How I Use Research Tools with My Second Graders

It’s all about age-appropriateness.

Sponsored By PebbleGo by Capstone
Student with headphones researching animals using laptop

Research skills are super important, but when you teach second grade hybrid like I do, they can be quite a challenge to teach. It’s difficult to find age-appropriate digital research materials when doing a random search. Most of the available material is far above my students’ reading level and isn’t necessarily kid-friendly. Fortunately, I found a great resource. Check out how I made these animal reports happen using age-appropriate research tools with my second graders:

Setting the Stage

My students are obsessed with animals, so I decided to do in-class animal research projects using PebbleGo, a research tool specifically designed for K-3 students. For our first introduction, I displayed PebbleGo on my interactive whiteboard and modeled how to navigate through the program.

My demonstration included how to: go through each tab of information per topic, utilize the read-aloud audio, enlarge photographs, watch videos, listen to the corresponding animal sounds, and view the range map to see where animals are found in the wild.  Each animal page (except for common pets) has the following information tabs: body, habitat, food, life cycle, and fun facts.

After my mini-lesson, I gave the students 20 minutes to explore the entire animals’ section independently. Their enthusiasm was infectious! Each student had exciting animal facts to share with me every other second.

Student viewing the jellyfish page on PebbleGo

This student is learning about jellyfish on PebbleGo.

Working Together

The next day, I picked one animal to explore in-depth together. I chose the cardinal since we have seen some lately on campus and around the community. After going through each section together, each student found the cardinal page on their laptop.

All of the content has a read-aloud audio feature, which is especially helpful for my struggling readers. Additionally, all of the text and audio can be translated into Spanish. I have a new student who just arrived from Colombia and does not speak any English, so this has been a wonderful tool to assist her.

The students worked independently to complete the two activity sheets, which I also got from PebbleGo! I love how the “Share What You Know” sheet correlates with the five information tabs on each specific animal. Once my class was finished, we went over both sheets together through the document camera.

Student completing the cardinal activity sheets while reading information on PebbleGo

This student is researching and reporting on cardinals using PebbleGo.

Independent Practice

Now it was time for my students to do their own research and mini-reports. To shake things up, we had a drawing to determine what animal each student would research. Each student picked one slip out of a hat (after a round of handwashing, of course!), and things took off from there.

Student researching lions on PebbleGo and writing the information on the report sheet

This student is filling in his Share What You Know fact sheet about lions.

Each student completed a hard copy of the two activity sheets correlating to his or her assigned animal. Next, I introduced the students to the Read More eBooks section connected to each animal, which caused another wave of excitement! There were tons of books corresponding to the animal project topics.

This student is researching the red fox on PebbleGo and writing down her findings.

This student is researching the red panda and reporting her findings on her fact sheet.

Celebrating Success

Everyone shared their findings with the class in recognition of our success. The students were so proud of their reports, which of course had me kvelling.

These are work samples from two students using PebbleGo and the correlating activity sheets.

These are work samples from two different students.

These are work samples from two students using PebbleGo and the correlating activity sheets.

Two more student work samples from the PebbleGo animal report project.

The Takeaway

Our first research project using PebbleGo was a huge success. Even my students who I struggle with daily to complete assignments were highly motivated. This won’t be our last project. Next up: biographies and weather!

Want to try animal reports or another research project with your K-3 students?

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