Learning Resource Type

Lesson Plan

Lesson 2 - If We Ran the Zoo: How Do Animals Impact Our Environment? Research/Zoo Book

Subject Area

English Language Arts




The lesson will begin by reviewing the groups and animals assigned to each group. Students will begin working in their Zoo Booklets by discussing vocabulary that is associated with their animal. Students will use various types of text and other resources to find the information needed to learn more about their animal. Students will work cooperatively in groups to complete their animal research and complete their final project. 

This lesson was created as part of the ALEX Interdisciplinary Resource Development Summit.

    Science (2015) Grade(s): 2


    Obtain information from literature and other media to illustrate that there are many different kinds of living things and that they exist in different places on land and in water (e.g., woodland, tundra, desert, rainforest, ocean, river).

    Unpacked Content



    • Literature
    • Media
    • Diversity
    • Habitats
    • Woodland
    • Tundra
    • Desert
    • Rainforest
    • Ocean
    • River


    Students know:
    • Plants and animals are diverse within different habitats.


    Students are able to:
    • Obtain information from literature and other media.
    • Illustrate the different kinds of living things and the different habitats in which they can be found.


    Students understand that:
    • There are many different kinds of living things in any area, and they exist in different places on land and in water.

    Scientific and Engineering Practices

    Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

    Crosscutting Concepts

    English Language Arts (2021) Grade(s): 2


    Utilize active listening skills during discussion and conversation in pairs, small groups, or whole-class settings, following agreed-upon rules for participation.

    Unpacked Content



    • Active Listening
    • Discussion
    • Conversation
    • Rules
    • Participation


    Students know:
    • Active listening skills.
    • Agreed-upon rules for participation for discussions and conversations in a variety of settings.


    Students are able to:
    • Demonstrate active listening skills during discussion and conversation in pairs, small groups, or whole-class settings.
    • Converse in pairs, small groups, and large groups.
    • Practice the agreed-upon rules for participation.


    Students understand that:
    • Conversations and discussions follow agreed-upon rules to help us actively listen and gain understanding.
    English Language Arts (2021) Grade(s): 2


    Use digital and electronic tools appropriately, safely, and ethically for research and writing, both individually and collaboratively.

    Unpacked Content



    • Digital tools
    • Electronic tools
    • Appropriately
    • Safely
    • Ethically
    • Research
    • Individually
    • Collaboratively


    Students know:
    • Digital and electronic tools must be used appropriately, safely, and ethically.
    • Digital and electronic tools can be used for research or for writing tasks.
    • Digital and electronic tools can be independently or with others.


    Students are able to:
    • Engage in safe and ethical behavior when using digital and electronic tools individually and collaboratively.


    Students understand that:
    • Safe behaviors, interactions that keep you out of harm's way, are necessary when using digital and electronic tools.
    • Ethical behavior, interactions that align to one's moral code, are necessary when using digital and electronic tools.
    English Language Arts (2021) Grade(s): 2


    Gather and use research to answer questions to complete a research product.

    Unpacked Content



    • Gather
    • Research
    • Questions


    Students know:
    • Information must be gathered from a variety of sources, and the information can be used to answer questions.


    Students are able to:
    • Gather and use the research to answer questions and create a research product.


    Students understand that:
    • A research product requires gathering information from a variety of sources and using the research to answer questions.

    Primary Learning Objectives

    • Students will participate in discussions and conversations about background knowledge about a given topic.
    • Students will conduct research on their selected animal by using a variety of texts and digital sources.
    • Students will use digital and electronic tools safely and ethically for research and writing, individually and with a small group.

    Additional Learning Objective(s)

    • I can write a list of any pieces of information that I can remember from class discussions and digital media.
    • I can work cooperatively in groups to conduct research and produce a completed project.


