Updated Animal Research Reports + Wilderness Walk

We study Colorado Animals every year and it is so much fun for kids to delve deeper into the animals we see in our area.

I posted about our Publishing Party last year, and this year we did it a bit differently. This was mostly due to the fact that we are running out of time and we have different standards to address this year as our district moves towards Common Core... never a dull moment!

I wanted to first teach kids how to organize notes into specific categories. We began by assembling our "Note Card Rings" that consisted of five note cards  each a different color, hole-punched in the corner with a binder ring connecting them:

On the top of each card, we wrote the topic for that card and a guiding question. Here's how I split it up this year:

- Habitat: Where to they live?
- Diet: What do they eat?
- Description: What do they look like?
- Predators/Prey: What do they hunt? What hunts them?
- Interesting Facts

Of course, you could easily adjust and/or add to these. I liked the Predator/Prey card this year because it tied in nicely with the Science Penguin's Food Webs Unit we were studying in Science Weekly 5 and it added a bit of humor when they realized they were another classmate's predator or prey :)

As they researched, this Note Card Ring could be added to with additional cards, if needed, and was easily transportable around the classroom, computer lab, and while meeting with me.

Final Presentation

We did not do a written report this year, and I needed something engaging, easy, and informative for kids to display what they learned. I landed on File Folder Displays. Here's a quick how-to:

I had each student print out a picture of their animal and glue to one of the open tabs:

They then had the rest of that class time to add details about their habitat, diet, and/or predators and prey. I had them just use white paper and their own artistic-ness to make the details and they did beautifully :)

The next work time, we then looked through our Note Card Ring and chose two facts per card that were the most interesting. These were to be added onto their File Folder Displays in the form of a label, caption, or speech bubble from their animal or other animals that they added (predator/prey/etc.):

This was the part I *loved* the most because the kids' quotes were hilarious!! It was wonderful seeing them combine facts but add their personality into their pieces.

I should take this time to mention that (as usual), we had a rubric we had developed as a class as we went through each step of the process. I used a similar rubric to last year's, but obviously had to change a few things around. Here's this year's copy:

Wilderness Walk

At the end of all of this hard work, we had a "Wilderness Walk" where we could go around and see each other's File Folder Displays and learn all about their animal. I gave each student a sheet with the list of animals on it with directions to write one thing you learned about each animal. Because I had two students (sometimes three) working on each animal, this gave them a chance to take notes on some, but not all, of the projects so they didn't feel too overwhelmed.

On their tables, students opened up their file folders and placed their note cards near them, in case students wanted to do some additional reading ;) They then walked around collecting facts about other animals. The Wilderness Walk was a huge success!

Here's a finished example of one student's Wilderness Walk sheet:

Overall, I loved this simple way to display what they had learned and I definitely think I will be using this File Folder Display again in the future-- it was too easy and the final products were too cute to pass up!

If you are interested in any of the rubrics and the Wilderness Walk sheet I used, I have added it to my Animal Research Report packet that is a FREEBIE on Google Docs.

Have you ever used a File Folder Display for a project? I would love to hear your ideas-- I think there are at least a million other uses :)


  1. Stephanie, I love this post. I did the pop-ups on my kiddos' animal research reports this year, but I stapled their written reports to the top of the construction paper and made the pop-ups at the bottom. The file folders are a good idea, and I love the quotes! I also liked the note card idea. I will definitely keep all of this in mind for next year. Thanks so much for sharing! :o)


  2. LOVE the notecard idea! We're doing our animal research reports right now too, but I just gave them a web to fill out. Will have to try the note cards next year!

    Angela :)
    Hippo Hooray for Second Grade!

  3. What a great project! I need to remember this for next year! Thanks for the freebie!

  4. This is such a great idea, thank for sharing it! And thank you so much for the freebie, I will definitely be using it next year. Can you tell me what programs or website your kiddos use to do their research?

  5. We did something like this....the kids made Wild Animal Family Albums. They had them on display and we all walked around to see the hard work. Only I hadn't thought of such a cute title (or note sheet). I will be calling it the Wilderness Walk this year! Thanks!