Creatures of the Land & Sea

A Research Project for 5th Grade Students

Biomes Unit

Introduction | Notes | Outline | Paper | Presentation

Introduction to Biomes Research

Your child will spend the next few weeks working on a research paper.  The topic is an ocean or land animal of their choice. The assignment will require them to do the following:
  • Find a minimum of 3 different resources.
  • Take notes on labeled note cards.
  • Write an organized outline from their notes.
  • Write a bibliography of their resources.
  • Create a written report including illustrations for the animal and its habitat.
  • Create and dress in a costume to display their animal.
  • Give an oral presentation (in costume).
Note: We will start work on this research project in class and will explain the requirements in more detail during that time.
The assignment will progress one step at a time. There will be specific due dates for note cards, outline, paper, and costume. These dates will be posted on the student calendar and Friday Updates.  Students will be given class time and library time for research.  Unfortunately, resources at school may be limited as all 5th grade classes are working on the same assignment.  As a result, it may be necessary for students to go to a local library and/or internet for information.
The following are acceptable resources:
  • books
  • newspapers
  • encyclopedia
  • science textbook
  • internet resources
  • magazines
  • National Geographic animal cards
  • in-class films, videos, and movies


Students will gather expertise from various resources and place them on 5" x 8" note cards using the following categories.  Students should focus on finding the details below and any additional information that will help the class understand the life of their animal. 
A) Appearance / Physical Description / Adaptations
1) color
2) size (weight / height / length)
3) distinguishing features
4) appendages (arms / legs / etc.)
5) differences between males and females of species
6) body covering
7) other
B) Diet
1) what animal eats
2) how animal eats
C) Young
1) when during the year young are born
2) how many are born at one time
3) what young look like
4) how young depend on parents
5) how young are taught
6) other
D) Predators
1) predators of animal and/or its young
2) how an animal defends itself and/or its young
E) Habitat / Behavioral Adaptations
1) where animal lives
2) home (builds/finds)
3) whether lives alone or in groups
4) how animal is adapted to living in the ocean
F) Other Interesting Facts

Students will create an outline of their notes to help organize their research before beginning to write the research paper.  The outline will help students to focus their writing by gathering related facts, eliminating duplicate information, and putting data in a logical order.  Students will follow typical outline guidelines.  The outline should group logical details about the animal, so they can be presented in a concise manner.  Other facts can be integrated into the outline as appropriate. Irrelevant sections can be eliminated.  For example:
I. Introduction
A. Animal Name
B. Classification
II. Physical Description
A. Color
1. Color when young
2. Color when mature
B. Size
C. Distinguishing Features
1. Bioluminescence
2. Luring Prey
D. Camouflage
III. Habitat
A. Typical Ocean Locations
B. Life Near a Vent
C. Withstanding the Deep Ocean Pressure
VIII. Conclusion

The research paper will be placed into a report cover that has the name of the animal, an image of the animal, and the students name.  Students will also create an image of the animal's habitat that will be pasted into the inside back cover.
The research report will be stapled inside the cover and it will consist of:
  1. Title page with the animal's name and picture
  2. Outline to describe the paper's contents
  3. Main essay with a minimum of eight paragraphs (Introduction, Physical Description, Diet, Young, Predators, Habitat, Other Facts, and Closing).
  4. Bibliography page
Students will create the bibliography using NoodleTools (  Students will gather their resource information on bibliography slips (bib slips) and then enter that information into the tool to generate the bibliography page. When printing, it is easiest to export to HTML format and then just copy the text into your document.  Typical login is below; students should know their login, but they can e-mail me if they are not sure.
            Login:         First Initial + First 4 Letters of Last Name (e.g., Robert James is "RJame")
            Password:   grasse
Students have the option of creating an acrostic poster using the animal's name.  The acrostic must have one sentence listing an interesting fact for each letter in the animal's name.

Students will create a costume that illustrates the physical characteristics of their animal.  This costume may be as simple as a drawing of the animal on poster board, or may be as elaborate as a sewn fabric costume. Students choose how to best help the class and visitors visualize their animal and complement their presentation.
Students will then be required to give an oral presentation (in costume) about their animal summarizing the key characteristics, including adaptations to the animal's biome.  This monologue will be done in front of their peers and will highlight the animal's key attributes.
Additionally, parents and other students will be invited to attend a "Wax Museum" where students in costume will be frozen until someone pushes their "ON" button. Students will then repeat their monologue for the viewer and shut down again.
Ocean Life:
Index Cards:
Octopus Costume: