January 5, 2016

Mammal & Camouflage Inquiry Unit (First Grade)


We recently wrapped up our integrated study on mammals, camouflage, and map-making (geography) in room 14. From day one of this unit, the students have shown genuine enthusiasm and interest in learning about their favorite mammals and discovering new mammals from all over the world. 

Our unit began with the reading of Mammals by Adele Richardson. From the read-alouds, we learned what makes a mammal a mammal (as opposed to reptiles, amphibians, etc.) and mapped out our acquired information with a bubble map. I also took this opportunity to introduce the features of non-fiction texts. Throughout the rest of the week, we continued to participate in shared readings that introduced new vocabulary words, which we illustrated on post-it notes as we were reading.

Mammal Inquiry First Grade

Mammal Anchor Chart

The historical figure that was integrated into the unit was Jane Goodall. We had two read-alouds that the students had to narrate back at the end of their reading on her life working with the chimps: Me... Jane by Patrick McDonnell and The Watcher by Jeanette Winter.


The students were really excited when at the end of the week they were partnered off and given a big zip-lock bag of plastics animals, which they then had to sort out the mammals from the rest of the different creatures found within our huge animal kingdom. They then had the choice to play some of the various mammal and camouflage file folder games I had on hand, or they could participate in a challenging sort: sorting their group of mammals into groups of carnivores, herbivores, and omnivores.

Mammal Sort First Grade


Students were then divided into small groups to collaborate in designing and building a 3-D zoo with exhibits for four mammals of their choosing. The groups had to then look at all the materials provided to them (which consisted mostly of construction paper, markers, and various types of blocks that were pulled from our classroom tinker station), their mammals, and then consider what their exhibits would have to have in order to reflect the mammal's given habitats. As the children were building, I interviewed each group--asking them questions to explain and support their decisions.  

Zoo Inquiry First Grade
Zoo Inquiry First Grade

Zoo Inquiry First Grade

Zoo Inquiry First Grade

Once their zoos were completed, they then each had to draw a birds-eye view map (with a map key) of their zoo to support and integrate previous map-making skills they had learned in our geography unit.

Zoo Map First Grade

The final component of our unit integrated information writing. Each student picked a mammal of their choice to research and write on. During this latter half of the unit, students learned that researchers read informational texts to gain knowledge on their topic, the difference between writing information and narratives, and the structure of paragraph writing. Student's were given a plan to help support them in their writing.

After the students had written on their mammal, they then edited and published a final paragraph as a zoo plaque (with accompanying picture they drew) onto our whole class zoo map.

Animal Research Writing First Grade
Animal Research Writing First Grade

Animal Research Writing First Grade

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