Animal Research Papers For 2nd Graders

Our third grade writing program requires each student to complete an animal research paper. My daughter thoroughly enjoyed this project and with the help of her teacher and writing prompts, she wrote an amazing paper (I’m really not biased – it was amazing).

Resources to Research Animals

Use library books, encyclopedias and magazines to research your animal. In addition, there are numerous online resources. Our school provided a list of three online resources (noted by *). Since these resources require a membership, we provided a few more online sites to assist in researching an animal.

Online Resources for Animal Research Paper

Animal Diversity Web
Animal Planet
Britannica Online
(Membership required for premium services) *
Especies Fact Sheets
Exploring Nature Educational Resource
(Membership required for some information)
Kids Biology
National Geographic
Pebble Go (Membership required) *
SIRS Discover (Membership required) *

Each student selects an animal of her choice and should take good notes when collecting facts and important details about her animal. Good note taking will greatly assist a student when writing his animal research paper. You may want to remind each student to use his own words.

Writing Prompts for Animal Research Paper

After a student selects her animal, she must answer the questions below. It is important to instruct your child or student to take her time and answer each question thoroughly. These answers will be used to create the animal research paper.

  1. What does your animal look like? Describe their physical description.
  2. What does your animal eat? How much?
  3. Where does your animal live? Describe their habitat.
  4. Describe the behavior of your animal.
  5. What is the lifecycle of your animal? Describe their life span.
  6. What are two interesting facts about your animal?
  7. Give an opinion of your animal. Be able to support your opinion!

After a student completes the above questions, it’s time to begin writing the first draft of the research paper. Take the information obtained above and put it on paper.

Begin by restating each question or using TTQA (turn the question around), e.g. my animal likes to eat … Our third grade students write their first draft on gray bar paper. Each student writes her first draft on the white lines only. The gray lines are for both the student and teacher; these lines are used for changes and corrections, e.g., punctuation or spelling. This writing checklist is a great tool to help a child proof his paper.

Each answer to the questions above should be a paragraph with the exception of the interesting facts question. The two facts should get put into the paragraph that is most applicable, e.g., habitat, physical description or life span.

Do not include your opinion but make sure to include an opening paragraph that captures a reader and gives a broad overview of your animal. Please consider reading our post on the writing process to learn more about the revising, editing and publishing stages. Our third grade students publish their animal research paper on the template to the left. They must provide a detailed picture of their animal and use their best handwriting.

If you are a teacher, consider visiting our writing rubric page for different templates used to grade writing papers.

I was first introduced to the idea of creating Animal Dioramas when my son (who was a first grader at the time), brought home a shoebox and a basic instruction sheet from his teacher to create a diorama of any animal and its natural habitat.  Being a mom, I was so excited about the opportunity to help my son create something he was so excited about!  Being a teacher, I knew that I had to do a project like this with my own students, but I had no idea where to start.

I shared the idea with my second grade colleagues, and they all loved it!  We worked together to create a basic letter to send home to parents, but struggled to find just the right way to show students exactly what the project is and how to do it.  (I don't know about your class, but I have to break everything into very small steps for most of my kiddos!)  So, I decided to create a unit that would have everything you could ever need for doing a project like this.  Trust me, if you want to do this project with your class - this unit will save you SO much time and make your life so much easier!  

To start off, our science focus for the entire month is ANIMALS!  We spent time reading about animals and life cycles in our science books, and this week we are learning all about animal habitats. I found some really amazing videos on habitats on our district portal, but you can also find some really cute and informative videos here (around 3-5 minutes each):

Earlier this week, I sent home a letter to parents to let them know that we will be starting our dioramas soon! I also asked parents to send shoe boxes to school with their child, if possible.  You may want to send home your parent letter 1-2 weeks before you intend to send home the assignment. I like to send everything home with the student on a Friday, so they have the weekend to start gathering supplies and begin working on their project.  I usually give students 3-4 weeks to complete the project at home.  My student dioramas are due on May 6th, which gives me plenty of time to have them present their projects and have them on display for our Open House the following week!  After that, I'll be happy to send them home with the students.  

This is what I sent home with the students to kick off our Animal Diorama and Research Report Project! (Of course I stapled them together so the pages didn't go flying all over the place when they went outside, but for the purpose of this photo - I laid them out so you can see them!)

That's it!  Easy-peasy!  Just send the directions for the project, the animal research report poster, the student grading rubric, and the presentation outline home and have your students work on their projects on their own time.  My second grade team and I decided to have one day where we all will keep our classrooms open or an hour or so after school so students can come in and work on their projects, use classroom supplies, get help with research, etc.

We will be doing the majority of the research in the classroom, and will be writing the research reports as well.  I just prefer to do that part with the students, so I can guide them through the writing process.  The majority of our research will be done on the internet during our computer lab time.  I've found these websites to be VERY helpful and easy for kids to find the information they need for their reports!
While we are in the computer lab, I had the students record their research information on this sheet:


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