State Animal Guide Book
- Grades: 3–5, 6–8
Before Ben’s father created the wolf diorama, he carefully researched the animal and the region where it lived (Gunflint Lake, Minnesota). Encourage your students to become dedicated researchers as they learn about native animals in the United States.
What it teaches: Research skills, writing, geography
What you need: Internet access, library access, pen and paper
What to do:
- Talk with students about research that museum artists like Ben’s father must do before creating an exhibit. Also show them the Acknowledgments at the back of Wonderstruck, where Brian Selznick explains the extensive research he did to create the book. List examples on the board. What kinds of research did Selznick do? Historical? Geographical? Scientific?
- Explain to your class that together you are going to embark on a research project of your own. Each state has a state animal. For example, Missouri’s state animal is the Missouri mule, and West Virginia’s state animal is the black bear. Some states have more than one. A state mammal is the official or representative mammal of a U.S. state. States also have separate state birds, and sometimes state fish or state butterflies or state reptiles. Ask your students: Why do you think a state picks a particular animal? Then share a list of state animals from a site such as statesymbolsusa.org.
- Invite each student to choose a state animal and research the animal and the state it comes from. Can they discover if the animal is native? Does it still live in the wild in that state? Why was the animal chosen? Invite them to create a one-page fact sheet about the animal, its habitat, and state it lives in?. (Alternatively, students could create a “glog,” or interactive poster at glogster.com.) Ask each child to present his or her work.
Afterwards, collect students’ pages into a classroom book or post their glogs on your class website.