Investigating Snakes

Presented by: Bonnie French

Subject Area(s):

Grade Level(s):


Students will learn about snakes through literature and by using a simple database for research. They will then include the learned facts when writing a fictional story.



Day 1--Crictor Story

Direct Instruction:

TL will show students a box and explain that a friend went to Africa and sent her a package.  TL will feel inside the box, give clues (long, curled up, bit me, etc.) and have kids guess what is in the box. Pull a (fake) snake out very slowly so students can see how long it is. Introduce the snake as Crictor. Choose a student to hold or allow Crictor to wrap around him/her so Crictor can listen to the story too.


Modeling and guided practice:

Read Crictor by Tomi Ungerer to students while using a think aloud strategy (Every so often ask 3 kids what they are thinking. There is no right or wrong answer.).


Independent practice:

After the story, the students will play a game by making a letter or number on the floor with Crictor (the fake snake). TL will choose someone to guess what the letter or number is. If the selected student gets it right, then it’s their turn to create a letter or number with Crictor for another student to guess. Play the game as long as time allows.


During book exchange time, be sure there are lots of fiction and nonfiction books about snakes. The classroom teacher can read some of them to the children during the week.


Day 2 – Introduction to Pebble Go (in the computer lab)

Direct Instruction:

TL will review the last day's activities with students by asking them what they did, what kind of animal Crictor was, and what kind of snake they think Crictor may have been.  The TL will ask students what they know about boa constrictors.  S/he will explain to students that she will show them a place on the computer where they can find facts about boa constrictors (Pebble Go database).


Modeling and guided practice:

TL will demonstrate and discuss the following: Opening Firefox, Bookmark, Our school page, basic databases, Pebble Go. S/he will open Pebble Go, discuss what a database is, and model how to locate a topic (boa constrictor), how to view the chapter headings at the bottom of the screen, how to view the short movie and exit it, and how to listen to the sounds of the animal. The TL will also demonstrate how they can either read the page or listen to it being read. The class will listen to the page about the body of the boa constrictor. TL should ask if there are any words that students didn’t know and show students that if a word is in a different color they can click on it so they can see that it is linked to the definition.  TL will ask several simple questions about boa constrictors for the students to answer.


Independent practice:

Each student will go to a computer, open Firefox and locate Pebble Go. They will each search for “boa constrictor” and either read or listen to one of the pages.


Day 3 – Notetaking

Modeling and guided practice:

Review - Have students tell the steps for locating Pebble Go on the computer and model each step as they say it.  Ask a question about what the boa constrictor looks like, and either choose a student to read the “body” page or have everyone listen to the “body” page using the audio option on Pebble Go.  Ask about what the boa constrictor looks like again and call on a student to answer. Give at least 10 seconds wait time for the student to begin answering.  Hold up a large index card with the words “boa constrictor” and “body” already written on it and model to students how to write the answer on the card.


Independent practice:

Give each student a card with one of the headings “boa constrictor” and “body” written at the top.  Students will each go to a computer, locate Pebble Go, and write facts about their topic.  Students may not complete this assignment during this day in the library, so the CT will have them work  in the classroom and return the cards to the TL before students' next library visit.


Days 4 & 5 – Writing

Ahead of time, TL should create a chart on large paper with headings (body, food, etc.) on the left and the student notes on the right.


Modeling and guided practice:

As a group, the students will write a story about Crictor in which Crictor becomes friends with another boa constrictor. TL should continuously refer to the notes on the chart so that the class can include several facts in the story. TL will model and guide students in writing the story.


Sharing and reflecting:

TL will type the story and have students illustrate it the following week.  When finished, the students will share their thoughts of the unit. Their story could be included in the Parent Newsletter, posted to a school website, or be copied and sent home with students.