For this project, second grade teacher Mrs. Debbie Coats and I decided we would like to collaborate. Mrs. Coats had already read to her class in Wisconsin. This book is a great mixture of fantasy and fact. In this story Emily writes letters to her teacher, Mr. Blueberry, asking questions about whales. Mr. Blueberry, in turn, responds with factual information in letter format. Mrs. Coats' class had generated their own questions about whales with a KWL chart. I immediately saw a natural extension of their work - to turn their questions into letters to my second graders in Massachusetts, similar to those in the book, and e-mailed Mrs. Coats excitedly, suggesting a collaboration. She was excited by the idea and had her children use beautiful whale e-cards to type their letters to us.
On our end, I read Dear Mr. Blueberry to the class and discussed the project with the children. Once letters were received, the children chose questions that they'd like to answer and we set out to research them with partners.
~ Research ~
First we brainstormed ways that we could find information. The Internet topped the list, but I wanted to expose the children to other resources. An afternoon in our school Library proved very exciting for the children as they discovered the amazing amount of information in encyclopedias. Of course, the Internet did prove to be very helpful, as well. Research continued at home.
~ Adopting Whales ~
Simultaneously, we began to have four weekly collections of spare change to try to raise enough money to adopt a whale. To collect money at home, we played the "Spare Change Game". Moms and/or dads were asked to empty pockets or purses of "spare change". If their child could count the money correctly, the child could save the money in a ziploc bag for our weekly collections. If the child could not count it correctly, the parent got to keep the money. On "Count Up Day" we were thrilled to learn that we had raised $86.58. We had enough money to adopt TWO whales!
We discussed choices for adoption. We knew that Maura's family had already adopted a whale named Fringe. The children were very excited to learn that we could adopt one of her calves, Tornado! The vote was 21-2 in favor of her.
Since the right whale is one of our state symbols (state marine mammal) and SO endangered, we wanted our other choice to be a right whale. The children loved "Lucky" because of our classroom theme "Lucky Ladybugs." Sixteen of our twenty three votes were cast for her.
Here are our new friends, Tornado and Lucky.
Click on each picture to learn more about them.
~ Letter Writing ~
All research was then brought to Writers' Workshop where we composed our responses in letter format to our friends in Wisconsin. The children were sometimes puzzled with the fact that different resources gave them different information. This meant we had to check and recheck our information - an important lesson learned!
~ Artwork ~
We then created artwork to illustrate our letters. The children first sketched the scene, then outlined and colored with crayons and cray-pas. Next, the ocean was painted with watercolor, and we finished the sky with artist's chalk.
~ Online Book ~
All of the work from both classes was finally put together into an online book which we're titling Dear Friends. To begin reading it, click on the image below. To turn the pages, click on each picture. We hope you enjoy it!
Scroll down for resources.
See more of our great artwork which are also puzzles!
Let's Learn About Whales
Name the Whale - Make a Match
All About Whales - Drag and Drop Cloze Facts
Write or email questions to Shamu
Ask Shamu Index
FAQs from Shamu
Never Ending Whale Tale
Add to one of the chapters of this
lengthy never ending story
Theme from Enchanted Learning
Wonderful World of Whales
Whales: A Thematic Web Unit
Teacher Resource from Reading Rainbow
Scroll down to Humphrey the Lost Whale
Whales Reader's Theatre
from a second grade in Hawaii
Adopt a Whale Program
Now these are what I call real "Whale Tails"!
Adopt a Right Whale
Massachusetts' state sea mammal!