Search Keyword:
Grade Level:
Search in:
Advanced Search
Animal Detectives - Published Version
Content Topic:
Animals, research, inquiry, questioning
To prepare for a trip to the petting zoo, students will visit the media center to research animals they might find on their fieldtrip. The students, in three groups, will work to separate fiction from non-fiction, discover facts about the animals as ‘animal detectives,’ and create a list of new information. Then together, they will devise one question about each animal and they will seek out the answers at the petting zoo. Each group will present its findings to the rest of the class.
Collaboration Potential:
Science Teacher
Total Estimated Time:
2 hours
Suggested Number Of Sessions:
  • Animal Detectives notebook worksheet (SM1_AnimalDetectives)
  • Pencils
  • Paper
  • Assorted fiction and non-fiction information resources on petting zoo animals
  • Lists of questions for the petting zoo created by students
  • List of petting zoo animals
  • Hay bales
Instruction / Activities:

Day 1

Direct instruction:

Students will come from classroom with classroom teacher (CT) and either an aide or a parent volunteer to the library, already divided into three groups.  Each of the three adults (TL CT, aide/parent) will sit at a table with a group of students.  On each table will be fiction and non-fiction books and magazines about animals.  In order to gain students’ attention, TL will have replaced the chairs at the library tables with small hay bales and will have a magnifying glass as a detective prop.  Once students are seated at the tables, TL will briefly introduce the idea of being ‘animal detectives’ by using the preselected library resources (books, magazines) to hunt for facts about petting zoo animals.  TL will distribute Animal Detectives worksheet (see SM1_AnimalDetectives) and outline the lesson’s components and expectations.  TL will review the concepts of fiction and non-fiction.


Modeling and guided practice:

TL will model separating fiction and non-fiction and ask students to put the resources into two piles:  one that tells stories about the animals (fiction) and one that has information about the animals (non-fiction).  


Independent practice:

Students will then each choose materials from the non-fiction pile to find facts about the petting zoo animals.  Once they find a fact about an animal, they’ll tell the adult facilitator of the group who will write it down on the worksheet.   Each student will contribute at least one fact to the worksheet.  If a student has trouble finding a fact in his/her resource, the other students in the group can suggest a different resource.   If one student’s reading skills are prohibiting fact-finding, the other students can assist by helping with certain words or the adult can read sections of a resource out loud so that the student can pick out facts after hearing them.


Sharing and reflecting: 

After the group has chosen at least 6 facts about the petting zoo animals, the adult will read them back to the group to be sure everyone has heard and understands the facts. 

The groups will then each discuss a question they’d like to ask the petting zoo guide during the field trip, and write it down on the worksheet.   The students should be encouraged to think about what they already know, from their research, and what they’d like to know after the visit. 


Day 2

Sharing and reflection:

All the groups will rejoin and the students will be asked to ‘teach’ their classmates their fact about the animal they researched.   Each group will stand up together and individually tell their facts.  TL will remind the students that they can find information in the library about any subjects they study with their teacher, and that she looks forward to hearing what the answers to their questions are after they return from the field trip.



Day 3 (field trip to petting zoo) 

Sharing and reflection:

On the morning of the field trip, students will be given the list of three questions that they came up with in the library as a reminder.  When they return from the petting zoo, they’ll go over the questions and the answers together in class and the CT will write them on the board and invite the TL to the classroom so she can learn from the students.

Website by Data Momentum, Inc.