Our “Animal Week” in 1st Grade


Hello and happy Saturday. I know I haven’t been the happiest of teachers lately and I know that I haven’t posted about actual stuff I’ve done in class with my boys, and though I’m not going to apologize for either, I want to make it up to you by telling you about what I recently did with my oldest boys.

I have to work with the Journeys books by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and I absolutely despise them, so I often make adaptations and basically do my own thing to keep my students (and myself) motivated and engaged. We work with the Kindergarten books, and are (thankfully) almost through with them. Our “animals week” started with me reading Pet Show! by Ezra Jack Keats. Now that book was great. The pictures and the story were absolutely fantastic and my boys adored it.

While reading the book I got a ton of ideas to continue with the pets and animals topic, so after class I went ahead and pretty much changed all the planning I’d done for the week. Thank you, for the inspiration, Mr. Keats.

Because the book revolves around this boy who takes his “pet germ” to a pet show after not finding his cat, the pet he was supposed to take in the first place, I instantly thought about “My Pet Germs,” a poem by Kenn Nesbitt. During our second class of animal week (on the first one we read the book), I got the boys to read the poem out loud and then recite it paying attention to pronunciation and intonation. Each boy glued the poem to his notebook and make a drawing about it.

My second idea, which we executed on day three (man, time flies when you have fun!) was actually inspired by I Love 2 Teach. We sort of moved on from the pets thing (we went back, just you wait) and talked about animals in general. Based on the format I Love 2 Teach created, I made this worksheet because my students aren’t in that point of making extensive written productions. It was a fill-in-the-blanks sort of thing for them to complete with information from the animal they created. To get them inspired, I created a Power Point presentation that illustrated everything they were asked: I provided examples of animal names, species, habitats, and even the four basic needs of animals. This class was really a combination of English and science. At the end, each boy drew their animal.

For our fourth and final class of the week, we had a pet show! No pet was actually brought to school, thank goodness. I had previously sent parents the guidelines for this show and tell, which included a format of what they could say, the timing of the presentation and the visual aids permitted. This activity was amazing because the boys could talk about their pets, and those who didn’t have any talked about their stuffed animals or pretended they had a pet and talked about it. That was also an opportunity for me to assess their progress in speaking, now that the year is almost over. At the end, every boy was given a ribbon, just like in the story!

I love when my lessons have themes or units, even if the textbooks don’t explicitly have them, and that week with my students reminded me of why I’m a teacher and why I decided to take on the challenge and work with preschool students (the equivalent of first grade in Colombia is actually a part of preschool).

What is a lesson or a unit you love teaching and why?

Happy teaching!

Love, Miss Camila

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