One of my favorite nonfiction authors is Steve Jenkins. Students love reading his books and learning about all the different animal facts. The two I love best are Actual Size and What Do You Do With a Tail Like This? I have done several different activities after reading these books to my students including matching the animal to the part mentioned in the book to writing and art activities. Since I bought a set of Chromebooks a few years ago (thank you book fair profit), I have been doing an animal research project with my second and third graders. Students will select one of ten animals and use QR codes that I created to look up facts about the animal. They record their notes and create a simple research report.
I chose ten different animals from the book What Do You Do With a Tail Like This? Since I wanted students to do their research on the internet, I had to make sure that the websites they used were appropriate for them to use. This limited me in the animals that I could use. For example, the horned lizard is one of the favorite animals in the book because it squirts blood out of its eyes. But the websites I wanted to use didn’t have much information about them. To read more about the websites I chose and other trustworthy sites for kids check out this blog post.
The ten animals I used are:
- African elephant
- bald eagle
- humpback whale
Once students choose their animal (sometimes I assign them) I hand out the QR code sheet and the page for them to record their notes. You can laminate the QR codes and they will still scan. To scan the QR codes students can use the camera on their Chromebook or iPad. There are quite a few different QR code websites or Chrome extensions you can use. Here are two that I have used. A tip: students may have see a pop-up that asks for permission for the website to use the webcam. They will need to click allow or accept to scan the code.
Then students will visit the sites and fill in their research templates.
I included 2 research templates (one page for each animal). One set has a question for students to write in the fact they learned about the animal from the book. The second set has a different option for students to write 3 adjectives describing the animal. This way you can use these pages without the book.
You can also set this activity up as a center activity and have students use nonfiction books about the animals as well as the websites.