Measuring Animals, Plants and Making Graphs

In Math, the children have been practicing linear measurement. Since we have been researching what our animals look like, we decided to use some of the information we collected to practice figuring out which tools to use and how to use them. The students were asked, “What tool do you think you should use to measure your animal?”

A ruler Mari
A ruler or meter stick Shunye
A trundle wheel Chanu
Other students said they would need a meter stick or a measuring tape.

On the playground, the children were asked to draw a line in chalk to represent the length of their animal. Next to the line, they wrote the measurement as well as the animal’s name. Ken took a picture of each student next to their measurement.


In Chanu’s case we needed students to help show how long his animal is, using their bodies. After all, the blue whale is the largest animal on Earth! Can you see how many Grade Two students it takes to measure a blue whale? Ken had to take two pictures to fit the whole animal in the frame! You might have to zoom in to count the little bodies laying on the playground!

During our measuring experience, some students had problems trying to figure out how to measure really long things with the tools they had. Kai’s measuring tape was only 150 centimeters long, but his animal, the Laysan albatross’s wingspan is about 3 meters. What could he do? With a little prompting, he was able to figure out that he could measure one meter at a time to make 3 meters. Chanu had an enormous predicament. He tried to measure the length of the blue whale and ran out of room. With some prompting, he started measuring where the yellow play area meets the rest of the playground. Unfortunately, he still ran out of room. He solve the problem by making a turn. After a quick chat, he realized that he it was okay to go outside the white lines, so he just extended his line toward the stairs. Other students had their measurements in feet, which they realized they couldn’t measure with metric tools. With a bit of help to convert to the metric system, they were able to measure easily.

Click on the photo below to see a slideshow in flicker.
2C Measuring Animal Length

2C also practiced measuring some potato plants over a two to three week period. They measured five plants and then six after one finally sprouted.


As scientists, they collected quite a bit of data in their charts. Several students realized that their charts were quite messy and hard to read. Since they have learned that scientists need to collect and record their data carefully, several students made their chart again. In the end, they all had at least five days worth of potato plant measurements.

Our next step was to learn about what type of graph is used for showing change over a period of time. We talked about different types of graphs, such as the pictograph and bar graphs. Next, we watched a video on Brainpopjr to learn about line graphs. We looked at our data about the toads to find our highest and lowest number of toads per day. This helped us to decide what type of scale we would use. Then we used the data we collected on our toads to create a line graph as a class.


Finally, each student used the data from one of the plants to create their own line graph, including title, subtitles, labeling, and scale. Here are a few examples.

Making Connections Between Humans and Nature at Oi Bird Park

The Grade 2 students were true inquirers during our field trip to the Oi Bird park on Wednesday. The purpose of our trip was to make observations of the marshlands and the species living there to help us understand more about how human activities can challenge plant and animal survival.

Click on the photo below to see a slide show in Flickr.

As we walked along the trails and looked out the windows from the blinds onto the mudflats, the students observed, took pictures, questioned, made connections, talked about what they saw and wondered.

Back in the classroom, we listed and drew pictures of the plants, animals and human-made things that we noticed at Oi Bird Park. Next, using the prompts listed below, we thought about our ideas, shared our ideas with a partner and wrote our ideas down in sentences.

-How are the animals and plants at Oi Bird Park connected in the food chain or food web?

-How did the human-made things at Oi Bird Park hurt or help the animals and plants?

-How do animals connect to the marshland or forest environments by using camouflage?

Here is what the children wrote after thinking about and discussing their ideas with a partner.

I think the great egret eats fish. Then the fish eat plankton.
I think humans harm nature by habitat loss and global warming.
I think that toads can camouflage at water.

The great egret is eating lots of fish.
I think the fish eat other fish.
The jungle crow camouflaged in the dark.

I saw a bee eating a flower.
I think the bee takes the pollen.
I saw a crab that was in the pond, and it was brownish like the pond (mud).

Chan Seo
Water is needed by living things.

I think crabs eat grass.
The human that made that place is helping animals.
A toad was camouflaged because the toad was brown, and it was on a brown dirt.

A spider makes a web, and when a bug gets stuck in the web, the spider eats it.
I saw a human cutting a tree.
I think the human is going to make something else with the tree.

I saw ants eating bugs. I think bugs eat blood.
Paths hurt ants because paths destroy their home.
I saw a toad camouflaged on a leaf.

I think the baby snail ate the tree.
I think the lizard laid on the rock to find food to eat.
I think the people are hurting the bird because the bird cannot live at the bamboo or the lizard cannot live at the bamboo (which was cut down).

I think the Japanese beetle eats the ladybug.
I saw a snail eating a tadpole.
I think plants help animals because the plant has a tree, and birds will
live (in the tree).
A human cut down the trees so it hurts the nature.
In the water the snail was camouflaging and the mud was slippery.

I saw a bird, and the bird was black, and the branch was black, so I couldn’t see the bird well.

