Take a trip to the zoo!

Hi bloggy friends! And happy weekend! I LOVE love LoVe weekends!!!! There's nothing like sleeping in, spending time with family, and blog stalking to cheer me up from an exhausting week! 

I wanted to share a great app with you that I've been using my classroom for research, reading, and writing.

Our current writing prompt is "Write a letter to a friend about an animal at the [San Diego] zoo." (We are going on a field trip there soon, lucky us!) so I thought it would be fun to have them learn about an animal there. I also wanted to incorporate some nonfiction research, reading, and writing because the Common Core is filled with nonfiction (I love it!). 

And my first thought was, oh no, I'm going to have to hit up the library, find 21 different books at 21 different reading levels about 21 different specific animals- that would take all of my precious Saturday.

Enter the (FREE!!!!) San Diego Zoo mobile app.

Here's what it looks like! 

We used the Animal section where all of the animals are broken down into groups:

Each kiddo picked out an animal they wanted to research and write about. 

I have NEVER seen them so motivated and excited! (Well, except when we were doing Abby's Sweetheart Snatcher on Valentine's Day, but that was a whole different kind of sugar-driven candy-eating motivation :)

I thought the reading might be a little bit difficult, so I had them record their interesting facts" on this organizer: 
There was no rhyme or reason to it, I just wanted them to get their thoughts and facts down on paper. It turned out though, the kids were so motivated to learn about their animal they had no trouble reading or pulling out facts- I was pleasantly surprised!!! (If you'd like a copy of this organizer, just leave a comment and let me know- I would be happy to email it to you....I was just too lazy busy to upload it to Google Docs. :)

This also had them talking up a storm about their animals and who has the "cooler" animal. One of my friends said he had the coolest animal because "Naked mole rats role in their own poop! Which is also called feces!!!!" (See the impact here, people! A vocabulary and synonym lesson in one!) And another one of my friends said he had the coolest animal because "Gila monsters swallow their food whole! AND they eat baby birds!" This will probably be an ongoing debate in our classroom... 

Once their first organizer was filled up, I created a three bubble graphic organizer with three sections: "Where it lives," "What it eats," and "Other interesting facts." (Sorry- I don't have any pictures of this.) They cut out each box on their first organizer, and had them glue that facts into the appropriate column. And voila- our prewrite was done!   

I will let you know how the final products turn out! :-)

Even if you don't live in San Diego, you could still utilize this app (with a class set or just one) device to learn about ALL different kinds of animals!!! There are even live webcams for all sorts of animals like the polar bears, orangutans, and pandas! You can find more info about the app here.  

And it saved me a Saturday at the library trying to find books for each kiddo! :-) Not that I don't love the library- just not all Saturday. :) 

Have a great weekend!!! 


  1. Looks cute! I'd love a copy of the graphic organizer.

    Hello Mrs Sykes

  2. I would love a copy of the organizer....it would be great for our animal research coming up.....

    Thanks !!

  3. This would go great with our animal reports! I'd love a copy :)


  4. Thank you for sharing the app! We do this for writing, too. =)

    Emily @ Second Grade Silliness 

  5. Oh my gosh, I wish I had that app when I taught third grade. We always researched zoo animals before our overnight field trip to the zoo and the kiddos had to write a multiparagraph report about their animal. They always loved it. Although maybe I'll break the second grade rules at my school and do a simpler version this year with the help of your great resources!
    Stories From Second

  6. In case people can't use apps, I did something really similar with the National Geographic for Kids animal section of their website. We went to the computer lab and I just set the kids loose with a graphic organizer. It's FANTASTIC! The kids loved poring over it for information, and it was great non-fiction reading.

  7. Hi I love the graphic organizer. Are you still willing to email a copy of it? If so, my email is carrie.trantalis@santeesd.net Thank you so much.