A First Grade Scientific Unit on Mammals By Amanda Fletcher and Mrs. Dailey’s First Graders
Progression of Ideas Living and Non-living things Basic Needs of Mammals Characteristics of Mammals Reproduction and Growth of Mammals Classification of Mammals
The Big Question…What did the students learn? The first graders completed a cross-curricular final assessment for this unit. Students used what they had learned in our Writing Workshop unit on nonfiction to create “All About Mammals” nonfiction books. In the computer lab earlier this week, students were making webs to organize ideas for their All About Mammals books.
Student Interviews I interviewed three focal students before teaching the unit to gauge their prior knowledge on mammals. Then, I interviewed these students again at the end of the unit to determine what they learned. Here are a few samples of the interview questions…
Focal Student OneA high achieving student in the class Answer before our mammals unit: “It is warm blooded and does not swim.” Interview Question: What is a mammal? Answer after our mammals unit: “A mammal has a backbone, is warm blooded, has fur, hair, or wool, and gets milk from its mom.”
Focal Student TwoAn average student in the class Answer before our mammals unit: “Well, if an animal acts like a person then it’s a mammal, because people are mammals. So a monkey can eat bananas or probably go across monkey bars just like people, so it’s a mammal.” Interview Question: What makes something a mammal? Answer after our mammals unit: “A mammal always has hair or fur, and it is born alive. It gets milk from it’s mommy, too.”
Focal Student ThreeA lower achieving student in the class Answer before our mammals unit: “A mammal is a woman.” Interview Question: What is a mammal? Answer after our mammals unit: “Mammals have fur and get milk from their moms. They are animals, too.”
Which pieces of this unit helped the students learn so much about mammals? I think that by making this unit more hands-on and inquiry based, the curious first graders really became scientists!
Peter Rabbit Pete was our classroom pet for the duration of the mammals unit. Pete allowed our unit to be more inquiry based. He also made science fun and exciting for the first-graders!
The Wonder Wall The wonder wall was located in the mammals corner of the classroom. At certain times throughout the day, students could post questions about mammals onto the wonder wall. Each day, we would try to answer the questions together based on what we had learned so far in the unit, or by using books and other resources in the classroom.
Our Trip to Kensington Park During the last week of the mammals unit, we took a field trip to Kensington Park to observe animals in their natural habitat. The timing for the field trip was perfect! The students enjoyed applying what they had learned about mammals in a real-world setting.
Especially the: • Inquiry based lessons • Hands-on lessons In conclusion, the unit was a success!