Animal Research Project using Keynote

Today I’m linking up with Amanda at Teaching Maddeness to share my favorite technology project of last year.  I think the reason why this project stands out as my favorite is because if you had asked me at the beginning of the school year, I never would have thought it was possible to do with first graders.  
Since we had a zoo fieldtrip planned for April, my team and I decided to make it an authentic experience by having the students research a specific animal beforehand and then observe that animal at the zoo.  We decided on five different animals from which the students could choose, making sure they were ones we would be able to observe at the zoo.

I put up a few kid-friendly research websites on my class website from which my students could choose to search for information.  Some of the sites had videos, which were very helpful for the struggling readers.  Also, I don’t know if you are all aware of this, but Macs have an option for any text to be read aloud.  The students simply highlight text from a website and go to edit > speech > start speaking.  They can use it for one word that they’re struggling with or for multiple paragraphs.  My kids used it all the time and it made all of our lives so much easier!  THIS National Geographic site was by far their favorite because it’s so user-friendly and there are great facts and videos about each animal.

Before we began the project, I did a lot of modeling on how to search for information on each of the sites as well as how to take notes.  Since each of my first graders had had their own MacBook the entire year, they had already become very confortable with both typing and navigating different websites to find information.  We researched one topic at a time in small increments and the students recorded facts in their spiral notebooks.  I tried to get them to write at least one complete sentence to summarize their findings for each topic and circle the sentence they wanted to type into their Keynote presentation.  These were our four topics:
  • Habitat—Where does the animal live?
  • Diet—What does the animal eat?
  • Size—How big does the animal get? 
  • Predators—What animals eat it?
Since this was the first time my students had ever used Keynote, we created each slide together at the same time, with me guiding them on the SMARTboard.  Each slide represented one of the four topics, and they also had a title page.  In order to get pictures into the presentations, I modeled how to take a screen shot, how to copy and paste, and how to simply drag an image into the Keynote presentation.

The kids LOVED this project and I was so proud of what my little firsties were able to accomplish.  It made our zoo field trip all the more exciting and authentic for them.  After the students had finished their Keynotes, they presented them to their third grade reading buddies.  They were so proud of their hard work and loved having an audience.  


  1. Love this idea! I admit I was always nervous to try a technology project at the beginning of first grade. Now I see it can be done! Thanks for sharing! :)
    Leah @

  2. What a fantastic project idea! I love that the 1st graders did such an amazing job. Just goes to show that we should never underestimate them. :)

    The Teaching Thief

  3. Wow. What an amazing and ambitious project to take on with first graders. I am so jealous of your 1:1 technology! Thanks for stopping by my blog. I'm your newest follower!

    There’s a Giveaway at Kinder-Craze

  4. WOW!! How awesome would 1:1 be!! We're a PC district but I do a similar project during our animal research using PowerPoint with my 2nd graders. They always beg for more! Thanks so much for linking up to the party! I'm your newest follower. :)

    Teaching Maddeness

  5. I am so going to do this next year before we take our zoo trip. My students love to use computers and I would like to do more. I wish we had 1:1 too. Needless to say I'm jealous.

    Thanks for commenting on my post.

    Ms. Fiorini’s Stadium

  6. What an awesome project!!! I love when technology projects work out just like you want them to (or even better!) :-) And thanks for the great website tip and I didn't know about being about to read aloud on the Mac!!!! I am going to do this project with my kids next year too on our zoo field trip! :-)

  7. Hi Kristin - great project. I bet the kids loved it! Just found you and am your newest follower. :o)
    Traditions, Laughter and Happily Ever After

  8. Love this post! Our animal research project is going to turn into a techie project this year! We have our students create their animals out of clay in art class. Then, we create shoe box habitats in class out of all sorts of craft items. It would be neat to put a photo of the habitat they make into the slideshow. The animal research project is always a favorite project of many students!

    EduKate and Inspire
    Stop by my 100 follower giveaway!

  9. Hi Kristin...I am passing the Liebster Blog award to you. Please visit my blog to pick it up (and while you are there, enter my first giveaway.)

  10. This post is exactly why I LOVE your blog! You always have so many great ideas. Especially technological ones. This is such a new area to me, and I am so excited to find someone who has so many great links. I always do an animal report at the end of the year, and what a great addition this could be. Thanks for sharing this. I always love reading through your posts! :)

    Reaching for the TOP!