Humans hurt the nature by cutting down trees!
I saw a toad in a muddy lake, and it was camouflaged in the muddy lake!

A spider caught a bug and ate it.
They make bird houses, and let the bird be safe.
A toad was camouflaged in the water.
A lizard was camouflaged on a rock.

I think a beetle eats a baby ladybug.
I think a spider eats big bugs.
Toads eat flies.
When people cut down trees, other people will lose oxygen, and when birds are on the tree that people are cutting, the bird will be flat like a fly.
I saw in the water a path, and I think a snail or a slug made the path because the color of the skin looks like the dirt in the water.

Many students saw a lizard, but I didn’t see anything, but I know it eats flies.
I think the blind hurts plants and animals because it is crushing the plants, and they chop down trees to make the blind.
I did not see the green lizard hiding on in the green leaf, because they’re the same color.

I think the spiders eat the bugs by using it’s web.
I think bees suck the nectar from the flower.
I think some kinds of birds eat the fish.
Grasshoppers camouflage in plants.
Lizards camouflage on rocks.
Toads camouflage on rocks.

I think I saw a spider eating a white dot.
I saw people cutting down trees.
People made fences and the birds might get hurt.
I saw a toad camouflaging itself in the water. I think it was scared to see people.
I saw a grasshopper camouflaging itself so well because first I couldn’t see it. It was hiding in a leaf.

I think I saw a great egret eating a fish.
I saw a person cutting down trees.
I saw that the blind was made out of wood.
I saw grasshopper camouflaging. I thought it was good at camouflaging because it was on a leaf, and I couldn’t see it well.

Understanding Our Central Idea and Learning to Research

To look more deeply at our central idea, “Human activities can challenge plant and animal survival”, I asked the children the following questions:

What is ‘need’?

-Need is when you have to do something, or you want to do something. Takafumi
-I think need means that you have to have that. Nina
-I think a need means that you want something. Lavanya

What does survival mean?

-I think survival means when someone is alive and still lives. Carolina
-Survive means to live. Albin
-Survival means when you are in the jungle, you cannot be weak, and you have to be strong because maybe there are animals that fight you. Kai
-I think survival means that you have lives. Mika

What do living things need to survive?

-I think they need to eat and drink to survive. Daniel
-I think survival means that if you need to run, and you want to rest, but you don’t have much time, and you have to run for your life. I think that is survival. Shunye
-I think living things which are surviving need food, air, water, and shelter to survive. Chanu
-I think living things need water to live. Troy
-I think living things need a house to live. Himari

How do plants and animals depend on each other?

-The plants help animals and people because the plants make air. Taka
-Trees make air good. Chaeeun
-I think animals help each other by giving food to each other like birds give food to their babies. Yellana
-Trees can help animals. Trees have a little bit of water so if that water came out that animal can drink it. Mari
-Animals need each other. If there is a human that wants to hurt an animal and another can save the other animals cause the other animal is stronger. Carolina
-I think that animals and plants both need each other because sometimes in the sea some octopuses want to eat hermit crabs, and some kind of sea plant protects the hermit crabs, and the hermit crab sometimes feed the sea plant that rescued it. Chanu
-I think animals need each other. Some meat eating animals (carnivores) have to eat meat, and if there were no meat they might die. Chan Seo
-I think the animals need each other. Maybe there is an old animal and a young animal. The old animal is not strong enough to get food, so maybe the young animal can help him. Lindsey

For the past few weeks, the Grade Twos have been learning about the features in nonfiction books, and soon they will be writing a nonfiction book about an endangered plant or animal of their choice. To learn how to write a nonfiction book, we have been looking into green sea turtles as a class. We began by reading about them and taking notes about what we learned. To practice note-taking the children worked in groups. Each member of the group was given a card to help them focus on a certain aspect of note-taking such as: key words/phrases, using a new line for a new fact, abbreviating, and using symbols.


The groups read paragraphs about the green sea turtle, collaborated to take notes on stickies and then placed the stickies on the appropriate page in our organizer.

Next, we checked our work to see that we organized it correctly and also looked at what we wrote to see that it was in note form. We have been learning to write just enough words to remind us about what we need to remember.

This week, the children searched for books about their chosen animal and began to read and research, using an organizer and sticky notes. They are organizing their information according to the following questions:

What does it look like?
Where does it live?
What does it eat?
How does it behave?
How do humans hurt it?
How do humans help it?

Click on the photo below to see a slideshow in Flickr.
2C Animal Research

An Inquiry into Non-Fiction Books

For the next few weeks, the Grade 2s will be working with Miss Katy and Mrs. Karr to investigate non-fiction texts and their features. To get us started, the children were asked to get into pairs and come up with one question related to our central idea, “Human activities can challenge plant and animal survival.” Within a few minutes, the pairs began putting their questions up on the wall.

