28 March 2017

Learning About Oviparous Animals

If you're anything like me, as a teacher you love teaching thematically.  SO much content can be covered on a cross-curricular level...so many connections can be made... when taking this approach to instruction.  And because most public schools don't support teaching about Easter, this is a great time of the year for teaching all about oviparous and viviparous animals!  Today I wanted to share with you a few activities and read alouds I love incorporating in my plans this time of the year.

No thematic unit of learning is complete without a good set of read alouds!  These are a few of my favorite oviparous animal books to keep in the classroom during this unit of study.  

Animals That Hatch from Eggs by Baby Professor
What Will Hatch? by Jennifer Ward
First the Egg by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
An Egg is Quiet by Diana Hutts Aston
Where Are You From? by In-Sook Kim
Ollie by Olivier Dunrea

To start off our unit of learning, I like to create a schema chart to see what kids think they know about oviparous animals.  When I ask kids, "Who knows what an oviparous animal is?" I usually get a ton of blank stares and several wild guesses that leave me in a fit of hysterics.  Ha!  We discuss the definition...as well as the definition of viviparous animals...and then we move on to a read aloud.  Chickens Aren't the Only Ones is a great one to start with!  
As a whole group follow-up to the reading, we'll sort pictures of oviparous and viviparous animals.  They always love this.   

As we read and learn about oviparous animals, we add to our schema/new learning chart and discuss our misconceptions.  Then I have my kids follow-up our new learning with a non-fiction writing craftivity.  

This is pretty simple.  I don't have a template available for this, but you really don't need one!  First, the kids write a short paragraph...or 2-3 sentences...about oviparous animals.  Then they illustrate an oviparous animal of their choosing, cut it out, and adhere it to a piece of construction paper.  A cracked egg is placed on top of their illustration to make it look like the animal is hatching from the egg.  Then we use kraft krinkle cut paper/gift filler and glue that to the picture to resemble a nest. We love creating hands-on visuals to show off our learning and solidfy connections!

I think it's really important to empower kids with terminology to deepen their understanding.  I love incorporating rich and relevant vocabulary into my instruction and then using those vocabulary words in different games and activities that are hands-on and engaging for my kids.  The more engaging and hands-on, the more I can guarantee that my kids will remember what they learn.  Of course, it's not enough to just memorize, I want to empower them with the ability to then APPLY their learning. My kids have tons of opportunities to apply and use the vocabulary words in the different activities I incorporate during this time.

One of their favorite vocabulary activities was a small group activity where they had to work to place the eggs in the matching nests (seen above).  The nests were made out of paper lunch bags and Easter grass!  SIMPLE!  Each nest was labeled with a vocabulary word and then they had to work to match the visual representation of the word to the definition and place them in the corresponding nests.  Since this was done in a small group setting, I was able to easily facilitate the activity and assess understanding.  

Of course, I'd be remiss not to include learning about life cycles!  Frogs and chickens are in our standards, so I make sure to incorporate these oviparous animals into our unit of study as well.  Again, I love incorporating craftivities because they help kids to make connections to their learning in a hands-on way.  So important!  

Experiments and investigations are ALWAYS a class favorite, so I try to include as many as I can that help deepen understanding.  During our oviparous animal unit, we do an Incredible Egg Investigation where we investigate an egg and its attributes.  I make sure to keep lots of paper towels and newspaper on hand for this hands-on activity because little hands often don't know their own strength! Ha!

We also "hatch" homemade eggs using a vinegar & baking soda experiment that the kids love.  LOTS of predictions are made during this time and the "ooohs" and "ahhhhhs" are overwhelming!  The kids love to predict which animals will hatch....and they can always eliminate any animal that isn't oviparous because we've learned that oviparous animals are the only animals that hatch from eggs!

My favorite thing about teaching thematically is the cross-curricular connections that can be incorporated.  This also allows me to fit in more content throughout my day.  SO many great opportunities to incorporate learning into math as well as literacy.  Lots of opportunities for writing....text to self connections, etc.  I'm often asked, "when do you have time for writing?" Well, ANYTIME is a good time to write and incorporating writing activities throughout the day often helps me not only to target specific skills, but helps me to assess my student's understanding of the content we're learning.  

Speaking of writing, this is one of my most favorite oviparous animal writing activities.  I did this every year for almost all 14 years I was in the classroom!

I create a huge chick anchor chart out of butcher paper and then we brainstorm a list of words to describe it.  I add the words to the chart and then prompt my students to create their very own chicks using a variety of mediums I make available to them.  After making their chicks, they have to write about it using descriptive words (adjectives).  For my kindergartners, I prompted them to write at least 3 sentences using the prompt, "My chick is....".  With my first graders, we took a slightly different approach.  I created a can/have/are thinking map with them and they had to write using the prompts "My chick can; My chick has; My chick is".  We kept the chicks close by so that they could also write a fiction story all about their chicks in the writing center.  That was a favorite for sure!

These are just a few of the activities I incorporate into our Oviparous Animal study.  For more ideas, check out my Oviparous Animal Pinterest Board.  Don't you wish there were 24 MORE hours in each day, LOL?!?!?!  Never enough time for everything I want to do!!!

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  1. Hi Cara!
    Thank you for sharing about your Oviparous Unit! I'm a first grade teacher in California, and I too love teaching in thematic units. We are currently learning all about animal adaptations, and it is just the best feeling when my students use the vocabulary taught in their own writing. We call these "college words" to feel extra important :) Out of curiosity, how long would you teach a theme such as this one? This is my first year teaching first and I'm still figuring out the appropriate length of time to stay with a particular topic. Thank you so much for sharing your ideas!

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