Almost 10 years ago I started researching the different states here in the United States to see what made each one different as we were studying them. I was amused to discover every state had a state animal, and we started studying the animals. This led to the need for a quick and easy way to document these animals. Thus was born our animal report mini-books which were originally used for geography lessons, but really they were science lessons with a geography flair.
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What you’ll need for an animal report minibook
the animal report mini-book printable (obviously, it’s going behind the subscriber wall in 2 weeks), markers, and an animal to study, for the level of information you’re going to be using you can use Enchanted Learning, way back when I was a public school teacher it was my favorite website ever
How we used the animal report minibook in the past
Way back when my kids were super little, we would check a book out from the library on whatever animal it was, say the nine-banded armadillo, the state animal of Texas, and we’d read about it. Or the example above of the Wisconsin state animal.
Then I would search up pictures of all the relevant information and I’d print them out, you can see them on many of my early United States Geography printables (for example Wisconsin).
It didn’t take me long to figure out, the kids weren’t really learning because to them it was just a matter of cut and paste and that was it. They’d look at them, but they weren’t processing the information as well.
How I would use the animal report minibooks now
Now, I would have the kids draw the information into their animal report minibook. If they can write, I would have them write the information in the minibook and then draw pictures to go with it.
I’ve found with my kids they remember material better if they have to physically write it out or draw it out rather than cut and glue.
If you have older kids working with younger kids, they could work together to search for the pictures and print them (and then back to the cut and glue). It’s all about how much work is involved in putting it together.
Tips for using the animal report mini-books
As you may have noticed, when you print it, there are two mini-books. This is great if you have multiple kids because it doesn’t waste a lot of paper. If you are only using the mini-books with one kid, assemble the second and save it for another day (I have an odd number of kids, so I did this all the time.).
Invest in a good paper cutter. I love my Fiskars paper cutter. I first cut all of the lines that are in common, basically cutting the columns apart. then I stack up the identical pages and cut it all at once. I’ve found for my kids this cuts down on complaints and lets them get to the actual learning.
Get a nice solid stapler. Cheap staplers jam up more often and you waste more time fixing the stapler than you do working on your mini-books.
Find some good glue to put the pieces in your lapbooks (or notebooks). I’ve heard painting school glue on works better than glue sticks. I personally like to use rubber cement, I did a lot of work with the kids early on about responsible use of REAL craft supplies.