She’s Back… and With An Idea!

As promised, here is a unit that I created for our second grade classrooms a few years ago.  Hopefully you can take this idea and run with it… Giraffe_at_desk__medium1

Giraffes—ok, so I am personally a big fan of this unique animal.  At the time, I was teaching in


and I came across a program to Adopt an Animal’ at the Houston Zoo – can’t you just see the light bulb going off in my head!  For only $25, our school received a kit containing an adoption certificate, a photograph, a personalized Thank You letter, a fact sheet and magnet, and updates on our adopted giraffe.  You can only imagine how excited our students were about this adoption (many had never even been to the zoo) –BIG HIT!

As the technology/science specialist, I would meet with the classrooms twice a week to work on our unit.  The best part is that our lessons covered various subjects and standards.  Some of the lessons we implemented (see attached documents for more ideas):

·        Measuring and graphing our heights as compared to a giraffe

·        Exploring the natural habitat of a giraffe and then recreating the habitat with a cardboard box (our 3D Serengeti)

·        Investigating the life cycle of a giraffe

·        Researching giraffes using unitedstreaming articles, videos, and images to be included in our final PowerPoint presentations

Quiz Builder and Assignment Builder were not yet launched when I was teaching, but these tools are a great way to assess your students!  I think it is so convenient that you can print the quizzes you’ve created; this is especially handy if you have to share one computer lab with other classrooms.   

See—you can take the most far-fetched idea and make it a reality in your classroom!  The best part is that there are so many ways to modify this unit:

·        Space (adopt a star)

·        Olympics (at the end of the unit, have your students represent a country and take part in the Olympics)

·        Plants (bring in a botanist—many local nurseries/research labs will do this for no charge)

·        Explore the nationalities represented in your classroom (Show & Tell of artifacts and information found on unitedstreaming, use Google Earth to measure the distance between your school and another country, or even better—take part in a community of online collaborative classrooms/cross-cultural exchanges, such as

·        And so on…

Who knew that teaching could be so creative and memorable for YOU and your students?  Bonus… your curriculum standards are integrated in the lessons (how clever of you)!


Monika Davis, Discovery Education

Download giraffe_adoption_lessons.doc

Download giraffe_adventure_worksheet.doc 


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  1. Al said:

    Love that idea. I did the same thing a few years back when I was teaching upper-el. resource room. We adopted a manatee. The kids really got into it and were vested in all the activities we incorporated. I wish we would have had Unitedstreaming back then!!!!

  2. Kristin Furdak Smart said:

    As a wedding present, we received a pig. Actually, a family in Southeast Asia received the pig as a donation from us. If I were still in the classroom, I would share the pig with my kids. We would talk about how families in Southeast Asia are similar/different to those in the States and what part a pig may play. There are several amazing videos in the unitedstreaming collection that teach students about different cultures and countries.

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