Learn All Year Long
ReadWriteThink has a variety of resources for out-of-school use. Visit our Parent & Afterschool Resources section to learn more.
Take a Virtual Field Trip
|Grades||3 – 5|
|Activity Time||20 or more minutes a day, as often as desired|
- Computer and Internet access
- Sites with Webcams
- Art and Drawing Supplies
- Explore the Sites with Webcams, and choose the ones that will work best with your children. Note when the zoo indicates that the animals featured on the camera are typically active. Be prepared to choose an alternate camera if no animals appear within a reasonable length of time or if the Webcam is unavailable for some reason.
- Install RealPlayer and/or Windows Media Player on the computer being used so the Webcams can be viewed. The page for the site(s) choosen will indicate the plug-in that are needed to view the animals. These are free downloads, but it may take extra time to install the programs.
- An option instead of Webcams is for children to complete similar activities by observing a pet, animals at home or the zoo, or a birdfeeder or squirrel feeder outside the window or at a near-by park.
- Once a site is selected, gather children around the computer monitor so that everyone is able to see.
- Ask them to explain what they see on the Webcam display:
- What is the animal doing?
- What do you notice about the animal's habitat?
- How does the animal move?
- How does the animal interact with others?
- What else do you think the animal does in this habitat?
- What do you notice when you look closely at the images?
- What would a scientist notice about this animal?
- View the images from the Webcam once a day or several times during the day. Compare what is the same and what is different. If children are viewing multiple locations, compare how similar animals act differently in the different places.
- Invite children to draw pictures of what they have observed.
- If the children are interested in writing about what they have seen, encourage them to write it down in a notebook or using the Animal Webcam Observation Worksheet.
- Watching the animals can lead children to ask questions about the animals or their habitats. You can introduce nonfiction books and videos that children can use to look for additional information. Working together, you could search online, visit the library or search the resources you have available at home.
- To conclude the project, invite children to write all they learned about the animals in a notebook, on paper or using the Animal Webcam Observation Summary. Children can also create their own recording forms that match the animals they are observing.
- Take virtual fieldtrips to other places of interest, such as museums and galleries, that have online exhibits.
When children and teens observe, they may be following a formal process with a checklist of things to look for, or they may be exploring such a new experience that they can ask questions only after observing. Either way, observing should involve children and teens in the process of watching something closely, asking questions, and discussing what they have seen.
Discussion is a natural way for children and teens to express or explain what they already know or what they are learning. When possible, let children and teens lead the direction of a discussion. Ask questions that lead to an extended response (“What do you think about…?” or “Why do you think…?”) rather than questions that might result in a yes or no or a simple answer.