Discover More: Animal Babies Storia Teaching Guide
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2
Animal Babies is a bright and engaging first information book about how baby animals are born and thrive. The book begins with the circle of life, illustrated with the life cycle of a beautiful baby orangutan. The following pages focus on important aspects of birth and growing up, all illustrated with detailed photographs and described in simple text.
Young readers learn how some animals hatch from eggs, how animals have different numbers of babies, and how baby animals change as they grow up. Sophisticated concepts such as metamorphosis are explained through simple-to-read graphics and close-up photographs. Readers learn how parents care for their babies by building special homes, providing them with food, and teaching them important lessons for survival.
The book’s photographs and different levels of text make it accessible to all levels of beginning readers. For many students, the book will be a stepping-stone for more curious questions about the world of animal babies.
Teaching the Book
Animal Babies is packed with facts and adorable photographs of the little creatures students love. The book provides a springboard for class discussions about animal life cycles, main idea and details, and science content-area vocabulary. Students will write a narrative from the point of view of a baby animal, create a counting wall banner, and make an animal baby minibook.
Theme Focus: Animal Babies
Comprehension Focus: Main Idea and Details
Language Focus: Science Content-Area Vocabulary
Get Ready to Read
Show students a slideshow of nine very different animal babies to engage students’ interest and build background knowledge. Project the pictures onto a whiteboard or screen and encourage students to discuss what they see such as the animals’ names, what the babies do, and where they live. Also encourage students to ask questions about the animal babies and record their questions to come back to after reading the book.
Preview and Predict
Show students the cover of Animal Babies. Ask them to read the title and to name the animal babies on the cover. Then spend time with students on page 2, explaining how the book works. Point out the different types of text and photographs in the book and the kinds of information they provide.
Science Content-Area Vocabulary
Call students’ attention to the following words as you read the book. Ask them to think about how the words connect to the photographs or illustrations and also how the words connect to the main idea of the text. More words are defined in the glossary on pages 30 and 31.
Use Resource #1: Vocabulary Cards and distribute copies to students.
- adult (p. 4)
- metamorphosis (p. 12)
- life cycle (p. 13)
- burrow (p. 15)
- nest (p. 15)
- pouch (p. 15)
- cub (p. 19)
- fawn (p. 28)
Words to Know
Ask students to cut apart their vocabulary words on Resource #1. Then write the concepts below on chart paper or on a whiteboard inside circles:
Animal Baby Names
Animal Stages of Life
Say each vocabulary word and ask students to hold up its card. Then have them connect each word with one of the larger concepts on the chart paper or whiteboard. Ask students to explain the connection between the two words. Then challenge students to add more words to each of the categories.
As You Read
Reading the Book
Read the book aloud with students following along with their eyes on the text. If possible, project the book onto a whiteboard or screen. Direct students’ attention to the photographs and illustrations. Help them make connections between the text and the pictures that relate to it.
Reread the book, taking more time to focus on photo captions, picture sequences, and other illustrations. Ask students to read their copies of the book at the same time; or, if they are able, encourage them to read the text aloud along with you.
Big Question: Critical Thinking
Ask students to think about this question as they read and be ready to answer it when they have finished the book. Write the question on chart paper or have students write it in their reading journals. How do little animal babies survive?
Identify Main Idea and Details
Explain to students that the book is organized into important ideas called main ideas. The main ideas are supported by smaller ideas called details. The details tell more about the main ideas and give you facts about specific animal babies.
Project pages 6 and 7 titled “Hatching” onto a whiteboard or screen. Read the text on both pages aloud. Then model how to identify the main idea and details in the text, using a graphic organizer like the one below.
First, I’ll ask: what is the most important idea? Is it that a female ostrich lays eggs on the ground? No, that’s not important enough and doesn’t include all the information on the page. This is the important big idea that everything is about: Most animal babies hatch out of eggs. I’ll write that in the center circle. What details support this main idea? I’ll write those around the main idea.
Main Idea: Most animal babies hatch out of eggs.
Detail: A baby grows inside an egg.
Detail: The chick’s feathers dry out and become fluffy.
Detail: When the baby is ready, it hatches out of the egg.
Detail: A baby ostrich hatches out of an egg.
Use Resource #2: Identify Main Idea and Details for students to practice identifying main ideas and details. Pass out copies of the page and guide students to reread pages 14 and 15, “That’s My Home,” and fill out the graphic organizer to identify main ideas and details.
After You Read
Questions to Discuss
Lead students in a discussion of these focus story elements.
1. Animal Babies
Look at the circle of life on page 5. Where are you on the circle? Where are your parents? Where are your grandparents? (Sample answers: I am between the first and second circles. My parents are adults and have had a family and are on the bottom circle. My grandparents are getting older and are on the circle to the left.)
2. Main Idea and Details
Name a detail that tells more about this main idea: Babies change a lot as they grow up. Point to the pictures that tell more about it. (Sample answers: A chick loses its fluff and gets feathers. Tree pythons turn green when they get older.)
3. Science Content-Area Vocabulary
Explain what metamorphosis means using the pictures on page 13 of the life cycle of a butterfly. (Sample answers: Metamorphosis means an animal changes completely as it grows. A caterpillar turns into a butterfly.)
Questions to Share
Encourage students to share their responses with a partner or small group.
1. Text to Self
What is the most amazing or surprising fact that you learned about animal babies? Which animal baby do you like the most?
2. Text to World
Where have you seen animal babies near where you live?
3. Text to Text
What other books have you read about animal babies? Were they information books like this one? Or were they make-believe stories? Which kinds of books do you like best?
Content Area Connections
Use pages 8 and 9 entitled “How Many” as a springboard for students to create a Baby Animal Counting Banner. Provide them with card stock or paper that can be taped together to make a long wall banner. Assign students one of the ten baby animals to work on with a partner.
Old MacDonald’s Baby Animal Farm
Sing the Old MacDonald song using the names of baby farm animals instead of grown-up farm animals. Before you sing, write a list of baby farm animals for students to sing about such as lamb, calf, pony, chick, duckling, piglet, kitten, and puppy. Also talk about the sounds or movements these baby animals make. Then sing the song with verses for four to five of the baby animals.
Baby Animals Come to School
Plan a special day for students to bring their favorite “baby animal” stuffed toys to school. Ask students to share the animal’s baby name plus two or three facts about the real animal it represents. Encourage students to discuss how their animals are alike and different and where they live in the world.
Give students more practice with baby animal-related vocabulary and sight words by downloading this mini-book, which pictures and names 14 baby animals. Have each student cut out and color their own copy of the minibook.
Tell students that they are going to pretend to be an animal baby and write from that animal’s point of view. First, have students go through the book and choose one animal baby to write about. Ask them what their animal is doing in the picture. What might it be thinking? What might it say if it could talk? Give students the sentence starter below. Then tell them to write or dictate three or more sentences by the baby animal. I am a baby______________.
Don't Forget the Big Question
Give each student an opportunity to answer the big question. Encourage students to support their answers with details and evidence from the text. Tell them there is no one right answer. How do little animal babies survive?
Have students apply their knowledge of baby animals by writing riddles. They might want to use the same animal that they wrote about or choose a different animal from the book. Make copies of the printable Big Activity: Guess Who! and distribute to students. Read the directions and answer questions to clarify the activity. After students finish, have partners ask each other their riddles.
About the Author
Andrea Pinnington is a writer and editor of books for children, specializing in non-fiction books for the youngest readers. Her books cover a range of subjects from animals to astronauts and puppies to pirates, as well as, children’s craft and activity books.
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