Key Takeaways:
  • Capitalize on students’ natural curiosity about animals while practicing sequencing.
  • Forge a home-school connection by having kids describe how they care for animals at home.
  • Help students understand that there is usually a set process to completing a task—like bathing a dog or cleaning a litter box!

My kids were bear-y interested to learn about scientist Rae Wynn-Grant in Scholastic News for grade 2. She (carefully) goes into bear dens to care for sleeping cubs while their moms hibernate. This fascinating issue and its accompanying video about Dr. Wynn-Grant will be something my kids remember for a bear-y long time.

From this issue, I created a lesson that combined science and practice with sequencing,  and gave the kids a chance to connect and share how they care for animals at home.

This is what we did:

1.     Hold Up the Scholastic News Issue

I held up the cover of the issue. The kids could see the photo of a scientist holding a bear cub, but I covered up the words. I asked, “What do you think this issue is about?”

None of the kids guessed that the little creature was a bear cub!

Then I uncovered the words. The kids were quite surprised to learn that "bear scientist" was an actual job. But they didn't quite understand why the scientist needed to check the bears. Some thought the bears were abandoned or injured or needed help.

2.     Show the Scholastic News Video

When we saw the video Meet a Bear Scientist about how Dr. Wynn-Grant puts collars on bears to keep track of them, it all seemed to click for them. The kids were mesmerized by the real footage of Dr. Wynn-Grant working with bears and the simple, but compelling, information about what she does to help bears—and how she stays safe doing it.

Honestly, my kids were more concerned about the bears being safe from the humans than the other way around. But we talked about why both were equally important.

3.     Read the Magazine Online Together

Then it was time to dive into the magazine. I projected the issue on my SMART Board and used the audio read-aloud feature. The kids enjoyed learning more about the bear cubs and Dr. Wynn-Grant’s work. By now, many wanted to become bear scientists.

4.     Do a Hands-On Activity: How We Care for Animals

Using the actions of the bear scientist as a guide, we talked about ways that we take care of pets at home. Students who didn’t have pets were able to hear from students who do. They could also use their general knowledge from what they’ve seen from other family members or friends.

We then folded a standard piece of 12” x 18” construction paper in half lengthwise and cut the top layer to make four flaps. 

 

We illustrated and labeled our animal care activities into four distinct steps, one step under each flap. I wanted to stress that most tasks have a sequence of steps that happen in order. 

 

5.     Dance Break!

We’d been working hard—time for a short break. I played the Dance Break: Bear Cubs video available online. Kids watched the video of bears running, climbing and spinning. They made up dance steps to move along!

 

6.     Have a Class Discussion

Then we settled down to present and discuss the sequences we’d created. One of the most rewarding parts of this lesson was having students share their home responsibilities. It’s always heartwarming to see the kids connect over things in their personal lives.  We made sure each child clearly explained the sequence of their actions. To drive the point home, I cut up our class model and re-arranged it into a different sequence and asked the kids to explain how this new order of events would affect the task.

 

7.     Play the Online Game!

The Be a Bear Scientist online game was absolutely the most interactive and engaging game we’ve played from Scholastic News. It reinforced concepts from the issue, and it let us practice capitalization—an added bonus. 


Additional Ideas:

  • Have the students act as a bear scientist investigating a den. They can reenact what they learned. Then have students act out the scenario in a different order and discuss the likely consequences of not following the original sequence.
  • Enrich your early finishers with some research. Although Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant is currently studying bears, she is a wildlife scientist who studies all kinds of animals. Have students research the career of a wildlife scientist.
  • Get moving! The bear cub Dance Break really inspired my kinesthetic learners. Have your students follow the format of the dance to create their own based on the movements of another animal.

 

Denise Boehm is a teacher in Florida. She also writes the blog, SunnyDaysinSecondGrade.

 

If you’re looking for a way to bring fun, hands-on lessons like these into your classroom, try Scholastic News for yourself. Sign up for a FREE 30-day trial and discover how Scholastic News can help you engage students in seasonal lessons all year long.

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