    Before Strategy/Engage: 20 minutes

    1.  Students will move into their animal research groups of 4-5 students and begin discussing the role that each student will take within the group. The group leader will help facilitate as the rest of the group members decide who will take on the other available roles. Once all the members have an assigned role, the group will inform the teacher of each member's role.

    The following roles will be assigned:

    Leader (already assigned by teacher)- Makes sure everyone is working hard, getting along in the group, and following classroom and project rules.

    Problem Solver- Helps solve problems that the group may encounter. This person will be the liaison between the group and the teacher.

    Time Keeper- Reminds the group of how much time is left to complete the project and keeps other group members on task.

    Voice Controller- Keeps the group voice level to a whisper and encourages other group members to work quietly. When the group members get excited, this person will remind them to keep a low voice level.

    Materials Manager- Gathers all materials. This is the only person allowed to leave the group's work area to get materials, return extra materials, or throw away trash.

    2.  Each student will be given their zoo booklet/journal and will label their animal on the front cover. Students will add their job and a description of their job to the inside cover of their zoo booklet/journal. 

    During Strategy/ Explore & Explain: 90 (3- 30 minutes class periods)

    1. Students will begin a Table of Contents in their Zoo Booklet. The following list provides an example of the pages needed for the Table of Contents:

    • Vocabulary
    • KWL
    • Habitat
    • Diet
    • Parenting Style
    • Predator and/or Prey
    • Adaptation
    • Animal Diagram
    • Presentation Notes

    2.  Students will use books from the library, research from the internet, and other resources to find out as much information as they can about their animal. Once the group has started collecting information, they will add their information to their Zoo Booklet. Each child will be responsible for keeping up with all the information their group finds. Students will research information about the habitat, diet, parenting style, and predator/prey of their assigned animal, as well as any other information that might be beneficial for their research. Students may add additional entries to their Table of Contents if there is a subject that they feel is beneficial to their project.

    3.  The teacher should walk around the room as a facilitator to be sure that all students are actively participating in the group. The teacher will also make sure everyone is adding information to their Zoo Booklet.  If students are not actively participating, they will fall behind and will not be prepared when the time comes to present their presentation (Zoo Night with Parents- Lesson 3).

    After Strategy/Explain & Elaborate: 30 minutes

    1.  Students will meet one last time as a group and review their notes. As students review their research and project, they will prepare to give their presentation using the research collected on the Animal Research Pages. Groups will be responsible for coming up with their own presentation style. Examples of possible presentation formats include: 

    • Movie: Students will use iMovie to present their information to the class. They can use pictures and/or videos of themselves talking for the movie.
    • Game: Students will design a game board that presents their animal information.
    • 3-D printed animal or clay/playdough replica of their animal with examples
    • Slideshow (PowerPoint, Google Slides, etc.)

    2.  Students will create a presentation to present to an authentic audience (classmates, students from other classes, and/or parents). The presentation should include the following information from the students' research:

    • KWL
    • Habitat
    • Diet
    • Parenting Style
    • Predator and/or Prey
    • Adaptation
    • Animal Diagram

    3.  Once the students have acquired all their information, they will decide on the way they want to present their animal. In addition, a parent night could be planned so that students can showcase their animal research to their families. Each group will present their animal research to the parents. The products will be displayed around the school for the rest of the grade levels to view when traveling in the hallways.  

    Assessment Strategies

    Informal Assessments

    • Encourage students to assess and evaluate their work continually. 
    • At the end of each day, encourage students to reflect on what they learned and discuss their thoughts with their group.
    • The teacher will use mini-conferences while moving around the room to make sure groups are actively working and focusing on their end result.
    • As students complete their projects, they will reflect on the following:
      • the process they went through: 
        • asking questions 
        • participating in research 
        • documenting and recording information
        • sharing their findings
      • the products they produced: 
        • zoo booklet
        • the writing in their booklet
        • drawings
        • presentation

    Formal Assessment

    The teacher will formally assess students during the group presentation and demonstration. (Groups will be responsible for creating their own presentation formation. A few examples are movies, video games, 3-D printed animals with examples, or slide shows). The presentation will be graded on each member's participation in the presentation, how well the group members worked together, creativity, organization, and if all parts of the project are completed. Click here for a link to a grading rubric. 


