Saturday, April 07, 2012

Any Thoughts on DIORAMAS Much Appreciated...

I love this time of the year. I feel like the kids are surpassing my expectations, rich learning can be seen everywhere and routines are old hat. This time of year also makes me sad. Kids will be going on to their next class in just a few short months. {sniffle} It's always at this time of the school year that I wish I could stay with the same kids for two years in a row. I think that it's called "looping" (?) and if that is the correct term, sign me up. I think. Errrr...on second thought...

My grade 2/3 class is finishing up an Animal Research Project that I purchased (only $3.50!) from Kimberley Gillow's tpt store:
(100% recommend btw)

This resource is laid out in a fun, easy to follow format that gets the kids "feet wet" for researching. Habitat, appearance, babies, predators, food, interesting facts are headings that the kids have to find information for. Our school librarian (who absolutely ROCKS) found up all the books the kids needed after they each picked a topic of their own. Dodo birds to giraffes to Mario (which I kiboshed)...and everything in between. After showing them how to look up information and how to make a list of important facts for each heading, kids practiced paragraph writing using the Stoplight Paragraph method. We've been working on paragraph writing all year, but this method seems to have really stuck for them:
(free download from tpt)

After writing rough copies or drafts, peer editing and revising took place. For the published copy, kids are making a PowerPoint presentation, including transitions, background colour, images and even sound. They were a little frustrated at first, but have persevered and are LOVING it. My little Mario hopeful even made a turtle pp so that he could then make a Mario one in his "free time."

My final step is making a diorama. Okay-here is the question: Are dioramas passe? I think my kids (especially the kinesthetic ones) would excel at this part of the project. I am thinking that they can use half size (I'll cut) pop flats for the base. Materials from home, supply cupboard, etc can be used for the ground (kids would have to make it authentic to their animal). Salt dough animals, small extras can be made. Vegetation can be picked from home or made from construction paper, foam, etc. **I would add labels to our dioramas.

Personally, I think it would be a fantastic culminating activity. Kids would have to use their learning/knowledge to construct an authentic model for their animal. 

If all goes well, we will have an showcase in our classroom and invite other classes to come and see our wildlife exhibition...including PowerPoints :)

So, too much or inquiry based learning? Diorama or overkill?
ps We've been doing lots of other stuff, too...just in case you're wondering...we work on our projects 2 times a week so that the kids don't become sick of them.


  1. Yep, it's called looping. I really enjoy this time of year too. I've got 'em where I want 'em or at least pretty close. Then I have to give them away and start all over again. Sigh. :)
    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

    1. I hear and feel your pain :(

  2. Hey Keri,
    I love this project that you are doing. I also do something very similar. I often present it as though we are creating a new zoo for our city. I use the website and create a fictional character from our city who asks the students to design a new zoo.
    When the students are finished with their research and have created their habitat boxes (aka the animal's zoo cage) we have other classes come in to see our zoo. We also arrange the projects according to their native location in the world. For example, we have the North American animals, the African...etc. They love it and other classes are excited to come visit our zoo. Following this, I take my class to the zoo for our last field trip of the year.
    So, are dioramas overkill? I vote no. I am definitely doing this project again. :)
    Mrs. Ward's Teaching Journal

    1. That sounds wonderful and like something the kids will always remember! I really like the idea of grouping the animals together according to location...I am also going to check out Thank you so much for your input!!

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  4. No Mario?! haha, That was so cute. We do animal reports and finish up with bean mosaics. I think dioramas would be fine too, especially with labels. Our kindergarten classes always make the cutest ones and hang them in the hallway like little shadowboxes.

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    Ms. Fultz’s Corner

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