Saturday, February 23, 2013

Animals in Winter- The Project (Part 1)

After 3 weeks of investigating how animals survive in the winter (See Animals in Winter- The Investigation Phase), we started a project to show what we have learned. We started out by discussing what they wanted the project to show that they learned. They decided that they wanted to show:
1) Some animals hibernate.
2) Some animals adapt.
3) Some animals migrate.

They wanted to create a cave that they could fit in. That was the idea that started their vision. We decided to use our science table as the cave. That lead them to the idea of creating a winter forest habitat on the top of the table (cave) for the animals that adapt. We wondered how to create the habitats for the animals that migrated. They decided on an ocean for the whales and to use the tree by the science table to hang clouds, geese and Monarchs.

After this whole group planning session, the kids picked which part they wanted to work on. They divided into 3 groups. The hibernation group, the adaptation group and the migration group. I had them sign their names on a paper to help them remember which group they were part of.
The next step was for each group to study pictures of the part of the habitat that they were going to create.
Studying pictures before coming up with a plan.
Next, each group drew a plan based on what they noticed in the pictures.

A few of their plans
The next step was painting!  The kids love this part of the process!  They studied the colors on the photos and tried to paint the sky, cave and ocean as realistically as they could.  They also noticed that the cave walls were bumpy so they crumpled up the paper before painting it to make it more rough.

The winter sky
Painting the cave, ocean and evergreens
Clouds and trees also needed to be made.  We had a problem with the trees!  They wouldn't stay up!  So the kids took clay and created a base to solve the problem.  It was great watching them put the trees on their hands and move them back and forth to see if the base kept them up!

Next came the assembly.  They did this fairly quickly because they already had a vision and plan for how this was going to look!  I am so proud of them!  They really paid attention to detail as you will see in the photos!

I never mentioned fixing up the trees but they were intent on fluffing them up!  (Found these trees for $2.00 a piece after Christmas!)
They wanted bark to show that the deer ate bark when food was scarce.
They decided to add a pond for the frogs and turtles.
This one was hiding nuts because thats what the squirrels do!  Can you see them in there?
The winter forest habitat
Our cave made for hibernating.  

Next week, the kids will create the animals, label parts of the projects and write the facts they wanted to include.  After it is finished, each group will practice how they are going to present their part of the project to the rest of the class.  If time allows, maybe we will invite some other classes to see our presentation also!

The management of a project this big was a challenge.  We came up with the idea of having the kids rotate in groups in the afternoon for the days of painting and assembly.  One group worked on the project, one group worked on math stations and one group worked on literacy stations.  I helped with the project work while Mrs. Hoang pulled kids out for guided reading groups and intervention. The rest of the project work should be able to be done whole group or during our exploration time.


  1. I love what you are doing in your class and wonder about the nuts and bolts of getting started I see when they were working you had them in smaller groups. What about the beginning of the investigation? (Or is there a blog post that describes how you get started?). Thanks so much for taking the time to share what you do. Your students are lucky to have you.

    1. Hi Mindy!
      I apologize for taking so long to respond! We start out by investigating our subject whole group, than they chose and expert group to be involved in. Each expert group does further investigation in order to present what they learned to the rest of the class. They take their information, organize it, create something for them to use to teach the other kids or classes about their area of expertise such as a big book, poster, brochure, map, etc., create their project, or their part of a project, then present to the class, other classes and or parents. I did not do all of this here in this particular project about winter animals, but as I have done more projects, this is how I organize it. I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any more questions and I will make sure to answer in a much more timely manner!
      Darla Myers

  2. I love reading your blog. I am constantly taking notes ofr my own Kindergarten class up in BC. Do you bring the supplies in with you? Or do you ask families? What happens to these wonderful projects when you are finished with them?

    1. Thank you Kathleen! I bring in a lot of things. I am always looking for deals! I also ask families for a lot of the recyclable type things that we use. Once they see the type of stuff we use, families start sending in all kinds of things! Some projects stay displayed through the years as a way to preserve history, but others are taken apart at the end of the year or after the kids stop noticing them so that I can use the parts for other projects!
      Darla Myers