Through two lesson plans, students will learn to use telling details to describe an animal. They then will take notes while watching zoo web cams to help them write descriptions of what they observed.

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These classroom activities provide a great introduction to the practice of keeping a nature journal,

This 16-page booklet contains two lesson plans in which students exercise observation skills essential to writing, visual art, and science. First, they try to use evocative language in describing pictures of birds from the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. They go on to record observations and to make hypotheses as they follow the behavior of animals on the National Zoo’s live webcams. These might include elephants, naked mole rats, pandas, lions, and others as they are available. They’ll look at a scientist’s field journal and discuss what a journal is. They’ll also learn some tips from scientists about field journaling.

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