Animal Classification Game

Submitted by Jan Adams, Winston-Salem Forsyth Schools

Whether your study of animals leads to non-fiction reports and research projects or creative writing and fables, all will be enriched by a factual understanding of animals and their characteristics. This game is a great way to introduce animal characteristics, build knowledge, transfer that knowledge to a pencil and paper mode and assess in a fun and active way.

Theme: Animals - Fact and Fiction

Connections: Communication Skills, Math, Science, Dance

Essential Questions:

  • How are animals alike and how are they different?

  • What vocabulary do scientists use to describe animals?

  • How many different ways can we show what we know about animals?


  • Do a movement warm-up, exploring the movement of a variety of animals.**

  • Create on blackboard, with students, lists of ways animals are classified. Fill board with information.*

  • Choose a child to play "Animal Charades," but instead of guessing the animal, they may only guess a characteristic of that animal.**

  • Next day, have children help you reconstruct the information on the board. Repeat this game several days, extending lists on board.*

  • After playing the game several times, introduce the ideas that a behavioral scientist is a person who studies animals, by quietly observing them and collecting data. Ask children to get out pencil and paper and to help reconstruct the board. This time, instead of guessing aloud, they will record their data on their paper. By now, the information on the board should be more and more familiar.*

  • After playing this version for a day or so, let the children separate into partners. One will be the animal, another the scientist, all moving and observing simultaneously.**

  • When playing this version, after data has been collected, read one student�s observations and ask the rest of the class to guess what animal this scientist might have been observing with the data.**

This game is a great way to lead into any non-fictional or fictional writing about animals.

*Traditional Assessment Opportunities
**A+ Enriched Assessments


Bringing Reports to Life: Writing and Staging Documentaries

Submitted by Jan Adams, Winston-Salem/Forsyth Schools

Dance, movement, and creative dramatics can be the means to bring to life non- fiction reports, particularly those in science and social studies. This process requires students to visualize what they are writing, and thus connects them to their writing in a more profound way. This process also provides great opportunities to turn curriculum-related material into presentable programs for stage or video. This process fulfills many goals from the Standard Course of Study, including:

  • Science: the accumulation and interpretation of data

  • Social Studies: the analysis of geographic features

  • Science: the study of the interrelatedness of ecostructures

- and the list goes on and on!


  1. Introduce the idea that the body can express a huge variety of living and nonliving things. Offer practice by having kids create, with their bodies: an ocean wave, water in a whirlpool, a kite in the air, a burning piece of paper, an ice cube in a pot on the stove, modes of transportation, etc.

  2. Ask them to describe, either in oral or written form what is happening.

  3. Move to more complex ideas, with partner or small group, such as: a simple machine such as a pulley or wheel and axle, magnets, a mountain being eroded by wind, a volcano, a turbine, an assembly line, etc.

    (These ideas can be interpreted in movement or in statues or tableaux. By incorporating music and a variety of presentation modes, interest can be maintained).

  4. Hold them factually accountable. If they don't know what occurs in a volcano, they must research or review before they can interpret.

  5. Ask them to write a script ( a paragraph of text which will accompany their movement, as if they are directing a movie).

  6. Interpret through movement or statues even bigger themes or ideas: the Civil War, the three branches of government, pollution and its effect on people, etc.

  7. Jigsaw a project into groups with related sub-topics. Each group would discuss, research and write a script for a different aspect of the topic. Examples:


    • Its geography

    • The coral reef

    • The animals that inhabit it

    • The people, Aboriginal and European and other descendents

    -The Industrial Revolution

    • Life in an unindustrialized world

    • Simple and compound machines

    • Mass production through assembly line\variety of inventions that changed life

    -North Carolina

    • A specific geographical region (i.e. the coastline, formation, erosion, tidal effects)

    • Its people, lifestyles, occupations, social movement

    • Animal and plant environment, create a food web or chain

    • Its symbols or perceptions

  8. Once each group has begun researching and exploring ideas, decide all together what the order of presentation will be. Might one group have a divided presentation? Might any of the groups overlap? "Choreograph" the flow from group to group so you will minimize the start/stop effect and will tie the whole presentation together.


