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TeachNet Grant: Lions and Tigers and Bears - Oh My!
Jeffrey Gross

Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Elementary School, PS 153
1750 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, NY 10031

Grades 1-5 Language Arts, Social Studies, Science, Math, Media Technology and Arts.
About the Grant:

Students will develop both individual and collaborative research projects focusing on different animals. The students will research their chosen topic and then document their work by creating a detailed work of "non-fiction" art. Individual student interest will determine ending projects. A menu of options will include designing books, placemats, or game cards or creating a theatrical response. Additionally, students will have an opportunity to work in groups to publish a class A to Z PowerPoint presentation with a companion book.

Through a variety of research methods, students will investigate different animals, their habitats and their daily lives. They will use the Internet as both a research tool as well as a gateway to images and information about their topic of choice.

The students will have an opportunity to study different habitats as well as animals. Students will use media, books and the Internet to research information about different animals. For example, students could learn about searching for pictures and information on the Internet and then participate in a group discussion about the book Without You. Through both online and offline examples, students will learn about different elements of design. Additionally through presentational software such as PowerPoint, they will be able to create a personal multimedia presentation. Students will also be able to compare and contrast different animal habitats based on location and weather data.

Final Project/Product - In order to foster differentiated instruction, students will have a choice of end product that is based on their interest and/or skill level. Students will have the opportunity to create a piece of "Non-Fiction" art. This could take the form of book, computer presentation, theatrical response, calendar, poster, or set of placemats. Additionally, the students will create a class A to Z book about animals and animal diversity.

Overall Value - The students will benefit from learning in such a creative manner. They will have many opportunities to tap into their individual interests as well as develop a range of critical educational skills. Students will participate in a truly integrated curriculum. They will use the Internet as a research tool as they learn about animal habitats. The Internet will serve as a gateway for real life application. For example, a second grader who is studying penguins will be able to find the current temperature in Antarctica and compare it to the current New York temperature rather than just hearing that "it's cold".

By engaging the technology arts and tapping into the different learning styles of the students, there will be opportunities for success for all learners, including the reluctant or struggling. Additionally, by preserving the students' work and creating interesting projects, the students can become more invested and inspired.

How This Grant was Adapted:

An assortment of age appropriate, non-fiction and fiction, animal books. Without You by Sarah Weeks, Best Friends (Owen And Mzee) by Isabella Hatkoff will be used as anchor texts; computer with Internet access; digital projector; PowerPoint or word processing application; color paper; crayons; markers; colored pencils; laminating paper; animal stencils; printer.

Teachers can adapt this unit for any type of study. It is important to find an area that truly interests your students. For example, I have found that many 7 year-olds love science and animals. Second graders are often an inquisitive bunch so a placemat can be a real canvas for their questions and answers. However, if students were studying place value, both the end product and research methods could still be applied. For example, a fifth grader could focus on populations across continents or states.

Project URL

Is your project already online? If so, please post the link here and a brief description of your web site. Since your project is already on the web, you do not have to include specific lesson plans, and are only required to complete sections 1-3 to be eligible.


Objective 1: Students will be able to identify, describe, and compare characteristic of different animals.

Objective 2: Students will learn the meaning of habitat.

Objective 3: Students will explore the nonfiction genre.

Objective 4: Students will learn that the Internet can be used as a research tool.

Objective 5: Students will learn about documenting sources in research.

Objective 6: Students will learn to formulate research questions.

Objective 7: Students will be introduced to graphic design.

Objective 8: Students will learn to collect data as it relates to weather.

Objective 9: Students will learn to work in collaborative research groups.

Objective 10: Students will publish a collaboratively written and designed presentation and book.

Websites Used

Link 1: http://pbskids.org/krattscreatures/flash.shtml
Description: A companion website with interactive activities to the PBS television show, Kratts' Creatures. This website taps into kid's curiosity with a fun approach to scientific exploration.

Link 2: http://owenandmzee.com
Description: The companion website to the book and story of Owen and Mzee. This can provide an extension to a literacy circle and independent learning.

Link 3: http://education.noaa.gov/
Description: a website about weather and weather conditions with a section geared towards students. This is useful website for collecting weather data.

Link 4: www.weather.com
Description: A website dedicated to weather and current weather conditions from around the world. This is a useful website for collecting weather data.

Link 5: http://bronxzoo.com/
Description: This site for the Bronx Zoo in New York City. It is a terrific resource for a virtual field trip.

Link 6: http://nationalgeographic.com/xpeditions/
Description: An educational companion to the National Geographic magazine. It is filled with interactive activities and explorations. This site is aligned with U.S. Geography standards.

Standards Addressed:

Students will read, write, listen, and speak for information and understanding.
Grade: 1-5      Subject: English Language Arts

Students will read, write, listen, and speak for critical analysis and evaluation.

