Friday, 26 January 2018

SNOW Much Fun at the Zoo!

Boy, were we thrilled to spend one more day learning at Zoo School! Despite the deep snow and chilly weather, it  was "SNOW" much fun!

When we arrived, Teacher Courtney tasked us with a very important job ... making animal enrichments! At times, animals can become a bit bored, just like us. An enrichment is something that is novel for the animal! 

We made snowballs for several of the animals to enjoy! 

The tortoise was by far the biggest fan, munching away on the snow! The meerkats and rats were also interested in the chilly fun!

Today we also met two beautiful animals. 

We met Twilah, the Three-Banded Armadillo! She is a little nocturnal beauty who can curl completely into a ball! Mrs. Beliveau LOVED her!!!

We also met 4 year-old Chutter, a Burrowing owl! She is native to Alberta and she is full sized. Burrowing owls live in tunnels underground. Her hooked beak and talons tell us she is a carnivore. She is a tiny sweetheart and we had so many questions to ask!

Zoo School was truly amazing, and we came home absolutely exhausted every day! Yes, all of the walking was tiring and we also got a tonne of fresh air, but a huge part of WHY we were so tuckered was because of HOW we learned. 

Each day we asked questions, and then puzzled over the answers! We wondered, we were curious, we thought critically, we predicted, and we hypothesized. Inquiry drove our week! 

As we prepare to return to our classroom, we are so thankful for the opportunity we had to learn at Zoo School! 

Thursday, 25 January 2018


Big day! We touched poop!

But let's rewind a little! Yes, today was poop-filled, but more importantly, we were able to meet an amazing animal ... Lucy the Asian Elephant!

This morning Teacher Courtney shared something serious. Elephants are endangered. Habitat loss and poaching were two ideas we explored together. We learned that some people choose to kill elephants for their tusks. 

An ivory statue and a tusk

Rather than buy ivory, people could make better and more caring choices. Elephant fans could instead buy a painting done by an elephant, write notes on "poo poo" paper made from elephant dung, or even buy carvings made from the taiga nut, which looks similar to ivory and also provides meaningful work to individuals in South America. 

Then we HELD ELEPHANT POOP! We held it!! Big day!!!!

Before meeting Lucy up close, we spent a few quiet minutes sketching and labeling her in her enclosure. 

Then it happened. We finally met Lucy!!!! 

We asked loads of questions, sang for her, and were absolutely enamored! Did you know she plays ball?

Before lunch, we went to see our chosen animal that we journal each day, but today our journaling was digital! Rather than write 3 words describing what our animal is doing, we took pictures on our iPads to show what our animal was doing. Then we assembled them using PicCollage! So exciting!

These meerkats were sleeping, standing, and scratching!

We gobbled up our lunches and were excited to meet Frodo, a 24 year-old Central Asian Tortoise! He was trying to find a gap in our circle and make a break for it! We continued our digital journaling with Frodo!

At the end of each day, Teacher Courtney has asked to journal our top moments using paper and pencil. Today, however, we did this digitally! The students were very engaged and motivated!

This student's Top 4 moments were meeting
Lucy & Frodo and seeing the tigers & seals. 

Today was a blast! How it is Thursday already?!?

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

"Otterly" Adorable!

Back for day 3 and ready for action! We hopped on the bus, traveled past our favourite "shiny balls" on the Whitemud, and counted zoo signs until we arrived!

The second we got to the zoo, we headed to the commissary! This kitchen feeds over 400 animals! 

We learned about herbivores and carnivores, and also about piscivores (primarily eat fish), insectavores (primarily eat insects), and frugivores (primarily eat fruit)! So many neat animals to feed at the zoo!

We took a peek at the enormous zoo recipe book that lists all of the dietary needs of all the animals. We examined the red panda's diet and even saw the bamboo being taken out for the day!

Teacher Courtney showed us the meat cart for the carnivores. Theses animals get whole food which is already dead. We had an excellent discussion about the food chain and how the zoo keeps animals healthy. 

Today, rather than sketch the animals we had chosen for the week, students got to decide fairly as a group which new animal they would observe today! This opportunity allowed us to compare and contrast the new animal with our previous one!

Comparing lemurs to meerkats

Comparing the snow leopard to the wolves

Comparing the wolves to the seals

Comparing the ref fox to the lemurs

It was nearing lunchtime, but before we got to eat, we saw the river otters being fed! We asked so many questions and were fascinated! 

They were "otterly" adorable and playful! This was a huge highlight of our day and we could have stayed forever!

After lunch we welcomed in Dean, who has been working with the Edmonton Valley Zoo for 39 years and has tremendous knowledge and infinite experience!