  • I often offer music as the defining aspect of a group, both in time and in atmosphere created

  • Impose time limitations (i.e. "your part of the presentation will last no more than two minutes.")

  • Discuss a variety of presentation modes: pantomime, status of tableaux, free movement, unison or cannon movement, etc.


Fables - Move Them, Write Them, Asses Them!

Submitted by Jan Adams, Winston-Salem/Forsyth Schools

This move it, write it, revise it/edit it, perform it, evaluate if format creates a continuous flow of engagement, comprehension, and response that leads to high participation and high quality.

Theme: Animals, fact and fiction

Connections: Communication Skills (Writing), Dance, Theatre Arts, Science

Essential Questions:

  • What distinguishes fables from other forms of literature?

  • Why are fables important?

  • Might you find similar fables from one culture to another? Why?

Process: This is an up, down, up, down approach that is very effective in keeping children engaged while providing some valuable active brainstorming.

  • Discuss the elements of a fable.*

  • Explore, through movement, a variety of habitats, then animals who live there.**

  • Choose a moral.*

  • Decide what animal would most likely be your main character.*

  • While some move like that character, observe and build a bank of words that describe that animal�s characteristics and movements.**

  • Choose secondary animals that share that same habitat.*

  • Discuss a problem that might lead to this moral.*

  • Write together your leading sentence, making sure setting and main character are introduced.*

  • Sketch out story and write your first draft.*

  • While someone reads the story, let children enact it, everyone playing all parts and thinking what revisions might need to occur.**

  • Sit down and discuss revisions. Circle words that are repetitive or not colorful enough. Refer to your word bank and enrich the vocabulary. Proceed to your final edit.**

  • Using the story as a script, create a storyboard for still photos or enactment.**

  • Perform**

  • Discuss the process and the essential questions. Assess your writing and performance.**

*Traditional assessment opportunities
**A+ enriched assessments


Ancient Egypt Interdisciplinary Unit

Submitted by Tammy Hunt, Catawba County Schools

Language Arts: Read The Egypt Game or The Golden Goblet

Science: Study Body Systems and mummification, weather and the Nile and Simple Machines

Mathematics: Hieroglyphic numbers, geometry and pyramid building

Social Studies: Ancient Egyptian society and history

Art: Hieroglyphs, Cartouche design, 2-dimensional drawing, jewelry making, Obelisk design, Papier-mache containers

Drama: Ancient Egyptian society, playwriting, costume design (students write their own plays about Ancient Egypt)

Dance: 2-dimensional movement, Ancient Egyptian society, gesture abstraction, AB form, straight/angular shapes (students create dances using Egyptian art and information about Egyptian society) (See "Dance Like an Egyptian" following this outline)

Computers/Keyboarding: typing/correcting passages on Ancient Egypt

Health: mummification and body systems, health practices of the Ancient Egyptians

Chorus/Music: Ancient Egyptian songs

P.E.: Ancient Egyptian games, pyramid races

French/Spanish: Ancient Egyptian vocabulary


Submitted by Tammy Hunt, Catawba County Schools

Lesson 1: Students learn a 2-dimensional or "flat" warm-up.

Lesson 2: Students will improvise flat shapes and how to make them locomote on a straight or diagonal pathway. In groups, they will create part A by choosing 4 Egyptian shapes from a handout and putting together shapes and transitions. They must include at least one locomotor movement. The movements must also be 2-dimensional. The shapes, of course, will be straight/angular shapes.

Lesson 3: Students will discuss the five segments of Egyptian society (Gods, Nobles, Priests, Scribes, Craft workers and peasants). Using a tree map, students will brainstorm movements that would typically be done by each group. Then, students will create part B of their dance by putting together five movements from their chosen tier. This part does not have to be flat, but it must have an Egyptian mood.

