This product is meant as a pre-reading activity for Scott O'Dell's Island of the Blue Dolphins. It works especially well with the 4th grade California history curriculum but is appropriate for upper elementary students in any state. This activity teaches students to conduct basic research using search engines. The instructions ask the students to begin to discern reliable from unreliable sources by looking for clues in the URL and on the websites themselves.
This packet lists 20 plants and animals that are mentioned in Island of the Blue Dolphins. When they search for each animal on a search engine, the students write down a short definition of the word (what kind of animal/plant, etc.) and the URL where they found the animal. Then the students are asked to use colored pencils to draw each item based on a photograph they find online.
This activity is appropriate as homework or as classwork. I find it helpful to work through the first 2-3 items together as a group, and then I assign the remainder as homework.
In lieu of a traditional answer key, this packet includes a Power Point presentation containing photos of all twenty plants and animals. Because this is a skill-building activity, I don't deduct points if the students make mistakes; instead, I expect the students to fix their mistakes and learn from them. I move through the Power Point presentation and call on students to share their results, and we troubleshoot as needed.
This activity could certainly be a precursor not only O'Dell's novel but also to an art project in which the students make models of Karana's island, complete with the animals and plants found there.
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