Here are some of the children’s wonderings…

-How can we save the world? Takafumi and Kai
-What if water runs out? Carolina and Chanu
-How do humans survive deadly animals like snakes, big centipedes, alligators, tigers, bears, etc. Ali
-How can we stop us from littering? Lavanya and Nina
-What is there life cycle? Troy and Shunye
-Why do people kill animals? Yellana and Mika
-How do dolphins jump very high? Himari and Damia
-How does pollution affect animals? How can we stop pollution? Sam
-How do people pollute? Daniel and Chaeeun
-What should we do to save our planet’s animals? Seonyul
-How do humans affect animals? What shouldn’t we do? Ophelia
How do we care for animals and plants? Jingyi
How do we save plants? Mary
-How do humans affect how animals act to each other? Johnny
–How can we save animals and plants? Seonyul
-How do we save the trees animals and other nature stuff? Ryu
-Why do you get a lot of money for shark fin soup? Albin
-Why do people attack rhinos? Mari and Lindsey
-Human and animals which is important? Kane
-I want to learn more about wolves. Hamish
– How do we save nature? Saneyuki
-What do centipedes eat? Valmik


Last week, Mrs. Karr read a non-fiction book to the children. During our session, we looked at the different features that make up non-fiction books such as: table of contents, photos, captions, diagrams, graphs, subtitles, bold-faced words, glossary and index.


This week, the children looked at various non-fiction books with their partners. Most of the children had books that they had found to research their chosen animal or plant. They were asked to work together to find a fact of some sort about their animal or plant. Then they had to think about what non-fiction feature helped them to find this fact. To show their thinking, the children wrote their facts on sticky notes and placed them underneath the feature that helped them.

How Wolves and Deer Change Rivers

On Monday, 2C did a provocation to get them interested in our new Unit of Inquiry, “Human activities can challenge plant and animal survival.” The students were given this question to answer. Do you think wolves or deer can change the geography of the land? Explain why or why not. As expected one of the children asked, “What is geography?”

We looked at the question again. I tried to get them to notice that the question read “the geography of the land”. This helped a bit and the students made lots of suggestions. We realized that geography had to do with natural things such as: trees, plants, rivers, seas, oceans, volcanoes, lakes, animals, mountains, rocks, beaches, etc.

Then the children wrote their responses to the questions and explained why they thought this. Afterwards, we watched a video called, How Wolves Change Rivers.

As the video moves quite quickly and is loaded with valuable information, we watched the movie several times, while pausing to talk about the video. The children offered examples of cause and effect from the video to explain how wolves were able to change the geography of Yellowstone National Park. To help visualize this, we put our examples into the Cause and Effect Brain Frame below.


After talking about the video and creating the Brain Frame, we asked the children to answer the same question again. This is a version of our “I Used to Think… Now, I Think…” routine.

Here are some examples of what the children said…


I used to think that wolves and deer can change the geography because drinking the water from the pond and then it will go away!
Now I think that wolves and deers can change the geography of the land because deers eat plants then the roots will die then the river is going to collapse then the wolves killed the deer then the roots will come back and the dirt will get held by the roots. The river will hold. The soil will be hard then it will not collapse.


I used to think that wolves and deers cannot change the geography because geography are big things.
Now I think that wolves and deers can change the geography of the land. Because the wolves ate animal and animal went away. And when the wolf eat animal. It formed lots of things and when the wolves came back there was lots of trees leaves and things.


I used to think that wolves and deer can change the geography because they could live or survive at some of them for example: drink from the lake.
Now I think that wolves and deers can change the geography of the land because if the roots at the tree held the river and the deers ate all the plants. Then the rivers [banks] are unstable.


I used to think that wolves and deers can change the geography of the land because deers eats plants and wolves can go to the trees.
Now I think that wolves and deer can change the geography of the land because the wolves killed some of the deers and because of that the birds came back. The deers were eating the trees.

Chan Seo

I used to think that wolves, deers change the geography by running and change the land, because by drinking too.
Now I think that the deer ate too much plants so there were no trees so the wolf scared away or ate the deer and then the trees grew and nature came back.


I used to think that wolves and deers can change the grass and trees because they eat them.
Now I think that deer eats and eats the plants and the wolves came to scare them away so the plants grew again.


I used to think because wolves and deers can’t change a river, hill, ponds. Because I think they’re not strong enough.
Now I think that wolves and deers can change geography of the land because they ate the coyote so the rabbit, mouse, weasels came back.


I used to think that wolves and deers can change some of the land, because wolves can’t change lakes, but they can change beaches because they dig in the sand.
Now I think that wolves and deer can change the geography of the land because the deers eat leafs and flowers, then when they wolves came it scared away the deers, then the flowers and grass grew.


I used to think that wolves and deer can change the plants because maybe wolves and deers might cover the plant when the sun is too hot.
Now I think that wolves and deers can change the rivers because when the wolves are near by the deer the deers run away because wolves eat deers… If the deers are eating the plants the root will be dead. So if the roots are dead it can not hold the part [banks of the river] cause it will be straight. So the birds, mice, rabbits came back.