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10 Wacky Animals You Probably Don’t Know Exist

Animals are so much fun to learn about! My kids love to hear fun facts about animals. It’s so fun they don’t even realize they are learning.

To celebrate Animal Facts, a popular feature in SIRS Discoverer, here are facts about 10 wacky animals that you probably don’t know exist and that are perfect for student research!

When doing assignments on animals, direct your students to Animal Facts for all the information they need for an elementary-level research project. You’ll find Animal Facts on the front page under Explore Features on SIRS Discoverer.

10 New Animal Fact Pages in SIRS Discoverer!

Kids of all ages love to learn about animals. SIRS Discoverer’s Animal Facts is a great place to start when your students are doing a research project. There are nearly 300 animals to choose from!

Animal Facts via SIRS Discoverer

Have your students explore these 10 newly created Animal Fact pages in SIRS Discoverer, along with a fun graphic organizer that can be used in the classroom.

Each page contains a full profile and description of the animal and includes interesting, fun facts:

Antelope: There are 90 species of antelopes in the Bovidae family.

Baboon: Baboons are found in large groups called troops.

Badger: Badgers are solitary animals and live alone except during mating season.

Collared Peccary: These animals look a lot like pigs but they are not in the same family as pigs.

Gray Whale: Gray whales live in groups called pods.

Marten: Martens are members of the weasel family.

Mole: Moles spend most of their lives underground in burrows and tunnels that they dig.

Proboscis Monkey: Male proboscis monkeys have very large noses on their faces while females have much smaller noses.

Pronghorn: Pronghorns are the only species in the family Antilocapridae.

Sperm Whale: Sperm whales are the largest toothed whales living in the ocean.

Download this animal research graphic organizer to use in your classroom.

When doing assignments on animals, direct your students to Animal Facts for all the information they need for an elementary-level research project.

Don’t have SIRS Discoverer? Free trials are available.

Activities for the 100th Day of School

100th Day of School Collection Poster
by RubyDW is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Depending on which part of the U.S. you live in, your students will celebrate their 100th day of school pretty soon (it usually occurs in January or February each year). Many schools across the country celebrate the 100th day of school. It’s not only a milestone but also a great opportunity for teachers to practice math with their students. This is especially important in preschool and kindergarten, where students are learning their numbers. But it also provides good activities for all elementary-level students.

For example, you may ask your students to bring in “100” of something. It could be a collection of paperclips, or macaroni noodles, or buttons. The possibilities are endless! When my son was in preschool, he brought in a collection of 100 animal fact cards that we collected from National Geographic Little Kids magazines. We laid out all the cards on the floor and I helped him count all the way to 100. We also practiced counting by 10s. This activity is a good way to introduce more numbers.

See these fun activities that you can use in your classroom:

100th Day of School (Starfall)

Have a 100th Day of School Celebration (Scholastic)

100th Day of School Activities (K-5 Math)

Celebrate the 100th day of school!  (ReadWriteThink)

What Is the 100th Day of School? (VeryWell)

Celebrate the 100th Day of School (Education World)

In SIRS Discoverer, we love to find resources that teachers can use in their classrooms. See our activities page and math resources for more ideas. Also, see this cute story from Highlights for Children entitled 100 Things about a girl who is trying to find 100 things to bring in for the 100th day of school celebration.

Are you celebrating the 100th day of school? We want to know about it. Tweet us at #ProQuest or comment below!

SIRS Discoverer: Presidential Election for Kids

presidential election

Image via pixabay [CC0 Public Domain]

As we all know, this year’s presidential election has been highly contentious and at times “not suitable for children.” However, it is important for young students to be aware and involved with the election process. So how should teachers handle what is happening with the election?

Teaching Seventh Graders in a ‘Total Mess’ of an Election Season (New York Times) discusses how 7th-grade teachers are facing the challenges of how to handle election discussions in their classroom.

Teachers Use Nasty Election to Spark Polite Student Debate (AP) showcases how teachers are using the election to encourage critical thinking and research skills and suggests some ideas for your students:

–Analyze a newspaper article on the election and write two to three paragraphs about it.

–Take a 30-minute walk around the neighborhood, tally Clinton and Trump yard signs and write two to three paragraphs about why the student thinks people in the community might support one candidate over the other.

–Interview five people about who they are voting for and write about why they support a particular candidate.

