Friday, April 14, 2023

Learning About Animals with Read-Aloud Books

Books about animals are universally appealing. So many of our students seem to have an unquenchable thirst to learn more about every kind of animal!  What better way to learn more about animals than through great read aloud books!

Using good read alouds was always a big part of my science teaching. These non-fiction books are such a great way to introduce or review concepts and vocabulary. A read aloud book is also a great way to kick off a writing project!

What makes a good non-fiction read-aloud for the primary grades? There are so many factors! As a start, I'd suggest taking these into account when making your book selections.

Typically, I'd be looking for books with photographs, particularly if you have students who haven't had the opportunity to visit a zoo or animal park.

That being said, my personal favorites among animal books are written and illustrated by the amazing Steve Jenkins. 

These books may not have photos, but they have awesome illustrations. I love that the size of the books is large enough and the illustrations are bold enough that even the kids at the back of your story circle can see them easily!  Plus, these books definitely have that WOW factor that will keep your students engaged and begging for more!

Pull out any one of Steve Jenkins' books and watch your students' eyes light up!

Have you read this Caldecott Honor Award Winner?  It's in the format of a guessing book. Students are shown a snout, ears, feet, etc. and then learn which animal the body part belongs to  and how the animals uniquely use that part.

Have you heard your students argue about which animal is faster, the cheetah or the falcon?  Kids love records - they'll be reading those Guinness Record books in just a few short years! Here's a Steve Jenkins book that will feed their curiosity about which animal is fastest, strongest, longest - the record holders of the animal world!

My favorite? Without a doubt, it's Actual Size! Your students will be amazed as the pages of this clever book unfold to display the actual size of a squid's eyeball or a gorilla's hand. You'll hear lots of oohs and aahs when you read this one... and they usually want to hear this book again and again!

As your students become animal experts, here are two resources you'll enjoy using!

This set of 24 riddle cards plus related activities is a fun way to reinforce learning about animal characteristics, habitats, and classes.

If you're looking for a whole class activity, a game of I Have ... Who Has... is always a hit! The animal theme makes them a perfect fit for your animal studies. If the reading level is a bit tough for some of your students, just assign "support partners" - a weaker reader with a stronger one!

Happy Teaching!

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