Squeezing in Science: Animals

Anyone else feel like science and social studies are the first thing to get cut in K-2?

Like the only science you may do in October is a cute TpT printable with a pumpkin slapped on it?

No judgement here.  It happens in my room too.

And more so this year….

This year I’m at a new school with a different schedule.  I have 1 hour–yes, 1 hour–of planning time every day….and, no, I’m not ABOUT to complain about it! 😉  But that is 20 minutes less of instruction time than last year.  Add in a full 30 minute recess again (Thank you, Jesus….) and I have about 30 minutes each day that isn’t in our classroom that has been in years past.

PLUS, 4 days a week, we switch for intervention/extra guided reading groups for AN HOUR!

So, I’m slim to none on time for direct content this year.   And that makes my heart sad because I love teaching content to littles and the firsties *l*o*v*e* science and social studies.  Sure, I’m able to integrate some non-fiction read alouds that tie into our units and write about the topics we learn about, but it’s always nice to have a few days of direct content teaching.  So, I was determined to find a way to squeeze in some science this year even with the little time I had in my classroom…

My compromise has been not teaching as much…and teaching in 10-15 minute windows of time…during our “snack” time.  While kids eat their snack each day, we do a little bit of content.  Also, on Mondays when we don’t have an hour long intervention time, I have a larger block of time to do some longer science activities.

Right now we are in the middle of our Animals unit so my weekly schedule looks like this…

Mondays (30 minute block because we don’t have intervention):

We start the week by introducing the animal group we will be learning about for that week by doing a close reading on a passage about the animal.  Ideally, this is not what I would do first…but since this activity takes longer and Mondays are the days I have more time, this is what I’m doing first this year.

{Also, when we start doing the human body after break…I will be able to use my Monday time for our hands-on-projects since I will have a little more time!}

Here’s a close read of muscles from last year’s human body study… {Read a detailed blog about my close reading procedures here.}

We began our unit talking about listening for specific details–called key details–in a text.  We discussed what specific information would be important to know about each group of animals {this information was determined by my Arkansas State Science Frameworks for animal classification}.

This really helps focus our research and conversation.

As we find key details in our close read we chart our facts.  This chart will be added to throughout the week…

Tuesdays (10-15 minute block during snack time):

We review information we charted from the previous day and watch part of an Animal Atlas video on our animal group.  The Animal Atlas videos are about 20 minutes long so we usually watch one part during snack and the rest of it after we clean up in the afternoon instead of a read aloud or class meeting.  Other weeks, I have a really good book I want to read so I just do a read aloud on one of these days.  And another great source on animals is Pebble Go.

No matter what text we use or what source we use to get our information, we are still listening for key details and charting those using anchor chart templates from my Animals Unit Packet.  We also chart other interesting details–we call focus facts–as well.

Wednesdays (10-15 minute block during snack time):

Again, we review our research and learning we’ve charted all week and then we have Wonder Wednesdays and work on writing a question we are wondering about our animal group.  To filter the questions down to an amount that’s doable, I have each group talk together and agree upon one question to write.  They write their question on a sticky note and then bring it to me to read and add to our chart.

{{{Side Note: I get this question every year. Every. Stinkin’. Year.  Still trying to rack my brain as to why this didn’t get asked for the first time in 10 years… :)}}}

If we have time, we start researching and answering questions….if not, we wait until later in the week.


Thursdays are my crazy days.  You know, the one where I have an extra 30 minute activity/planning time and an additional P.E. time to satisfy our physical activity laws…

So, yeah, content doesn’t usually happen on this day. #realtalk

HOWEVER, we do usually start writing about our animal group on Thursdays.  Sometimes we are ready to start on Wednesdays, and sometimes it’s Thursdays.  It just depends on our week.  Here’s a past blog on how I do informative writing on animals.

Fridays (10-15 minute block during snack time):

We spend Fridays researching our questions and recording our answers during snack time.  The kids absolutely love this and learn quickly that sometimes answering questions just leads to more questions to ask!

Plus, it’s a great opportunity to talk about sources of information on the internet and how to find a trusted source.

So, yes, I’m teaching less direct content this year….but I’m doing what I can because it’s what keeps first graders engaged!  And the great thing about science and social studies in the younger grades is that so much of it is literacy based.  When we are learning to read and write non-fiction, why not just use non-fiction texts on a theme {animals} to drive that learning?  That’s the easiest time saver I’ve found to teach literacy skills and content all at the same time!

How do you find time to squeeze in science and social studies?

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