-fiction read alouds that tie into our units and write about the topics we learn about, but it's always nice to have a few days of direct content teaching.  So, I was determined to find a way to squeeze in some science this year even with the little time I had in my classroom...

My compromise has been not teaching as much...and teaching in 10-15 minute windows of time...during our "snack" time.  While kids eat their snack each day, we do a little bit of content.  Also, on Mondays when we don't have an hour long intervention time, I have a larger block of time to do some longer science activities.

Right now we are in the middle of our Animals unit so my weekly schedule looks like this...

Mondays (30 minute block because we don't have intervention):

We start the week by introducing the animal group we will be learning about for that week by doing a close reading on a passage about the animal.  Ideally, this is not what I would do first...but since this activity takes longer and Mondays are the days I have more time, this is what I'm doing first this year.

{Also, when we start doing the human body after break...I will be able to use my Monday time for our hands-on-projects since I will have a little more time!}

Here's a close read of muscles from last year's human body study... {Read a detailed blog about my close reading procedures here.}

We began our unit talking about listening for specific details--called key details--in a text.  We discussed what specific information would be important to know about each group of animals {this information was determined by my Arkansas State Science Frameworks for animal classification}.

This really helps focus our research and conversation.

As we find key details in our close read we chart our facts.  This chart will be added to throughout the week...

Tuesdays (10-15 minute block during snack time):

We review information we charted from the previous day and watch part of an Animal Atlas video on our animal group.  The Animal Atlas videos are about 20 minutes long so we usually watch one part during snack and the rest of it after we clean up in the afternoon instead of a read aloud or class meeting.  Other weeks, I have a really good book I want to read so I just do a read aloud on one of these days.  And another great source on animals is Pebble Go.

No matter what text we use or what source we use to get our information, we are still listening for key details and charting those using anchor chart templates from my Animals Unit Packet.  We also chart other interesting details--we call focus facts--as well.

Wednesdays (10-15 minute block during snack time):

Again, we review our research and learning we've charted all week and then we have Wonder Wednesdays and work on writing a question we are wondering about our animal group.  To filter the questions down to an amount that's doable, I have each group talk together and agree upon one question to write.  They write their question on a sticky note and then bring it to me to read and add to our chart.
{{{Side Note: I get this question every year. Every. Stinkin'. Year.  Still trying to rack my brain as to why this didn't get asked for the first time in 10 years... :)}}}
If we have time, we start researching and answering questions....if not, we wait until later in the week.


Thursdays are my crazy days.  You know, the one where I have an extra 30 minute activity/planning time and an additional P.E. time to satisfy our physical activity laws...

So, yeah, content doesn't usually happen on this day. #realtalk

HOWEVER, we do usually start writing about our animal group on Thursdays.  Sometimes we are ready to start on Wednesdays, and sometimes it's Thursdays.  It just depends on our week.  Here's a past blog on how I do informative writing on animals.

Fridays (10-15 minute block during snack time):

We spend Fridays researching our questions and recording our answers during snack time.  The kids absolutely love this and learn quickly that sometimes answering questions just leads to more questions to ask!

Plus, it's a great opportunity to talk about sources of information on the internet and how to find a trusted source.

So, yes, I'm teaching less direct content this year....but I'm doing what I can because it's what keeps first graders engaged!  And the great thing about science and social studies in the younger grades is that so much of it is literacy based.  When we are learning to read and write non-fiction, why not just use non-fiction texts on a theme {animals} to drive that learning?  That's the easiest time saver I've found to teach literacy skills and content all at the same time!

How do you find time to squeeze in science and social studies?
We are now at the end of our class-fav animal research unit!

We spent the first 2 weeks learning about the human body {read about that HERE.}

Then we spent the next 3 weeks researching groups of animals.  Let's chat about animal research in first grade!

We read about, researched, charted and compared 2 groups of animals each week.  We focused on finding two types of facts: Focus facts, or facts that answer specific questions... We charted these on our Promethean board with the anchor chart that's included in my animals unit.  These specific facts cover our science state standards so that's why we chose these as our focus facts.

We also listened for "frilly facts" as we read our non-fiction texts.  Frilly facts were defined in our classroom as other interesting facts that are not our focus facts.  However, we did separate out some facts on our frilly facts charts that were pretty important to that group of fins and gills for Fish.

...And each of our table groups were renamed for an animal group during this unit!

We used this Scholastic set of books as our main texts.  We also used these close reading passages {read how that works in our first grade room HERE} from my animals unit.

Each week, students wrote an informational piece about each animal and then wrote an opinion piece each week on their favorite animal group from that week.

Last week, we started researching our animals.  They worked in groups of 2-3 and used our iPads to read a PebbleGo article on their chosen animal.  I also printed out other text for them to read as well!

They recorded their research on webs from the unit.

Then, they wrote an informational piece on their own about their group's animal.  {We wrote individually because this doubled as their end of quarter writing assessment...I have also had them write in groups in the past!}

This week, we were ready to prepare for presentations.  We practiced for our presentations {practiced introducing themselves, telling the audience their animals and reading what they wrote about their animals...}

We also took a day to make animal headbands for those kiddos who would need help with props.  These headbands turned out soooo cute!  Sometimes--actually a LOT of times--I'm shocked at the creativity of kiddos and how well their work can turn out if they are engaged with a purpose!  These headbands were just presh!
I should add the disclaimer that not all of these animals are from my sweet teammates were so kind in letting me use some pics of their animal headbands too!

They were totally into this.  One kiddo in my rattlesnakes group made a 3 foot tail for his snake.  When I asked about it, he insisted he had to have it that long so he could tuck it into his shirt and the rattle would hang out under his shirt! :)

Another gal, asked me to staple her killer whale's tail fin so it would move up and down since, "that's how they really swim anyways!"

This year, we decided to have our kids dress up as their animal!  We sent notes home with the parents, stressing that no major costume was needed...they could simply help their child dress in the color of their animal!

Most of the kids came in their animal's color(s).  And several kids brought some sort of costume or props!  Even just wearing the animal color turned out so cute for presentations!

This little zebra went all out for her boa tail and all!
 Precious little tiger shark!!

This one is a little blurry, but it was the best shot I could get of these sweeties before they took their costumes off!  Love the poster board fins!  I've got such creative families this year!

And our little rattlesnake friend I pictured earlier....
...brought a baby rattle as a prop!  And another sweetie in this group had a jingle bell she brought to rattle!  The hilarious part is that they shook that rattle and jingled that bell during the entire presentation as background noise!  I mean... you just never know what these kids are going to think of next!!

The presentations turned out well, but we could definitely have used more practice using our LOUD presenter voices!!  Guess we are going to have to find more ways to present in groups this year.  For whatever reason, they seem to present much louder and clearer on their own during our routine math and writing share times!

And with our animal unit behind us, our classroom will be turning into Santa's workshop next week...with my little "elves" building gifts for parents and other fun Christmas activities!
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