K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  1. Complete research about an animal of their choice using various strategies and informational resources.
  2. Create a written report using paragraphs covering specific topics about their animal.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

5 hours


  • books on animals
  • encyclopedias


Technology resources

Internet access can be used to check out websites (see Learn More in sidebar). A good software program to use is “Geosafari Animals” by Educational Insights. I purchased this through the Scholastic Publishing Company.


A pre-discussion of animal groups and characteristics is helpful for building interest and providing examples of animals students may want to use for their report. A review of writing paragraphs should be completed before students are given this assignment.


Day 1

Pass out the Animal Report handout and go over the outline and checklist students will follow in writing their reports. Give students several examples of writing as an introduction using interesting facts about several different animals. Show students how to write the fact in a riddle (question/answer) form. For example: What animal may be as strong as ten humans? A three-hundred-pound gorilla may be as strong as ten humans. Allow students time to research facts about their animal and practice writing riddles.

Day 2

Discuss animals’ bodies and sizes. Have students write sentences about their animal. Let students share about their animals.

Day 3

Have students continue to research and write about their animals focusing on the animal’s habitat, location, and type of home.

Day 4

Students need to continue researching and writing about their animal’s living habits.

Day 5

Discuss an ending paragraph and items that will help students write conclusions to their reports. Have students read their rough drafts in groups and proofread for mistakes. Assign the rewriting of the report for homework and give a due date. Also, discuss the possibilities the students may have for extra credit.


Reports need to be written in complete sentences and include a paragraph for each of the following: introduction, the animal’s body, the animal’s habitat, the animal’s living habits, and an ending paragraph.

Supplemental information


  • Common Core State Standards
    • English Language Arts (2010)
      • Writing

        • Grade 4
          • 4.W.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly. 4.W.2.1 Introduce a topic clearly and group related information in paragraphs and sections; include formatting (e.g., headings), illustrations, and multimedia...
          • 4.W.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1–3 above.)
          • 4.W.7 Conduct short research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Science (2010)
      • Grade 4

        • 4.L.1 Understand the effects of environmental changes, adaptations and behaviors that enable animals (including humans) to survive in changing habitats. 4.L.1.1 Give examples of changes in an organism’s environment that are beneficial to it and some that...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

English Language Arts (2004)

Grade 4

  • Goal 2: The learner will apply strategies and skills to comprehend text that is read, heard, and viewed.
    • Objective 2.07: Determine usefulness of information and ideas consistent with purpose.
  • Goal 3: The learner will make connections with text through the use of oral language, written language, and media and technology.
    • Objective 3.06: Conduct research for assigned projects or self-selected projects (with assistance) from a variety of sources through the use of technological and informal tools (e.g., print and non-print texts, artifacts, people, libraries, databases, computer networks).
  • Goal 4: The learner will apply strategies and skills to create oral, written, and visual texts.
    • Objective 4.05: Use planning strategies to generate topics and organize ideas (e.g., brainstorming, mapping, webbing, reading, discussion).
    • Objective 4.09: Produce work that follows the conventions of particular genres (e.g., personal and imaginative narrative, research reports, learning logs, letters of request, letters of complaint).
    • Objective 4.10: Use technology as a tool to gather, organize, and present information.
  • Goal 5: The learner will apply grammar and language conventions to communicate effectively.
    • Objective 5.01: Use correct capitalization (e.g., names of languages, nationalities, musical compositions) and punctuation (e.g., commas in a series, commas in direct address, commas and quotation marks in dialogue, apostrophes in possessives).
    • Objective 5.04: Compose multiple paragraphs with:
      • topic sentences.
      • specific, relevant details.
      • logical progression and movement of ideas.
      • coherence.
      • elaboration.
      • concluding statement related to the topic.
    • Objective 5.06: Proofread and correct most misspellings independently with reference to resources (e.g., dictionaries, thesauri, glossaries, computer spell-checks, and other classroom sources).
    • Objective 5.07: Use established criteria to edit for language conventions and format.

Information Skills (2000)

Grade 4

  • Goal 4: The learner will EXPLORE and USE research processes to meet information needs.
    • Objective 4.05: Gather information.
    • Objective 4.07: Organize and use information.

Science (2005)

Grade 4

  • Goal 1: The learner will make observations and conduct investigations to build an understanding of animal behavior and adaptation.
    • Objective 1.01: Observe and describe how all living and nonliving things affect the life of a particular animal including:
      • Other animals.
      • Plants.
      • Weather.
      • Climate.
    • Objective 1.02: Observe and record how animals of the same kind differ in some of their characteristics and discuss possible advantages and disadvantages of this variation.
    • Objective 1.03: Observe and discuss how behaviors and body structures help animals survive in a particular habitat.