About Us
Our Team
Our Impact
Contact Us
Corporate Programs

Creating a Virtual Zoo: A Cross-Curriculum, Problem Based Learning Project

Page Views: 5624

Email This Lesson Plan to Me
Email Address:
Subscribe to Newsletter?
Log in to rate this plan!
Overall Rating:
(5.0 stars, 1 ratings)

Keywords: Problem Based Learning, Zoo, Science, Animals, Habitats
Subject(s): Technology, Science, English/Language Arts
Grade 1
NETS-S Standard:
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Research and Information Fluency
  • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Technology Operations and Concepts
View Full Text of Standards
School: Pine Lane Primary School, Parker, CO
Planned By: Jessica Craig
Original Author: Jessica Craig, Parker
Link to view my lesson plan online (recommended):


AREA: 1st Grade Science, Technology, & ELA

World Class Outcome: Systems Thinking
Analyze the function of a system and the relationship of parts within a system

World Class Outcomes: Critical Thinking
Evaluate evidence to distinguish relevant and non-relevant information to support a position

(Science) Colorado Academic Standard 2: An organism is a living thing that has physical characteristics to help it survive
a. Identify organisms and use evidence based scientific explanations for classifying them into groups
b. Analyze and interpret data about the needs of plants and animals
c. Use direct observations and other evidence to support ideas concerning physical characteristics that help plants and animals survive

(ELA) Colorado Academic Standard 4:
1. A variety of resources leads to locating information and answering questions of interest
2. Purpose, information, and questions about an issue are essential steps in early research


Build Background Segment (1 week)

-Teacher introduces Problem Based Learning challenge & explores ”Home Sweet Home” Challenge/PBL Site with the students:

explore possible zoo animals through informational texts, websites, and iPad apps, such as Discovery Education, PebbleGo, & Woodland Park Zoo & through Animal QR code activities
- Students select animal for research and fill out Google Form
- Students determine questions and add them to Driving Questions page
- Students create prior-knowledge circle map for selected animal
- Students will analyze text features in reading groups to identify cover, back, title, illustration, caption, labels, and additional nonfiction text features, explaining how those parts help the reader make meaning and how they will help in research.

Students are asked to choose a zoo animal that would not typically be seen in a zoo, but design a habitat/exhibit that would allow it to reside there.

Students work in small groups throughout challenge, choosing an animal, researching, and presenting together.

Scaffolding Segment (4 weeks):

-Students explore biomes/habitats through informational texts and media (see websites, apps, & Habitat QR Code Activities to right).
- Students explore animal classification through informational texts and media (websites, apps, & Animal Classification QR Code Activities to right).
- Students explore animal basic needs through Animal Needs QR code activity.
- Students explore animal characteristics through Animal “Would You Rather” QR code activity
- Students read and respond to Scholastic News/ Weekly Readers of animals and habitats in small group setting
- Students create thinking maps of animals and habitats (Ex. Bubble map with describing words for animal, tree map describing a given habitat).
- Students work with a partner to create a double bubble map that compares your animals.
Science Notebook Entries (For example, write about the animals diet, write about something new that you learned about an animal or habitat this week, etc.).
- Students read various animal articles through Subtext iPad app and respond by creating an interactive comment, question, or poll (see example below).
- Students watch video segments of various habitats in “Amazing Animals” DVD (see Jessica) and add gathered information to collaborative class thinking maps.
- Students se KidPix to draw/design a habitat for your selected animal (see examples below).
- Students analyze how animals’ characteristics allow them to survive in certain habitats through personalized, differentiated Discovery Education Assignments, such as boards & writing prompts

The students will create a board of information of the animal they have chosen for the zoo using the Discovery Education Board Builder tool. Prior to the interim assessment, students should collaborate with the teacher to determine what facts/information are appropriate to include on the board to show student’s knowledge/research so far.

Animal Research Notebook: Students will research animals through use of informational texts and media (websites, apps, & QR codes) & complete a notebook of researched information. The will share their notebook in a small group setting.

Students read informational text on topic in Subtext application, to interact with text and then create and respond to conversation threads.

Students work as a class to create a Discovery Education board.
Subtext can be programmed to read the article to the students, rather than the students reading the article themselves.


Student creates and gives a presentation using Narrable Program/App, explaining the animal they have chosen, facts and information they have collected, and why the animal would be a good candidate for The Colorado Virtual Zoo. For their presentation they may utilize their Animal Research Notebook, KidPix habitat design drawing, various boards they have created through Discovery Education, thinking maps that they have created throughout their learning, Scholastic News or Weekly Reader clippings, Discovery Education Science Techbook Highlights, etc.)

Students are graded using a Summative Performance Assessment Rubric, as well aa the Kid-Friendly Critical Thinking Rubric.

Students explore how to keep an exhibit a certain temperature for the animal
Students explore and compare cost effectiveness of different possible zoo animals (financial literacy)
Students explore possible avenues for obtaining animals for zoo (global awareness)

Students give presentations in groups. Teacher leads students through presentations with guiding questions.

Cross-Curriculum Ideas
This unit connects science and technology with literacy, research, and presentation skills! (see the lesson plan).
Extension ideas included in lesson plan.
Materials: Wacom Tablets, Headsets, Elementary
Other Items: 26 Apple iPad Mini (or any other form of tablet), $299.00 each, total of $7774.00