Creating an All About book is honestly my favorite writing project of the entire year. My students just get so into it. I think it has to do with the fact that they feel like real researchers and they get to share their fun facts and findings with the rest of the class. I also love that this project has students practicing all different types of writing and while it includes the "traditional" paragraph writing pages, it also has other fun pages for students to share what they've learned about their animals.
I thought I would take a little time to share how we complete these informative research books in my first grade classroom.
Before we begin the project I head to a few local libraries and gather as many books as I can for 6-8 different animals. Some class favorites in the past have been:
I am sure to make the categories myself so I can control the amount of books I can gather for these animals so they are sufficient enough to run a research project! If I taught an older grade I may just let every student choose whatever animal they wanted, but it can be difficult to find books for my first graders to be able to read independently which is why I like to control this portion.
On the first day, my students simply complete a book walk to decide which animal they would like to research. I spread the books out all around the room, grouped by their animal and students spend 2-3 minutes at each station reading about the animals.
At the end, my students will vote for their top 3 animals they would like to research. I let my students know that they WILL get one of their top 3 animals, even if they don't get their first choice. That night, I put my students into groups based on their choices (usually 3-5 students for each animal).
Once their groups are made, we dive in! My students like to read their books and share some fascinating facts they have found about their animals.
Throughout the 3-4 week reading and writing project we dedicate time to all sorts of nonfiction text features and different types of nonfiction writing. In order to complete many of the pages, we have to research first! While I want my students to read the books, I also want them to get used to searching online databases and websites for information we need as well.
I gathered 5 of my favorite websites for young students to research their animals and explained a bit about each one below:
You need a license for this site, but is SO kid friendly and my first graders learn a ton from the different databases. There is one for animals, science, biographies, and social studies. In the animal database they can learn all the basics about many different animals, watch videos of the animals and even hear the animals make noise.
This site has many different articles about all sorts of animals and has great photographs of the animals. Your students will definitely be intrigued by the fun comparisons. Did you know a polar bear weighs more than a piano and is shorter than a school bus?
The famous San Diego Zoo has their own website for kids to showcase the animals they have at the zoo. They include photos and facts such as where in the world each animal lives, what their habitat is, and what they like to eat.
Ranger Rick's website has plenty of facts for students to learn all about their favorite animals from amphibians to mammals to reptiles!
The Wild Kratts on PBS is a fun show about two brothers who are always trying to save an animal from something. Along the way, you learn all sorts of fun facts about those animals. On their website they have a "Creaturepedia" where students can click around and search for animals by grouping, region or habitat.
As we work through the project, students complete their very own:
- Cover page
- Table of Contents
- Dedication Page
- Different Types Page
- How to Page
- Where ____________ Lives Page
- What _____________ Eats Page
As we complete each page, I show examples and model creating my very own page in front of the class:
click to enlarge
My students actually make each of those pages TWICE since we do rough drafts, edit, revise, and then publish our books! So every students will have a 9-10 page book by the end and many of your "fast finishers" will add more pages to tell different fun facts about their animals! I also have some of my fast finishers go back and add in some fun captions with an activity I call "caption action!"
The books come out quite amazing at the end and both students and parents are impressed! Here are a few pages from some of my students in the past (the pictures are from a camera phone like 5 years ago, so don't mind the quality!):
click to enlarge any of the above pictures!
You can grab all the lesson plans, templates, teacher tips, and more shown above in my All About Book unit! Just click on my informative writing cover below:
You can grab this unit discounted too, if you want to grab the bundle of my first grade writing units which also includes an opinion writing unit and a personal narratives unit: