Tag Archive: National Geographic Kids


My 2nd graders just finished reading Hang On, Monkey and Hop, Bunny from National Geographic Kids.  Both of the stories are very similar but one talks about a journey through the woods/forest and one talks about a journey through the rain forest.  The kids loved the vibrant and silly pictures of the animals.  These books have a lot of rich vocabulary that was nice for us to get some practice on those blends and digraphs we really need.

After we read both of the books they were given graphic organizers to compare the two stories.  I normally use a Venn Diagram, but I found a new graphic organizer that I had that was more of a list format and branched off.  It’s designed specifically to compare two stories so I think it’s almost easier for the kids to compare on this graphic organizer versus a Venn Diagram.   They’ve been asked to be adding more details to their writing to make it more thorough and detailed along with quick decoding during reading.


IMG_0069My 3rd graders just wrapped up a couple of weeks on volcanoes!  I started out by reading them The Magic School Bus: Volcanoes and Earthquakes. From there I brought in vinegar and baking soda where the kids were able to make a mini volcanic explosion in the classroom.  Let’s face it, I would have loved to have made a big mess, but it was a tablespoon of vinegar and a tablespoon of baking soda.  Don’t worry–it still got plenty of “whoa’s”, “ooooo’s” and “ahhhh’s”.

The students then read National Geographic Kids: Volcanoes and read about the different kinds of volcanoes, the difference between lava and magma, what happens when lava cools quickly or slowly, and the different kinds of lava.  On note cards they had to write about geysers, cinder cone volcanoes, stratovolcanoes, shield volcanoes, and calderas.  They each then made their own diagram of one of the volcanoes they wrote about.

Each day they asked if they could make another volcanic explosion.  They were disappointed I wasn’t THAT cool to do daily explosions!

IMG_0359My 3rd graders continue their quest of studying rocks and minerals.  We started reading Rocks and Minerals from National Geographic Kids (LOVE this book, by the way!) and read the first half of the book.  The first half goes over how rocks are made (the “rock cycle”) and goes into more depth on minerals, igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks.

IMG_0357After the kids finished the first half of the book (“20 pages, Ms. Acuff!!!?!?! How are we going to get through all of that?!?!?!) We did some analysis on a box of rocks I have.  They had to decide if the rock was a mineral, igneous, sedimentary, or a metamorphic rock based on the information they had from their book and by looking at the rock.

Next we’ll continue by writing about the different kinds of rocks and analyzing more rocks.  They are looking forward to being able to crack open their own geode and writing about it.

2nd grade: Mother Sea Turtle

IMG_5838My 2nd graders recently read Mother Sea Turtle which talks about the journey a sea turtle goes from hatching, growing up, and returning to lay eggs.  I read to the students about sea turtle migration and the life cycle of a sea turtle and the process of laying an egg…again National Geographic Kids makes it so easy with their amazing non-fiction books about Sea Turtles and Animal Migration.

The kiddos were so sad that mother sea turtle doesn’t take care of her little hatchlings.  They have to fend for themselves and many of them don’t survive, but instinctively they all return to the same beach they were born to lay their eggs.

After we read all of our stories, the kids took the mentor text books I read and their Mother Sea Turtle book and mapped out the life cycle of the sea turtle or the process of laying/hatching an egg.  They did such a fantastic job of sorting out the information and putting it in a step by step life cycle model.



IMG_0304One of my group of 2nd graders has been learning about dinosaurs and the process paleontologists go through in locating and extracting dinosaur bones.  As I’ve learned with this group, their questions and curiosity often lead us in IMG_0301a direction I wasn’t really expecting, but always takes us to a place of great learning.

This group was particularly interested in the locating of dinosaur bones more so than dinosaurs.  I read a mentor text initially (National Geographic Kids’ Dinosaurs–you know how I love those books) and the direction of the rest of the lesson went in the opposite direction of what I had planned.  We still continued on with the book All About Dinosaurs, which I planned for, but then we went into research mode.

We learned there is a more lengthy process to extracting dinosaur bones than we thought, including me.  We made IMG_1623this into an anchor chart.

  1. Prospecting–looking around for a possible dig site.  (This may include waiting a lengthy time to get permits to dig.  The paleontologist we researched about had to wait a year to get the proper permits.  Wow!)
  2. Quarrying–digging around the fossil to expose it.
  3. Vinacing–putting plastic onto the bone to stabilize it.  (None of us knew this happened!)
  4. Mapping–mapping, logging, documenting the area.
  5. Jacketing–wrapping and protecting the bone in plaster. (This was new for us, too!)
  6. Extracting–moving the bone to a new place to be transported to a museum/research area.

The kids were having a difficult time grasping the concept of how they know where to find dinosaur bones, which paleontologists don’t really know.  They can take a good guess and go off of where other bones have been located, but there’s no real way of knowing.  To make this concept a little more concrete I baked a pan of brownies (real brownies this time–they asked!) and put in different candies varying from twizzlers, tootsie rolls, nerds, mini oreos, etc. in various sizes just like would happen with a dinosaur bone.  I brought in the brownies and showed them the pan.  I asked them where the “bones” where.  They all shrugged their shoulders at me.  I had them draw a “map” of the brownies, which IMG_0302was just a rectangle.  I divided the pan into equal parts and gave them all a large portion of brownie.  From there, 2nd graders had to follow the steps paleontologists follow in locating bones.  They had to carefully expose “bones” and then map out in their writing journals where they found items.  And, of course, after all the scientific research had been completed, brownies were consumed.  This was a fun process and lots of giggles as new “bones” were discovered from each child.

Students then wrote about the step-by-step process they had to go through while extracting their “bones” during the brownie activity.  We had a great time learning and researching with each other–and I learned just as much as the kiddos did.


IMG_0281If you are a follower of my blog then you probably read about my 3rd graders reading National Geographic Kids Rocks and Minerals last semester.  It was a big hit with my 3rd graders and thought I could use it with my 2nd graders.  I had mapped IMG_1294out what I wanted to do with them and had planned to do a lot of the same stuff, but one of the things I realize the longer I teach is how much teaching evolves as you do something and how the interests and questions of the kids somewhat guides the way you teach.

We started out with an indepth study on where we find rocks and then the differences between Igneous, Sedimentary, and Metamorphic rocks along with the rock cycle and minerals.  The more we read the more students were asking about different rocks, minerals, and gemstones.  They were so curious about the difference among rocks.

The thing I have really noticed about this set of five 2nd graders, which I truly appreciate, is how hands-on they are and how curious they are.  I am constantly taking notes of questions they have that arent answered in our readings that I have to research and bring back to them or that we research together.  So with all these questions I thought it was necessary that we research about the different types of rocks and then do an indepth analysis and categorization of different rocks/minerals/gemstones.

IMG_0274I ordered a pack of 20 rocks/gemstones from Amazon and once they arrived students were given one rock at a time to analyze, categorize, and write about.  They were given 2 minutes to study the rock before then needing to write about it.  Although they didn’t get a chance to write about all 20 rocks in the box due to time, they were able to write about several of them.

After they had analyzed and written about their rocks they were able to discuss what they had noticed with another group member.  The chattering about rocks was so focused that I had a hard time getting them to STOP talking about rocks.

I was even impressed when on day 2 of rock analysis one of the 2nd graders brought in her own rocks she found outside and wanted everyone in the group to take one and analyze it for themself.  IMG_0275Wow!

Since the kids were so enthusiastic about studying different rocks I ordered some geodes online as well and thought it would be fun for students to crack their own geodes and be able to study and write about those as well and then be able to take them home.

Today we were able to take the rocks outside and hammer away at some geodes.  We had one particular geode that we had a difficult time cracking open.  After several attempts there were lots of cheers when it finally cracked open.  We cracked open 2 geodes (picture at the top) and the comments I kept hearing were 1. I wasn’t expecting them to be ugly on the outside, but pretty on the inside, and 2. I had no idea they were going to be sparkly and have so many different colors.

IMG_0279Students were able to discuss their findings with a group member before selcting a geode piece to take home with them.  One of the students noticed that the geode left marks on the cement which turned into a coversation about how the cement was made out of rocks and how the geode was less hard which allowed the cement to scratch it.  This was based off our learning that diamonds are the hardest rock and can scratch steel.  I have really enjoyed these last couple of weeks as we’ve been researching, writing, reading, and exploring the world around us.