Private All Girls School

Preschool-High School

Princeton, New Jersey

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Lower School Animal Expo showcases interdisciplinary learning unit in STEM, literacy, art and more!

Lower School Animal Expo showcases interdisciplinary learning unit in STEM, literacy, art and more!

Students in junior kindergarten, Grade 1 and Grade 3 recently finished their non-fiction, interdisciplinary unit on animals. This incredible project integrated STEM, social studies, literacy, art, technology, library, and research skills into each grade's unit of study. The unit culminated with an animal expo for families and the Stuart community to see all of the girls' hard work proudly on display. Below is a breakdown of the expo by grade and discipline. Click here for photos of the expo, which is still available for viewing in Millie's Garden.

Junior Kindergarten

SOCIAL STUDIES

After reading many non-fiction books about birds, the JK students selected a bird to study that is native to central NJ in winter. They looked at pictures to learn to identify the bird and to identify male vs. female.

STEM & TECHNOLOGY

Students gathered information about winter birds in New Jersey using a variety of sources. They researched classification, diet, and habitat. They learned about different types of beaks and adaptations, and they identified birds coming to the bird feeder. They have been watching the live Cornell bird cam and Duke Farms eagle cam. They learned more details about eagles with the eagle kit that Ms. Nickerson borrowed from Duke Farms. They will also visit the chickens in the coop and learn about the chickens' body structure and behaviors.

ART

In art class, students made different New Jersey birds using clay, which they painted with glazes. They designed their research birds using oil pastels. In home- room, the students drew their bird using crayons, pencils, and copying a drawing from illustrations in a book. Students also painted birdhouses using acrylic paint.

LANGUAGE ARTS/INFORMATION LITERACY

The JK students studied NJ winter birds and identified five birds that would likely be attracted to the classroom bird feeder. They compiled three facts about each bird from a variety of nonfiction sources.

First Grade

The first grade students participate in a year-long study of farms and farm animals, which includes visits to the historic Howell Farm and the modern Fernbrook Farm. For the Animal Expo, each student researched a specific farm animal. The research was used to make a student-created book about the animal that will allow them to share their knowledge with classmates.

SOCIAL STUDIES

The first grade social studies curriculum is centered on life "then" and "now." The students researched the products that animals produce and the jobs that they do on a farm, and how those roles have changed over time.

STEM & TECHNOLOGY

The first grade applied their literacy skills, using print and online sources, to gather information about the farm animal and its characteristics such as classification, animal families, and shelter. Using a block coding app, the students created animated slides to share facts about their chosen animal.

ART

Both in homeroom and art class, students created illustrations and other art projects depicting their animals. They designed individual sculpture projects with "terra cotta" or red clay, painted with glaze.

LANGUAGE ARTS/INFORMATION LITERACY

The first graders learned how to navigate a variety of nonfiction sources via text features such as table of contents, headings, and diagrams. Using the Good Writer's Checklist, they self-edited their drafts and polished their final, published piece.

Third Grade

Each third grader selected a NJ native animal to research and will write, edit, and publish an informational report about their animal. Students will share one page of their report during the Animal Expo and present their final, complete report during Lenape Day.

SOCIAL STUDIES

The students will tie the study of their animal to the ongoing unit on Lenape culture, incorporating how the NJ native animals helped the Lenape to survive.

STEM & TECHNOLOGY

Third graders learned about their animal's adaptations and the current environmental status. They evaluated the question, "Does this— and could this—animal survive in the Stuart woods?" Applying engineering and design skills, each student chose a culminating project: a 3D mechanical model demonstrating structural adaptations or a design sketch of sustainable/green architecture. Students collectively developed questions for an online quiz game and will be learning a page layout app to design report covers.

ART

Students created art projects depicting their animals in oil pastels and designed Joseph Cornell-inspired boxes.

LANGUAGE ARTS/INFORMATION LITERACY

Students learned about specific features of nonfiction text and how to research nonfiction topics. They also added to their writer's toolkit with skills such as dynamic intros, specific facts and details, and transitional words. They are also learning how to properly cite their sources.

Click here for photos.

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