Still need creative ideas for examining the elections is your classroom? Since the articles and images on SIRS Discoverer are hand-picked by editors you will find content that is age-appropriate for your students. Here are some subject searches to get you started:

Clinton, Hillary Rodham

Trump, Donald

Election 2016

Presidential candidates

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

This month, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is celebrated in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The festival began in 1972 and is celebrated during the first weeks of October. Here are some fun facts about the festival.

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
By Eric Ward from Provo, UT, USA [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

* When the event began in 1972, there were just 13 balloons featured in the festival. Now there are over 500 hot air balloons in the festival!

* The event is held for 9 days.

* People from over 20 different countries participate in the event.

* In recent years, over 80,000 people have attended the event.

* Besides the wonderful hot air balloons at the festival, visitors can also enjoy music, food, and other educational activities.

* If you plan in advance, you can book a ride on a hot air balloon during the festival!

Teachers, direct your students to SIRS Discoverer to learn more about this festival and about hot air balloons. Here are some resources to get you started:

Floating Festival

How Stuff Works: How Hot Air Balloons Work

Hot air balloons

Official website of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

100th Anniversary of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was established on August 1, 1916, so this year marks the 100th anniversary of the park! The park is located on Hawaii’s Big Island and includes the two active volcanoes, Kilauea and Mauna Loa.

Halemaʻumaʻu crater

Active vent of the Kilauea Volcano (Public Domain) via Wikimedia Commons

To celebrate the centennial, here are some facts about the park:

  • The park was called Hawaii National Park from 1916 to 1961, then its name changed to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
  • Kilauea Volcano has erupted over 60 times since the 1750s. It has been continuously erupting since Jan. 1983.
  • In Aug. 2016, lava from Kilauea dropped into the ocean creating new land. Since 1983, about 500 acres of new land has been added by lava to the island.
  • Mauna Loa Volcano has erupted over 30 times since the 1840s. Its last eruption was in 1984.
  • The top of Mauna Loa Volcano reaches 13,677 feet above sea level. Kilauea Volcano is 4,091 feet above sea level.
  • The park has about 333,000 acres of land. About half of those acres are forests.
  • Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was the 11th park established in the United States.
  • The park receives over 2.5 million visitors each year!
Pu'u O'o

Lava erupting from Kilauea Volcano (Public Domain) via Wikimedia Commons

Teachers, for more about this national park, direct your students to SIRS Discoverer. Here are some searches to get you started:

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Kilauea Volcano

Mauna Loa

An Anniversary for Zoos

Philadelphia Zoo

Philadelphia Zoo in the 1920s (Public Domain) via Flickr

This month celebrates the anniversary of the first zoo opening in the United States. On July 1, 1874, the Philadelphia Zoo, in Pennsylvania, opened its doors to the public. Over 3,000 people visited on opening day. Now, the Philadelphia Zoo gets over 1 million visitors each year.

Zoos were once just a place to see exotic animals from faraway lands. Now, zoos play an important role in housing endangered animals and breeding them in captivity. They also help bring awareness to issues affecting animals around the world, such as habitat loss.

Here are 5 fun facts about zoos:

  • There are over 400 licensed zoos in the United States, plus hundreds of nature centers.
  • There are more than 100 aquariums in the U.S.
  • There are 10,000 zoos worldwide, according to the American Zoo and Aquarium Association.
  • Schonbrunn Zoo in Vienna, Austria, which opened in 1752, is the oldest zoo in the world.
  • The word “zoo” is short for zoological garden or zoological park. The word “zoology” refers to the scientific study of animals.

Teachers, for more about zoos, direct your students to SIRS Discoverer. Here are some searches to get you started:

Zoos
Zoo animals
Aquariums
Websites about zoos

May Space Milestones

Launch of Space Shuttle Columbia

Launch of Space Shuttle Columbia (Public Domain) via Flickr

There are many space accomplishments that we celebrate each year. Some are remembered more than others, but they are all an important part of exploring other planets in our solar system and the galaxy beyond. Here is a list of space milestones that land during the month of May to share with your students:

May 5, 1961: Astronaut Alan Shepard was launched into space aboard the Freedom 7 capsule, part of the Mercury mission. He became the second person (and the first U.S. astronaut) to enter outer space.

May 24, 1962: Astronaut Scott Carpenter was launched into outer space aboard the Aurora 7 space capsule, part of the Mercury mission. The capsule orbited earth three times.

