This time, I used the book The Otter Who Loved to Hold Hands by Heidi & Daniel Howarth. Before reading the book, I asked the students if they knew anything about otters. Some had heard of the animal, but weren't too sure what it was. So, we began to list some questions down that they had about otters. I explained to them that when you are trying to find answers to questions about a topic, it's called "doing research".
Then I asked them, "If we were doing research on otters, what could we use to find the answers to our questions?" and they immediately replied "Non-Fiction books!" (Yes, I admit to doing a little happy dance at their response!) So we ran over to the Non-Fiction section, and found a book about Otters. When we came back to the floor I told them that we could use the book to look up our answers, but there's something else we can use. This is when I introduced them to our databases, focusing on the absolutely wonderful Pebble Go! I showed them how, like a Non-Fiction book, a database gives us all kinds of facts about a topic.
We spent a few minutes reading the entry about otters, watching the video of them swimming, and even listening to the audio of their sounds. Then we read the story and several of the kids wanted to know if otters really do hold hands. I found this amazingly cute video here that shows two otters in a zoo holding hands as they float and sleep. They spent the rest of their library time investigating different animals on the database.
The next time we met, I read them clues from this fun book, What Animal Am I? by Caroline Hutchinson.
Afterwards, I asked them if they would like to create their very own Mystery Animal book. They were super excited, and right away started talking about the animal that they wanted to do. (It was extremely cute seeing them get this excited!) Since they were so into the project already I let them go onto Pebble Go to make sure the animal they wanted was on there or if they weren't sure what animal to do, they used this time to find one to research. At the end of our time, I showed them a sample of what our Mystery Animal book would look like:
On their next visit, we started out by going over the three research steps. I put up posters of Step #1: Plan, and reminded them that we would be making our own Mystery Animal books. We reviewed that we would be using the Pebble Go databases to find out answers.
Then we looked at Step #2: Do, and we read over the questions in the booklet so that they would know what to look for. (Once they have some experience with this process, we'll do this again and they will be able to choose their own questions.)
At the end of our time, I put up the last poster, Step #3: Review, and we checked to see if they needed more time to finish or needed more time to add better details so that they could be proud of their work.
Once everyone was done, we had a super share time and each student had an opportunity to get up in front of the class and share their clues while we tried to guess the correct animal. This was so much fun, and the students really enjoyed researching! I can't wait to do this again next year, much earlier, so that we will have time to do another one where they get to choose their own questions. I'm also excited to see if they remember doing this next year as first graders, when we bump up the three research steps to the Big 6 steps. You can read about that Recipe for Research activity on my blog here if you're interested.
If you'd like to try this with your own students, you can get a copy here at my TpT store or at Teacher's Notebook. I even included an alternative format that you can use for the second time around.
What experiences have you had with researching with Kindergarten? I'd love to hear your ideas!