Back to Projects

What is a Mastodon?

School: Genesee Community Charter School

City/State: Rochester, NY

Grade(s): K

Format(s): Children's book

Subject(s): Science and Technology, Visual Arts

Project Overview

This children’s book was created by kindergarten students from the Genesee Community Charter School in Rochester, New York, as part of a learning expedition on prehistoric local history.

Within the larger topic of early history, students did a case study of mastodons. They began by examining a Mystery Object (see page 2 of this book, “The Box”), which, through their research at a local museum, they discovered was a mastodon tooth.

As part of the expedition, students did fieldwork at a local paleontological site where they worked with a paleontologist and excavated sea creature fossils from warm sea fossil beds.

This learning expedition entailed extensive integration of arts, including artistic models, dance, movement and songs.

For this final product, students wrote statements about what they had learned about mastodons and, working with the school’s visual arts teacher, created ink and watercolor paintings to illustrate the text, creating a simple yet elegant product.

The original product was produced in-house on glossy, magazine like paper, with center-staple binding. This book, and many others like it, is available for purchase on the schools’ website.

How This Project Can Be Useful

  • Exemplifies exciting and engaging fieldwork by young students
  • Beautiful paintings, exemplifying young students’ use of ink and watercolor as a medium
  • Paintings are whimsical and vibrant while capturing accurate details about mastodons
  • Writing is highly detailed and accurate for kindergarten students. See page 10 on Mastodon Extinction for an example
  • Provides a wonderful introduction to the learning expedition, giving the reader an engaging feel for what the students experienced
  • The professional layout and printing gives the product the feel of a real children’s book
  • Highlights the use of local resources, including relevant early history

Common Core State Standards

Standard Long Term Learning Target
  • With support, I can describe how two people, events, and/or ideas are connected in informational texts.
  • I can teach my reader about a topic using pictures and words.
  • I can tell a story to my reader using pictures and words.
  • I can participate in shared writing projects.
  • With support from adults, I can answer questions about things I’ve done or learned about.
  • I can describe objects by how they can be measured.
Back to Projects