Saturday, November 14, 2015

Animal Creations

     I am so excited to share an amazing project that we did in our classroom this week! To start off, I just want to share some background information. Our district strongly promotes the 4C's in instruction and teaching: collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and communication. Being new this year, I really wanted to push myself to design some meaningful project based experiences that would require my third graders to collaborate, thin critically and creatively, and communicate effectively and clearly to peers and adults. With that in mind, I dug into our Social Studies and Science curriculum and looked for opportunities to supplement/enhance student learning with projects.
     With the help of one of my third grade team members and a fabulous parent, we came up with this project. In third grade in Michigan, students are expected to be able to "identify and compare structures in animals used for controlling body temperature, support, movement, food-getting, and protection (for example: fur, wings, teeth, scales). " Instead of simply reading about these different structures and adaptations, I really wanted to push my kids to apply their skills in a a different context. We took a week to go over animal habitats and research different animal adaptations for a given habitat.
     The next week, the students were given a creature card. Students were asked to design a creature to survive on a different planet given specific constraints. Each creature card told the student what their creature ate, what type of habitat they lived in, and how the creature moved from one place to another ( flying, swimming, walking, etc).  Students were then given one science period to plan out their creature. They were able to look at all of the materials that they could possibly use in their design. These were the requirements for their plan: list the materials that will be used, draw a picture of creature with adaptations labelled.

The next day, the students started creating!

The students LOVED this project. Every day, they were so excited for our end of the day science project. Even more importantly, the kids were engaged. Students were given three days to complete their creatures. They then were asked to write about their adaptations to prepare for their presentation. The following day, every student was given a chance to visit other students' creations and ask questions. Each student gave a brief one minute presentation to peers, and then peers asked questions using the following guiding questions.

Here are some of the creatures that my kiddos came up with! They did a fantastic job thinking outside of the box, and they were able to apply their knowledge of habitats and adaptations to design their creature to survive in their environment. They rocked it! Check these out!

 I'm really glad I took the risk and tried out this new project. The kids were able to apply their science skills about animals while being engaged in a fun, hands on project! Great job third graders!

Happy Teaching!

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