May 15, 1963: Launch of the Faith 7 spacecraft, which was manned by Gordon Cooper who spent 34 hours in space.

May 18, 1969: Launch of Apollo 10 lunar module which orbited the moon. The module was manned by two astronauts.

May 19 and 28, 1971: Launch of the Mars 2 and Mars 3 Landers by Russia. Mars 2 arrived on Mars in November 1971 but crash-landed on the surface. It was the first object to reach Mars’ surface. Mars 3 arrived on Mars in December of 1971 and transmitted data back to Earth for 20 seconds.

May 30, 1971: An unmanned spacecraft, Mariner 9, was launched and began orbiting Mars in November 1971.

May 14, 1973: Launch of the Skylab station, by a Saturn 5 rocket, which became the first orbiting laboratory in space.

May 25, 1973: A group of three astronauts were launched into space to board the Skylab station orbiting laboratory for testing.

May 20, 1978: Launch of Pioneer Venus I orbiter. It began orbiting Venus in December 1978.

May 4, 1989: Launch of space shuttle Atlantis by NASA to deploy the Magellan spacecraft, which was sent to observe the planet Venus.

May 13, 1992: First time three astronauts space walked simultaneously from the Endeavour space shuttle.

May 26, 2008: Phoenix spacecraft landed on Mars. It analyzed Mars soil and took photos.

May 22, 2012: The SpaceX company launches its first capsule, called Dragon, into space. The capsule delivered food and other supplies to the International Space Station.

Teachers, direct your students to SIRS Discoverer to learn more about outer space exploration.

Celebrate Earth Day on April 22nd

Earth as Seen from Space via Flickr [Public Domain]

Earth as Seen from Space via Flickr [Public Domain]

Earth Day rolls around every year on April 22nd, but why can’t we celebrate Earth Day every day! Small changes can make a big difference, such as picking up trash, never littering, and planting trees. These things and many others help to make our earth a cleaner and better place to live.

Earth Day started 46 years ago, on April 22, 1970. It began as an environmental movement to make world leaders aware of issues such as climate change, pollution, deforestation, endangered animals, and more. With millions of people wanting to help better the environment, “the first Earth Day had led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.

This year, Earth Day Network is promoting the “Trees for the Earth” event. The goal is to plant 7.8 billion trees around the world by the year 2020. That year will represent the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.

Many places around the world celebrate Earth Day each year with festivals, clean-up events, and other types of celebrations. These events help bring awareness of many environmental issues. This year, find a way you can contribute to cleaning up the earth and make every day Earth Day!

Teachers, direct your students to ProQuest SIRS Discoverer to learn more about Earth Day and the environment. Here are some links to get you started on your search:

Earth Day

Environmentalism

Environmental Protection

Book Report Alternatives

Book reports are a very common assignment in elementary school. Usually, the book report will be a form that the students fill out describing the plot, setting, characters, etc. But lately, I’ve noticed my daughter’s 4th-grade teacher has made these assignments more exciting. I previously blogged about the first quarter project called “Book Floats.” But the second and third quarter brought even more exciting projects. One is called a “Story Cube Book Report” and the other is called a “Paper Bag Book Report.”

The Story Cube project was fun. The student either cuts out a template on large poster board paper to make a cube or they find a box and glue paper on each side. My daughter chose the latter. Each side of the cube has something different such as paragraph writing or hand-drawn pictures. And of course, there is an oral presentation in front of the class. Here is an example of instructions for this project that I found online. My daughter chose to do her report on “The Hypnotists” by Gordon Korman.

Images by Jennifer Oms

My Daughter’s Story Cube Project
Image by Jennifer Oms

I thought the Paper Bag project was also a fun idea. The students need to get a paper grocery bag, usually from their local supermarket. Then they need to cover each side with a different aspect of the story such as main idea, main characters, setting, and more. The bottom of the bag is where they rate the story and inside the bag they have to place items that represent the story. She chose “Double Fudge” by Judy Blume this time.

Images by Jennifer Oms

My Daughter’s Paper Bag Project
Image by Jennifer Oms

I think these types of projects help bring out the student’s creative side. They have so much fun making the project that they don’t realize they are writing a book report!

Teachers, a great place to learn about children’s books is in SIRS Discoverer! Here are some subject searches in ProQuest SIRS Discoverer to get you started:

Children’s books

Books and reading

Books

Also find ideas for class projects on the Activities page in Educators’ Resources.