    Students will use the information they acquired from research and expand their project by presenting additional information about their selected animal. Groups requiring acceleration may choose one of the following presentations:

    • 3-D Printer: Schools that have access to a 3-D printer can print a model of their animal. Students can then present the information from their research to the parents on Zoo Night. If a school does not have access to a 3-D printer, students can use clay or playdough to sculpt their animals for display.
    • ChatterPix: Students will draw a picture of their animals and use the ChatterPix app to describe their animal and research the group compiled.
    • Pod Cast: Students will talk about their animal and share the podcast with the teacher to listen to during parent/Zoo night.
    • Movie: Students will use iMovie to make a movie about their animal. They will video their group talking about their animal.
    • Google Slideshow
    • Game: Students will make a game board that will display different facts about their animal.  An example of a game would be Chutes and Ladders.  


    Students that require additional assistance, will be given help in looking up information on their animal. They will also be able to print off their information and glue it into their zoo booklets instead of having to write it down.  

    Approximate Duration

    Total Duration

    Greater than 120 Minutes

    Background and Preparation


    Student Background Information:  Prior to teaching this lesson, students need an understanding of the classification of animals. The teacher will divide students into 4 groups: Mammals, Birds, Reptiles, and Fish/Amphibians. Students will need to complete the Google Form that corresponds with their group. The teacher can send this form to students through Google Classroom. Once divided into groups, students will work on their Google Form and label their choices of animals by ranking them from 1-4 in order of their favorite to least favorite. Once students have completed their Google Form, the teacher will select a leader for the group, and students may begin their research. During the lesson, students will be required to navigate to a website using a technological device. Students will also be required to work in collaborative groups of 4-5 students. They will need to be familiar with the jigsaw strategy of breaking away from their group to create new groups for sharing information. 

    Teacher Background Preparation: The teacher should randomly divide the students into the four animal groups (mammals, amphibians/fish, birds, and reptiles). These groups can be arranged at the teacher's discretion. The teacher should review the Google Form and use the responses from the students to arrange students in cooperative groups. The teacher will view the responses and arrange the students into animal groups by looking at their choices. The teacher will try to give each student their top choice if at all possible. The teacher will also make sure to have enough resources for the students to use to collect their research. The teacher should be familiar with the jigsaw strategy of grouping students, and should also have the class divided into groups of 4-5 students for the lesson. 

    Below are the 4 classifications of animals that can be used for this project. A copy of this Google Form can be made to use in your classroom. This Google Form will allow the teacher to put the students in groups according to the animal that they wanted to research. When the teacher opens the link, he or she will need to make a copy in order to transfer ownership and then edit it to his or her specific needs.









    Materials and Resources

    Materials and Resources

    Student Materials

    • Post-it notes
    • Pencils
    • Notebook paper
    • Zoo booklet- This booklet consists of a zoo picture for the students to color as the cover, and 10 lined pages for the students to add their information.
    • Animal research pages (one example of this resource can be found on Teachers Pay Teachers: "Animal Wax Museum Project" by Tracy Tegeler)                              

    Student Materials (per group)

    • Group List
    • Chart paper
    • Markers
    • Books- the teacher should check out books from the library on amphibians, mammals, fish, reptiles, and birds to have for students to use during research.


    Teacher Materials:

    Assessment Rubric

    Technology Resources Needed

    • Internet-capable technology devices (iPads, Chromebooks, computers, etc.)- Students will use a device to assist in their research, and the teacher will use a device to show the videos at the beginning of the lesson.
    • LCD projector- this will assist the teacher in showing the videos to the entire class.
    • E-Mail/digital communication system- students will be able to email their group members and/or the teacher for support.