- Research a state animal and write a fact sheet
- Deliver a short presentation to the class
- Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick
- Computers for student use
- Writing paper or printer
Step 1: Talk with students about research that museum artists, like Ben's father, must do before creating an exhibit. Remind students that before Ben's father created the wolf diorama, he carefully researched the animal and the region where it lived (Gunflint Lake, Minnesota). Show students the Acknowledgments at the back of Wonderstruck, where Brian Selznick explains the extensive research he did to create the book. What kinds of research did Selznick do? Historical? Geographical? Scientific? List examples on the board.
Step 2: Explain to the 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 state. States also have separate state birds, and sometimes state fish, butterflies or reptiles. Ask students: Why do you think a state picks a particular animal?
Step 3: Share a list of state animals (State Symbols USA has lists by state or by animal/symbol).
Step 4: Invite each student to choose a state animal and research the animal and the state it comes from. Can students discover if the animal is native to that state? Does the animal still live in the wild in that state? Why was the animal chosen?
Step 5: Have each student create a one-page fact sheet about his or her animal, its habitat, and state it lives in.
Note: Alternatively, students could create a "glog," or interactive poster, at glogster.com.
Step 6: Ask each student to present his or her work.
Step 7: After the presentations, collect students' pages into a classroom book or post the glogs on your class website.