Dean taught us how animals can be safely captured (e.g. for medical checkups). He used hoop nets, control poles, and even some blow dart pipes (which aren't typically used but are oh, so super cool!). The zoo prefers to train animals to voluntarily do various behaviours so the animals can be medically examined or moved and keepers can safely interact with them, keeping captures to a minimum. 

After a few quiet minutes journaling our Top 4 moments of the day, we took one last stroll through the zoo and waved goodbye!

We were completely and "otterly" exhausted! 

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

We Just Can't Stop Smiling!

As we bounced back onto our bus for day 2 of Zoo School, one little girl exclaimed "Mrs. Beliveau, I just can't stop smiling!"

We also couldn't stop being silly

And so began day 2!

We knew the rules and routines, so the second we arrived we headed out to observe our animal ... and we had the zoo all to ourselves, as it hadn't even opened yet!! We observed 3 things about our animal and drew a labelled diagram. 





Then we discovered how the zoo trains animals! We learned about target training, how to reward an animal for a desired behaviour, and how to select an appropriate reward for a given animal! We had a hoot using pom poms on sticks and clickers to "train" one another!

Then off to Arctic Shores to see a harbor seal training session! 

After lunch, we tackled a rousing game of Mystery Artifact by working together to use our senses to identify several unknown animal items. We were presented with a red fox fur, a tortoise skin shoe, an owl wing, and a river otter fur. 

Mystery Artifacts

Then a bonus artifact was brought in ... a beautiful tiger fur! AMAZING!

Some cute little rats live in an enclosure in our classroom, and Teacher Courtney gave us an opportunity to meet one cutie, Zazu, close up!

We wrapped up by journaling our top 2 moments of the day. 

Back we go tomorrow for more learning, more challenges, more adventures, and more laughter! 

Monday, 22 January 2018

Zoo School is a Real Snooze!

What went on at the zoo today that had everyone snoozin' on the ride home?

Today was our first day attending the Edmonton Valley Zoo's week-long ZOO SCHOOL adventure, and it was an absolute blast!

We were met by Teacher Courtney and got busy right away! We were about to meet a non-venomous children's python, but first we recorded what we already knew and what we were wondering! 

Then out came 23 year old Rover! He lives in the caves of Australia and is a constrictor. We learned Rover continues to grow his whole life, which is why he sheds his skin. Ask your child about how taking off our sock is like Rover shedding!

Bursting with energy, we were let loose in small groups to do a little exploring and get acquainted with our amazing new "classroom" for the week!

After a speedy lunch, Teacher Courtney sent us out in our small groups again to tackle some animal observations. Each group will observe their chosen animal for a few minutes each day throughout the week! Today we were challenged to write 3 "ing" words, describing what our animal was doing. We also drew and labelled the animals' enclosures. 

Observing the Arctic wolves

Observing the seals

Goofing with the meerkats

We headed back indoors and Teacher Courtney noticed how curious we were to meet our classroom bunnies! This is Summer, a Flemish Giant. Can you believe he is only 1 year old?!? Everyone loved feeling his soft fur!

Our day ended with a visit to see Zena the Canadian Lynx! She was taking part in a training session. The zoo trains animals to help them learn to do behaviours that help the keepers and vets look after them. 

No wonder half the class fell asleep on the ride home! Can't wait to head back tomorrow! What a spectacular day of learning!

Monday, 8 January 2018

Break into 2018!

Grade 1 students are typically pretty enthusiastic, but today they were so excited they nearly had to be peeled off the ceiling!

Today Mr. Dumont showed up in our room with a delivery! He had a box. A very, very LOCKED box. And a few clues...

Our Grade 1 Breakout Box challenge was about to begin! The goal? Break into the box!

A Breakout Box is similar to a breakout room, but students use curricular skills to break into a box instead of breaking out of a room!

The theme for our box was from Dr. Seuss' book Oh the Places You'll Go!

Clue 1 asked us to examine boarding passes to figure out a 3-digit combination that would open our first lock! We found 3 seat numbers that we put together to make our combination!

Clue 2 was tricky. Using UV lights, we scanned Dr. Seuss' rhyming posters to discover a secret 4-letter word! This was the combination for the letter lock!

To open the directional lock, Clue 3 provided a goofy Dr. Seuss poem with directional words hidden inside!

Hooray! We opened the box!

What!?! Inside the box was a locked pouch, along with with a nonsensical message! 

Using a top-secret letter code, we deciphered the message and were able to make sense of it!
"Oh a place that you should look is near a book!"

We hunted for the key, and opened the inner box!

We did it!  We were rewarded with brand new "clicky" mechanical pencils! 

What better way to start our learning journey in 2018 than to work as a team and have a blast!

This breakout box activity was adapted from BreakoutEdu's Oh the Places You'll Go.