Kids love animals. There is such a natural connection between animals and children, which makes using animals in your lessons a wonderful way to inspire kids, foster their curiosity, and encourage skill development. This Animal Research Journal Project is a great way to bring that love of animals to lessons in Sciences and English.
Research Journal Printable
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Critical Thinking Skills
In our quest to raise a generation with strong critical thinking skills, it is important that we start fostering those skills early. One way I enjoy doing this with my kids to to take something they are excited and passionate about, and encourage them to research and learn everything they can about it. As part of this process we work through learning what sources are reliable, and which are questionable and require further inquiry.
When doing this printable research project with your students, ensure you explore how to determine if a source is valid and can be trusted. This is especially important for kids that love to use the internet for their research.
In an age appropriate way, teach them to look for:
- Does the source have a proven track record for honest and unbiased information? For instance, if a company is writing a piece that supports their mission to sell certain products and make money, it is best to look for other sources. See if you can figure out the purpose and intention for the piece.
- Does the source have authority on the topic? If I am looking up information on animals, it is better to trust a veterinarian writing about the topic, than a person with no training or education in that area.
- Is the information accurate? The best way to confirm accuracy is to look for additional sources that can corroborate the information.
- Is it accurate? Look for disclaimers or discrepancies. Some sources will use a lot of technical jargon to try and sound official, but their information may be flawed.
- Is it current and relevant? With so many advances in our knowledge and sciences, it is important that you ensure any sources used are current and accurate based on the latest research. Look for a publication date. If the piece is quite old, see if you can find more current sources to confirm the information is still relevant.
Get the Printable
Using the Research Journal Printable
So how can we put all this together with our animal research journal project for early elementary?
First, print off the journal pages, there are colour or black and white options.
Ask your students to pick an animal they would like to research. For some kids this is a monumental decision! It could be a cat or a tiger, a whale or a mosquito. We intentionally designed the journal page to be as versatile as possible.
Most kids today love to immediately hop on the internet and start looking up stuff. They really love their Google! So let them go crazy for a bit and start finding information to fill out their journal page.
To start, I have my kids do a draft page (using the black and white journal page), where they start writing down any details they find. My kids also really love finding great photos.
Once they have had their fun on Google, we turn to our library. There we look for books and magazines by sources we know we can trust: National Geographic, Smithsonian, Children’s Encyclopedias, etc. With their books they can confirm the accuracy of the information they found online.
After they have verified all of their information and know it is accurate, they can fill in all the details on the colour page to complete their Animal Research Journal Report.
As a final touch, encourage kids to share their report and teach what they learned about their animal. This is a great way for kids to practice their speaking and presentation skills, and by teaching, it helps solidify the information in their own minds.
Most of all have fun learning about animals, research and critical thinking.