Get kids excited about research by creating diaries of animals or insects. The children's story Diary of a Worm, by Doreen Cronin, is a terrific tool for launching this lesson. Don't be fooled -- older students will enjoy listening to this fun children's book too!
diary, diaries, research, sequencing, sequence, note-taking, summarizing, creative, insect, animal, personification, writing process bibliography, citation, citing sources
Begin this lesson by asking students if they have ever kept a diary.
Read aloud to students from one of Diane Cronin's fun, factual books:
For these books, you might also find these resources useful:
After reading, discuss what is unusual about this diary. What did you learn about worms based on reading the diary?
Next, it's time to introduce today's writing lesson. Challenge students to choose an insect or another animal that they don't know much about. (If each student chooses a different animal or insect, sharing the diaries will be more fun.) Students will use the information they learn to write a Diary of a(n) _____.
Give students time to do some research to learn more about the animal they chose. They might use encyclopedias, nature books, other library books, or the Internet as their source(s). As they read, they should record interesting facts about the animal. Young students will need at least a few facts; older students might gather about ten facts to work into their Diary of a(n) ____.
You might have students copy facts about their animal onto note cards -- one fact per card. The cards will be easy to manipulate when it is time for them to organize their thoughts and writing.
Once students have organized their facts, they can begin creating a diary "written by" their animal. Younger students might write one or two diary entries; older students might write several entries or more.
When students have completed an edited "sloppy copy" of their diary entries, they can transfer those entries into a "diary" book (folded paper). They can illustrate each entry.
Older students might include a bibliography page on the back cover as a way to cite their research source(s).
End the assignment by allowing students to take a "gallery walk" of their classmates' animal diaries. As they walk around the room they can look through each other's books.
Extend the Lesson
Evaluate students' note cards and final diaries. Observe students as they read their own diary and as they listen to others. Assess the quality of students' grammar, punctuation, and word use. If you teach older students, you might also assess the diary contents.
Mary Pat Mahoney, Holy Trinity Catholic School in Grapevine, Texas
Copyright © 2010 Education World
Last updated 12/5/2011