Boy–it’s taken me a long time to finish this newest piece of the Savanna Safari Maps, Mural, and MiniMuseum. Life has interrupted things in a big way for the last few months, but I think I’m back on track and I’m happy to introduce this newest activity to help kids learn some pretty complex concepts quickly!
During my teaching decades I found that sorting tasks were really amazing tools for teaching some difficult things, and my students were always very engaged as they completed them. Working in small groups of 2-3 students always generated a lot of discussion and helped clarify what they are learning. These sorting mats and cards are based on these experiences. There are five sorting mats (4 for PS-Grade 1), and 64 cards depicting plants and animals of the African savanna. Students sort the cards according to different characteristics:
- Animal Classification
- Plant Adaptations
- Diurnal or Nocturnal
- Wet Season or Dry Season
- Where Does it Live?
The cards have information printed on the back so that students can use them to learn things they don’t know, or test themselves on what they do know. Spreading the images out and arranging them on a mat allows them to make comparisons and distinctions. This activity is very visual, auditory, and manipulative. I recommend using the mats to introduce concepts you wish to present, teach the whole class how to use the materials, and then place them at a science center (a classroom minimuseum) or with a classroom aid for small group exploration. The students don’t need to use every card on every mat, so you can get a lot of use out of printing a single set of materials.
It will take 1-2 hours to prepare the materials, but then they should last for life. I always had parent volunteers prepare them for me. They’ll need to be printed, laminated, and cut apart. I often sent materials to be cut apart to parents at home who couldn’t volunteer in the classroom.
The ledger sized mats may be printed on a large format printer, but if you don’t have access to one you may use the letter size files. These mats print on two pieces of letter size paper. Then you must trim the inner margins and tape them together on the back before laminating. They work fine, but are a little smaller due to piecing them together.
If you are interested in more information you may download the sample here: Sample Savanna Sorting Mats and Cards . You may also go to my shop at TeachersPayTeachers or Teacher’s Notebook for a closer look.