Grade: 1-5     Subject: English Language Arts

Students will read, write, listen, and speak for literary response and expression.
Grade: 1-5     Subject: English Language Arts

Standard 4: Students will solve problems that arise in mathematics and in other contexts.
Grade: 1-5    Subject: Mathematics

Standard 5: Students will apply technological knowledge and skills to design, construct, use, and evaluate products and systems to satisfy human and environmental needs.
Grade: 1-5   Subject: Technology Education

Standard 6: Students will understand and apply scientific concepts, principles, and theories pertaining to the physical setting and living environment and recognize the historical development of ideas in science. 
Grade: 1-5
  Subject: Science

Knowing and Using Arts Materials and ResourcesStudents will be knowledgeable about and make use of the materials and resources available for participation in the arts in various roles.
Grade: 1-5
   Subject: Visual Arts

Lesson 1:

Title - Animals All Around

Objective 1: Students will complete a KWL chart about Animals
Objective 2: Students will work in cooperative groups.

Objective 3: Students will explore different characteristics of different animals.

Objective 4: Students will exercise their critical listening skills.

Materials 1: Chart Paper
Materials 2: Post-its
Materials 3: Markers
Materials 4: Pictures of different animals

Procedure 1: Children will respond to the question, "What is an animal that you know" by writing or sketching an animal on a yellow post-it.

Procedure 2: Children will respond to the question, "Can you please, write the name and/or sketch of another animal. Oh.this one should not be a pet?"

Procedure 3: Students attach their post-its to a chart titled, "Animals All Around"

Procedure 4: The children will discuss as a group some of the post-its.

Procedure 5: The teacher introduces the launch of the unit and the upcoming class investigation into animals.

Procedure 6: As a class, the students list what they know about animals.

Procedure 7: In small groups, students work to come up with questions of what they want to know about different animals.

Procedure 8: The class will come together to determine what they will learn about animals.

Homework - List any homework assignments required of this lesson. Leave this area blank if needed.

Journal Response: What are different ways that you could find information about animals?

Assessment - How do you know that the students have learned the material? Please include any formal or informal assessments for each lesson. Leave this area blank if needed.

Students will be assessed based on their post-it responses. These will serve as informal assessments of prior knowledge.

Lesson 2:

Title - Connections: What we read, think and say!

Objective 1: Students will discuss key findings from a read-aloud.

Objective 2: Students will make predictions based on what they've heard.

Objective 3: Students will listen and speak for critical analysis.

Objective 4: Students will engage in a student-centered discussion.

Materials 1: Without You by Sarah Weeks.

Procedure 1: The teacher will read aloud the book Without You.

Procedure 2: The teacher will ask students to notice key ideas about the Penguin.

Procedure 3: Students will share their findings, for example one student might share his/her interest in how the male Emperor Penguin incubates the egg while the female goes to feed.

Procedure 4: The class will determine one topic they would like to discuss as a group.

Procedure 5: Students will engage in a Literature Circle based on this interactive read aloud.

Homework : Students will create a new title and book cover for the book Without You.

Assessment - How do you know that the students have learned the material? Please include any formal or informal assessments for each lesson. Leave this area blank if needed.

Students will be assessed based on their input and employment of key reading comprehension skills used during the Literature Circle. In addition, the Homework assignment can serve as a formal and informal assessment.

Lesson 3:

Title: All around the Internet

Objective 1: Students will learn how to use the Internet.

Objective 2: Students will learn how to search for images using the Internet.

Objective3:  Students will learn to develop a research question.

Computer and online access
Digital projector


  1. Teacher will ask the students what is the Internet?

  2. The class will make a chart of all the things that a student might use the Internet for.

  3. The teacher will discuss how we can use the Internet to find information.

  4. The teacher will model opening a web browser.

  5. The teacher will model by going to the website Kratts' Creatures on PBS for Kids.

  6. The teacher will assist students to develop a research question such as "Where do Penguins live?"

  7. The teacher will have students create a series of questions they want to research.

Assessment - How do you know that the students have learned the material? Students will be assessed based on their research questions.

Lesson 4

Title: Feather, Fur, Skin, and Scales: Characteristics of Animals

Objective 1: Students will learn about characteristics of an animal

Objective 2: Students will learn the meaning of external characteristic.

Objective 3: Students will be able to identify at least one distinguishing characteristic of an animal

Materials 1: Photographic examples of different animals.

Materials 2: Paper

Materials 3: Crayons

Materials 4: Pencils

Procedure 1: Students will discuss what a characteristic of an animal is.

Procedure 2: Using pictures of the penguin, the teacher will discuss and identify key external characteristics such as size, color, body shape, and feathers.

Procedure 3: From photographs, students will work in collaborative groups to identify external characteristics of different animals.

Procedure 4: Each group will create a drawn replica of their animal and label each of the characteristics.

Procedure 5: Students share their findings with the rest of the class.

Journal Prompt: Why do you think the characteristics of different animals are important?

Assessment -
A review of the Journal Response and group product will serve as an informal assessment.

For the last five years, Jeffrey Gross has been teaching at PS 153 in Harlem/Washington Heights. After teaching 4th grade for three years, he moved to the 2nd grade.  Jeffrey has always involved himself in projects that were aimed to support young people. Prior to teaching, he worked in both the social services and arts fields. As a teacher, he has found TeachNet to be an invaluable resource that both benefits his students as well as fosters colleagiality among educators. Jeffrey would look forward to joining a dedicated corps of individuals who recognize the value of integrating technology into classroom learning.


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