Scottsburg Elementary School teachers took a typical field trip to the
zoo and turned it into an experience that students will likely not
Using the backdrop of the annual first-grade field trip to
the Louisville Zoo, teachers Kala Cudjoe and Amy Hubbard discovered a
way to meet their science standards and keep their students’ interest at
the same time. As she was planning the annual trip, Cudjoe noticed a
new animal adoption program the zoo offered. From there, Cudjoe and
Hubbard planned a project that included their students adopting animals,
fundraising, using technology, creating a book, and building a habitat
for the animals they adopted.
“We wanted to do this because it fit
perfectly with our science standards. First-graders have made habitat
dioramas for the last few years, but this project gave them a real
purpose and an authentic audience. They had to learn and work in order
to help the Louisville Zoo. The students were thoroughly engaged the
entire time,” Cudjoe said.
“This was a great opportunity for
students to be introduced to researching, use technology to create a
book, and create a project of their choice by making a poster, diorama,
picture collage, or build a habitat in Toca Builders to present what
they learned,” Hubbard added.
By visiting the zoo and doing a
little research, the first-grade students were able to learn firsthand
about animals they might want to adopt. Cudjoe said her class even
exchanged a few emails with a Louisville Zoo animal expert about the
animals and adoption process. The classes received a formal letter
asking the students to adopt an animal and build a habitat for the
animal from the zoo.
“As a class, we voted on what animals to
adopt. My class adopted a grizzly bear and a zebra. Mrs. Cudjoe’s class
and my class together adopted an anaconda,” Hubbard said.
Cudjoe’s class adopted a meerkat and a polar bear. Some students wanted
to learn about dolphins, so we allowed a few students to research the
dolphin even though we were not able to adopt one from the Louisville
Zoo,” Cudjoe said. “The biggest challenge was deciding what animals we
were going to adopt. Each class opened up a Canvas discussion to allow
the students to share their thoughts. We ended up tallying up the
After the adoption animals were selected, the
students collected photographs and research information to create their
books using an app called Book Creator. The books were later printed off
to display in the first-grade hallway, so other students could learn
about the animals after the project was completed. The students also
created a poster, diorama, or a picture collage in an app. Some students
used an app, Toca Builders, to build a habitat. Toca Builders is an app
that is similar to Minecraft, where the users build anything their
imagination allows, brick by brick.
“We then displayed our
finished projects in the hallway for others to critique and learn from,
so they had an authentic audience,” Hubbard said.
height of the project, the classes hosted a Word-a-thon to raise money
to donate toward their animal adoptions. Parents and guardians pledged
money for every sight word their student could read. The amount could be
from one penny to 50 cents per word. The classes also asked the
community for pledges and invited parents and adults to join the
students for the Word-a-thon.
“We played music, had snacks, and
danced in-between sets of words. We even had balloon animals,” Cudjoe
said. “Thirty-six students and 18 adults participated in the
Word-a-thon. Combined the students read over 3,200 words.”
The students raised more than $400 during the Word-a-thon for the animals they adopted.
money went to the Animals Depend On People To Survive program at the
zoo,” Hubbard said. “The money is used to help feed and care for the
animals. The Louisville Zoo is a not-for-profit zoo, and many of the
animals at the zoo are rescued from poor conditions.”
each animal, the Louisville Zoo sent the classes a stuffed animal that
resembles the adopted animal, a pin with a picture of the animal, and a
“There were many benefits to completing this project:
we raised money for a good cause, learned about different types of
habitats, how to research and write an informational piece, worked with
others, explored technology, and challenged ourselves,” Hubbard said.
“The only challenge was that we couldn’t adopt every animal! The
students were so proud and excited that they wished they could help
support the zoo even more!”
By taking an annual field trip and
turning it into a meaningful, impactful project is what sets Scott 2
apart from other schools. At Scott County School District 2, the
first-grade class’ story is our story. Your story matters. You matter.