Lesson 4: Students will make the dance an ABA composition by repeating A but making it 3-dimensional.

Lesson 5: Performance

After performing these dances, I tie these dances into the work of Martha Graham. The idea for this project came from Louis Horst's Modern Dance Forms. IN this book, Graham technique is explored through her use of 2-dimensional movement. I like to show a Graham work and allow students to look for her use of "flat" dance.


Native American Interdisciplinary Unit

Submitted by Tammy Hunt, Catawba County Schools

The following outlines an interdisciplinary unit planned and used in the middle school where I teach. This outline may be used as a springboard for ideas for other teachers wishing to plan an integrated unit of study.

Language Arts: Read Native American legends
Have students write their own Native American legends

Math: Use Trail of Tears for distance word problems
Study geometric patterns using native bead designs and art
Use native patterns to create tessellations

Science: Man's effect on the environment
Animals and their habitats
Use the book Keepers of the Earth by Joseph Bruchac

Social Studies: Study local tribes and U.S. tribes
Study Native American gods and mythology

Music: Native American music

Dance: Authentic native dances, ceremonies (recreate the corn ceremony of the Pawnee found in 4th grade music book), animal movement

Health: environmental health, ancient herbal remedies

P.E.: Lacrosse, Native American games

Drama: storytelling with legends, pantomime with legends

Art: weaving, pottery, masks, stylized design

Spanish: tribes of the Southwest and Central and South America, Spanish words with native origins

Computers: Internet on tribes, word processing using articles about Native Americans


Integrated Performance: French, Orchestra, Dance

Submitted by Nancy Clark, Ed Moon, and Patricia Pleasants, Wake County Public Schools

To integrate three disciplines in order to meet the various learning styles of our students and encourage cooperative effort.

Alignment with NC Standard Course of Study and Grade Level Competencies, K-12:

Goal 3: The learner will understand that dance can create and communicate meaning.

Goal 5: The learner will demonstrate and understand dance in various cultures and historical periods.

Goal 7: The learner will make connections between dance and other content areas.

Goal 1: The learner will sing, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.

Goal 2: The learner will play on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.

Goal 8: The learner will understand relationships between music, the other arts, and content areas outside the arts.

Goal 9: The learner will understand music in relation to history and culture.

Description of Activity:
(Written by Nancy Clark, French Language Teacher)

When one of my French students told me that he was learning to play a French song in orchestra I asked him to play it for me. I recognized it as Au Clair de la Lune and immediately thought, "This is an opportunity for integration." I spoke with the orchestra teacher about the possibility of accompanying my French students on several numbers for Une Soiree Francaise (A French Evening). The collaborative effort was expanded when I asked the dance teacher to have some of her students demonstrate ballet terms and then dance while the orchestra played and my students sang.

After a brain-storming session we each set about teaching our students the songs, terms, and dance. When the students were ready, we met briefly to work out the logistics of when and where to gather all students for practice. We decided to meet before classes began, and communicated the days and times of the rehearsals with the classroom teachers and parents. One might think it would take a lot of extra time to organize such an activity; however, we found that it took very little extra effort, and the end result was much more effective than if each group had performed individually.

This performance showcased the skills and talents of approximately 80 students. They benefited in several areas. First of all, students and teachers faced the challenges of coordinating tempo and sharing limited stage space. For some, it was the first time they had performed for the public in the evening and for fellow students and teachers the next day at school. In fact several students who told me they were too nervous to perform found strength in numbers and overcame their fears.

Some of the French students were also in the orchestra, and although they played their instrument during the performance instead of singing, they at least knew the words and story to the music they were playing. Some French students also participated in the dance. Others put their foreign language skills into practice through speaking and singing.

All students gained self-confidence through the pride they felt for having worked hard to cooperate with teachers and each other. We teachers learned the benefits of providing such an opportunity for our students and look forward to our next performance.

Powell Elementary Magnet School for the Visual and Performing Arts
Raleigh, NC


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