Friday, March 23, 2012

Animal Research Folder: A Fact Finding Mission

We're way into our animal unit and I'm needing to wrap things up and move on. We've spent time learning the words related to this unit and have been reading from nonfiction book and our text books about adaptations, food chains and ecosystems. Here is a triple circle map on the difference betweeen ecosystems, communities and populations. This kind of visual has helped some kids see the difference between the three. (Picture refused to load horizontally and I refused to spend time trying to get it to...sorry!)

From there I had my students pick a population of animal they wanted to learn more about. We then set up our research folders. This is done with a piece of construction paper folded in half. I gave them the three research forms and they glued them in.
Here is the front cover:

I had the kids write the name of the animal in the center circle. Then they had to write down all the information they already know about that animal. At the end of the research, kids will go back to this circle map and add what they learned from their research. The circle will probably not be big enough to fit it all!
Here is the back cover of the folder:

Here they have to set their purpose for the research. We talk about how good researchers and readers have questions in their minds that they want to get answers to. This focuses their reading. Students write three I wonder questions down. The bottom portion of this sheet has a place for them to record their reference sources. They will use one nonfiction book, one encyclopedia and one online research site.
Here is the inside of the folder. They cut and glue the four headers to the top of the folder. These have the topic words: habitat, physical characteristics, diet, behavioral characteristics. Next they get their reference book and a stack of post it notes and begin reading and searching for information to place under the four categories.
I love the New True Books for reference. They are easy enough for kids to understand and have all of the nonfiction text features we have been learning about.
The kids will be writing a paragraph for each of the four topics so they need to get enough details under each. They write words, phrases and short sentences that support the main idea. I like using post its because we can manipulate the facts and move them around when we go to writing the paragraph. Some details belong together and can be combined to make a sentence.
I added questions to think about under each category to guide their reading and thinking.
Kids have enjoyed learning about their animals! There are many great websites out there that are third grade friendly. I love Enchanted Learning because they include a great diagram of the animal with captions. We've had great luck with National Geographic for Kids as well.

Are you interested in having your students work through a similar animal research activity? 
I have included this set in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. 
Click the link below to check it out!


  1. I love this idea! I also do an animal research project with my students and I really like the way you have set your up. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Doris... Love your blog. You have amazing ideas. I have to admit that most days when I check your blog, I keep it up for the great music! nice playlists!


  3. This is such a great way to guide students through their thinking and writing!!! Thank you! I plan to use it as soon as we return from spring break!!!


  4. Would you be willing to share the parts of your animal research folder - the cover, back and inside? Are they on tpt?

  5. I would love to have a copy of your research folder docs...this is wonderful! THanks for the wonderful ideas!

  6. I would love a copy of your research formats. Any way I could get it? Fantastic organization! Love it!

  7. I'm SOOO glad you will be able to use these. Check my next post. It includes the printables. You should be able to download and print. If not, email me:

  8. I love this idea! I definitely plan on using this when we do our animal research next year, it's perfect! Thanks so much for sharing.

    I am a fellow 3rd grade teacher and your newest follower :)

    3rd Grade Thoughts

  9. I love your idea of post its and the way you have your students organize their ideas! Thanks for sharing!

  10. We just finished a homeschool section focusing on writing a research report on an animal and this was such a god send. Thank you soooo much.

  11. Thank you so much for sharing! This is FANTSATIC! We start our endangered animal reports this week and I want to use some of your great ideas to keep us organized. I especially love the use of post it notes of quick sequencing and organization:)

  12. I will definitely be implementing this! Thank you for sharing. Do you have a copy of the cover or back cover??

  13. Good day! We would like to request your permission to reprint the image that was posted on this webpage: The photo will appear in a textbook that will be distributed in the Philippines. You may email your response at: Thank you.

  14. Do you mind if I use your photo of the circle diagram of ecosystem for an example in my grad school assignment? Thank you so much- Jenna Lehman