In my school, we use a hybrid schedule in the library. This means that all lessons taught in first through third grade are done in collaboration with the homeroom teacher. The goal is to teach the library and classroom curriculum together to allow for authentic learning experiences. The project below is an example of the merging of these two curriculums.
Grade Level: 2nd Grade
The inspiration for this project came from a book called Crossings: Extraordinary Structures for Extraordinary Animals by Katy S. Duffield. After reading this book I shared it with the second-grade teachers. In second grade, they are currently working on a nonfiction animal project. During this unit, students visit the Detroit Zoo and choose an animal they would like to learn more about. They collect facts at the zoo as well as through other nonfiction print and digital resources. There is a writing activity, as part of the unit, where they will use their facts to create diary entries as if they are that animal. In addition to their diary, they will use the facts they collected to create a crossing or other structure to help their chosen animal survive. This part of the project is highlighted below.
Lesson 1: Learn about Animal Crossings
- Explore/Think V.A.1 – Read widely and create for a variety of purposes
- Inquire/Grow I.D.3 – Enacting new understanding through real-world connections
- Book: Crossings: Extraordinary Structures for Extraordinary Animals by Katy S. Duffield
- Photographs of Real Life Crossings or Other Structures
- 5 min: Introduce the book and explain what an animal crossing is. Explain that these types of crossings are created by scientists, engineers, architects, and construction workers. All of these people have to work together to figure out how to build a crossing that will best benefit the animal.
- 15 min: Read and discuss the book. Point out examples where the crossing was designed with the animal in mind. For example, they built an underpass for elephants because of how much they weight or used a rope for the Titi Monkey because it looks like a vine, etc.
- 10 min: Look at photographs of the crossings we read about. Have students talk about each of these crossings and how they connect with the book.
- Students will be able to verbally share what an animal crossing is and identify some examples.
Tips & Tricks:
- The book is on the longer side and leads to a lot of discussion so pacing while you are reading is important or you will not have time to look at some of the photographs in this first session.
- The last two slides shown in the photographs are not examples from the book. Since we are having students create a crossing for their chosen animal we needed to show some examples of structures that were created for animals that fly. This allows students who have chosen a bird or something that swims to think about a structure that might help their animal as well.
Lesson 2: Plan Your Crossing
- Explore/Create V.B.1 – Problem-solving through cycles of design, implementation, and reflection
- Collaborate/Think III.A.3 – Deciding to solve problems informed by group interactions
- 5 min: Review what an animal crossing is and have students share examples of the crossings we read about.
- 25 min: Explain how to complete the Animal Crossing Planning Page and model how to fill in each part. Then have students complete their own page.
- Students will have a completed planning page where they will have determined what type of structure they will create and what supplies they will need.
Tips & Tricks:
- For some students identifying the challenges that their animal faces is fairly easy but for others, they may need support to look up more information to identify the obstacle for their animal. This is needed to determine the type of structure they will plan to create.
- It is helpful to list some common supplies that they might be able to use or find in the makerspace when completing the final question on their planning page.
Lessons 3 and 4: Build Your Crossing
- Inquire/Create I.B.3 – Generating products that illustrate learning
- Inquire/Share I.C.4 – Sharing products with an authentic audience.
- Explore/Create V.B.2 – Persisting through self-directed pursuits by tinkering and making.
- Supplies that students collected from the Makerspace
- Supplies listed on their planning page
- Lots of tape and/or hot glue
- 5 min: Have students review their planning page so they are ready to build
- 25 min: Have students create their crossing or structure for their animal. When students are finished, make sure to give them time to share what they have built and why they created it.
- Students will have a completed crossing and be able to share how it will help solve a challenge for their chosen animal.
Tips & Tricks:
- Hot glue matters…teacher-directed of course! This makes a big difference if something is going to stay together or not.
- Teaching students how to connect tubes to other pieces of cardboard allows for more successful structures.
- Reminding students to look back at their plan helps when they get stuck.
Some great project examples:
- A water purification system for the axolotl
- A tunnel for a grizzly bear to go under a road
- A house structure for red pandas that can be placed around the rainforest
AASL. 2018. AASL Standards Framework for Learners. https://standards.aasl.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/180206-AASL-framework-for-learners-2.pdf
Author: Kelly Hincks
I am the librarian at Detroit Country Day Lower School in Bloomfield Hills, MI. I have worked as a school librarian for the past eleven years. I was a classroom teacher for four years prior to that. I have worked in charter, public, and private schools. My favorite thing about being a school librarian is the opportunities I have to work both with students and teachers. I love the co-teaching opportunities and connections I have been able to make! I have served on AASL committees as a member and chair. I currently serve as secretary of my state association, Michigan Association of School Librarians (MASL).