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Animals do the talking while students learn, create and teach

student holding book and reading to other students at a table

Dr. Dolittle may have talked to the animals, but at Harry Hoag Elementary on Jan. 26, 2022, the animals talked to the second graders, thanks to their older schoolmates.

Students in Jade VanGorder’s fourth grade class researched, wrote and illustrated books about the life cycle of animals as part of an integrated English/language arts and science project. Each story was told from the vantage point of the animal, be it a panther, fox, tiger or other creature great or small. The students then read their books to second grade classes.

“In addition to what they learned during our study of animals during science class, the students conducted their own research to gather information about the life cycle of their chosen animal from various sources,” VanGorder said.

“Then, they had to tell their life story from that animal’s point of view. I encouraged the children to use lots of details, giving their readers a vivid description of each stage. The students illustrated pictures along the way to enhance their stories even more.

“The fourth graders were so excited and so proud to complete their books and read them to the second grade classes.”

The project was a hit with all. VanGorder shared a few of her students’ comments after they read to the second graders:

“This was soooo much fun.”

“It was really cool, because I got to talk about black panthers and answer lots of questions.”

“The group of second graders LOVED it because they were asking lots of questions!”

“I really liked reading to them because they loved my fun facts section.”

Writing and sharing books isn’t limited to Harry Hoag’s fourth grade students. Kindergartners recently hosted sixth graders for an author celebration event, where the younger learners shared their written pieces with the older students, then toasted their work with fruit juice. Elementary Principal Lauren Crisman noted, “It is great to see more author celebrations at Harry Hoag!”


2 students at smart board with their book on it

A student's book cover, held by them

students and teacher toasting with fruit juice boxes