For Teachers

Letter to Educators



Why Study Rare Breeds?

ALBC Conservation Priorty List


~ K-2 Overview


~ 3-5 Overview



Farm Visits

Kindergarten Unit: ENGAGE



• The characteristics of organisms. • Similarities and differences of animals.


• Asking questions, making observations.


The unit begins with a great big engage – a field trip to a farm!

Prior to departure, the class brainstorms a KWL chart (see detailed description below), sharing stories of individual experiences of farm animals. Students list some of the things they know about farm animals based direct and indirect experiences, as well as some of the things they would like to learn. The teacher might ask leading questions (Socratic Method) regarding movements, structure, changes over time, and growth. e. g. :

How many legs did it have? Did it have feathers? Did it eat grass? How did it move?

Gather notes on an overhead, or class chart, and categorize responses into characteristics or behaviors. When they have finished this chart, they are ready to depart to the farm to make observations about the animals.

Students are directed to choose one animal in particular to study and watch carefully. They need to be able describe how the animal moved, what it ate, how it interacted with other animals, and what it looked like at different ages (if there are different ages of one species represented).


Field trip preparations in advance (scheduling, admissions fees, permission slips, buses, lunches etc. )

Large sheet of paper and magnets/tape or overhead projector, markers.

Clipboards and pencils for students who want to make sketches or take field notes about their favorite animal. They may want to record information shared with them by the farmer.



1. A Learning Web or a KWL (What I Know, What I Want to Know and What I Learned) chart helps students apply existing knowledge and experience, focus their study, and raise questions they would like to answer. Ask the students to start thinking about things connected to farm animals, including things they already know and things they'd like to learn about. Spend some time bringing up ideas. Ask the students about animals' uses, their characteristics, the foods they eat, and where they live.

2. Write "Farm Animals" in the center of the piece of large paper, or overhead projection (to be transcribed later). Arrange or gradually assemble the ideas into a web diagram form in front of the students. Give each student the opportunity to contribute something to the diagram, and list each new suggestion. Invite the students to contribute concepts and suggestions for placement. Ideas may be moved to another spot or they may be combined with others. Connect related ideas with lines leaving some areas blank. Some space on the web should be left empty for topics the students want to learn about or for topics they will discover later. After the web is finished, spend a few minutes looking it over.

3. Post the web diagram on a bulletin board for the duration of the unit. Information can be added periodically, after activities are completed and during class discussions, and the web can be redrawn as necessary. Arranging the information as a web to connect ideas gives the students the opportunity to see the many areas of study in the unit and to update the diagram as they learn new information. This is a great way to let students see how much they are learning. The KWL chart is designed to be used periodically during the unit, and as a part of the final activity, to demonstrate what has been learned.



1. Depart for the farm. This is a day of great excitement. The time at the farm is meant to be open and exploratory. Keep learning demands to a minimum. The students will gather lots of information for digestion once back in the classroom.

2. Upon arrival at the farm, students are directed to choose their animal to study and watch carefully. They need to be able describe how the animal moved, what it ate, how it interacted with other animals, and what it looked like at different ages (if there are different ages of one species represented).

3. Encourage students to practice moving like the animal. Have them listen carefully to any sounds they hear. If the farmer says it is okay, they can practice these sounds being respectful of others and the animals.

4. Take along a list of leading questions focused on curriculum specific topics (determined by your state) related to:

1) animal behavior (such as movement) 2) similarities and differences (such as structures).

Ask if students notice:

- The number of legs - Whether there are horns - How the ears are shaped - What shelter and protections do the animals have? - Why to animals need shelter and protection? - What do they eat? - How are they like you? - How are you different? - How do they eat? - Do they have top teeth? - Do they have teeth at all? - How do they move around? - Why is their tail shaped like that? - What can they do with that nose/mouth? - Their eye size as compared to the others we've seen? - Where are the eyes located on the face? - Is that a male or a female? - How old do you think they are?

5. Be careful not to turn this session into a Q/A session (or a drilling that makes the joy become drudgery). These questions are meant to scaffold the distracted and support the observant. Use with discretion, only as necessary. There is plenty of time back in the classroom for exploring what they are observing on this first day. It is lots of fun just trying to move and sound like your animal as you watch them.



1. Family-to-School Connection: For homework, ask the students to interview their parents. Ask their parent about their favorite farm animal, and any experiences or family stories they have had on a farm or with farm animals. FamInterview.pdf



For a detailed discussion of the learning web approach consult: An Integrated Language Perspective in the Elementary School, by Christine C. Pappas, Barbara Z. Kiefer, and Linda Laevstik (Longman, 1990).


Navigating the Unit

K - 5 E Summary
K - Engage
K - Explore
K - Explain
K - Expand
K - Evaluate
K - Supplement

Noah's Ark Today is property of the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.
Copyright 2006.

American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, PO Box 477, Pittsboro, NC 27312