November 14, 2002
Here's what we did Friday, a beautiful fall day. We went outside for 10 minutes to walk around the building. Each person had to collect a handful of colorful leaves, pine needles, twigs, and mum blossoms...whatever. I had told the kids the art project would be to invent an imaginary animal. We reviewed the parts of an insect and talked about camouflage and mimicry (we'd been studying animal adaptation to climate and environment). Inside they assembled body parts on their papers and glued down what became a whole range of animals: a colorful cat, caterpillars, butterflies, fish, and winged creatures. After lunch, I put two note cards by each picture. Each child started at someone else's picture and wrote adjectives and names for the imaginary animal on one note card. Then they put that note card under the picture, out of sight. Someone else came to the picture and had to do the same thing in another 120 seconds... think of poetic phrases for this creature... write exotic example of where this animal might live or what it eats. Finally the owner came back to his picture. He could use the two people's suggestions or not. The owner had four minutes to write a descriptive paragraph of the animal as if it would appear in a science book. Now the fun begins Monday. What they don't know is that they will find their paragraphs--with names cut away-- posted with Letters on one side of the bulletin board. On the other side the pictures will be numbered. They must identify the species by the descriptive paragraphs in a grand matching game. I've done this for several years and my fourth graders love the challenge as well as appreciate their classmates' masterpieces. The activity helps us start a unit on descriptive writing and proves to the children why specific description is necessary.