What Lives Under a Rock?

Doreen Erickson
Cook School
Cook, MN 55723
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In this indoor and outdoor lab, students will listen to the story, Under One Rock. They will make a related mini-book observation journal in which they will record their observations of animals found under a rock as they investigate outdoors. They will share their completed journals by reading them aloud and telling about their pictures.

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Learning Goals

Students will learn that animals live together in a community and have links that help them survive.
Students will listen and respond to a story.
Students will observe animals they find under a rock and record their observations through drawing and writing.

Context for Use

This lesson is written for a first grade classroom, including the entire group of students and making adaptations as necessary. The lesson, which can be broken down into shorter segments, will take approximately 60 to 90 minutes. While the entire lesson can be done outdoors, it may also be done partially indoors and partially outdoors in shorter segments, in the course of one day or two days. First graders work best in shorter segments. To break it up, we read and discuss the story in the class library, then move to desks for the writing instruction, then move outside to observe and record, and back into the classroom to finish, reflect, and share.

Skills needed:
·Ability to write capital and small letters and first and last name.
·Observation drawing, coloring, and/or writing.
·Proper use and handling of a hand lens or magnifying glass for making observations.

Description and Teaching Materials

In Advance:
- Scout out a nearby outdoor area that would have good size rocks in a "cool dark place... away from the sun" to look under. (This activity is best done after it rains or when the ground is wet so animals such as worms will be near the surface.)
- Gather the necessary materials (listed below).
- Check with the school nurse and note any medical concerns that may affect individual students.
- Notify parents and the school office. Prepare a note to leave on your door stating you will be out of the classroom, where the class will be working, and when you will be back. If other school staff will be affected, be sure to talk with them also.

Materials Needed:
- The book, "Under One Rock Bugs, Slugs, and Other Ughs," by Anthony D. Fredericks and illustrated by Jennifer DiRubbio (read to the class).
- "Under One Rock" mini-book observation journals, lap boards, pencils, and crayons.
- Craft sticks (i.e. Popsicle sticks) for digging and/or picking up small bugs, worms, etc. for a closer look.
- A hand lens or magnifying glass for better observation. (Students should have previous experience with this tool. If not, do a guided discovery before going out.)
- First Aid kit.
- Appropriate attire for the weather.

The Lesson:
1. Show the book, "Under One Rock Bugs, Slugs, and Other Ughs," written by Anthony D. Frederick and illustrated by Jennifer DiRubbio. Read the title and ask students to predict what the book might be about. Connect to prior knowledge. Then read the story. The book is written in the style of "The House That Jack Built," so the vocabulary is reinforced over and over, and students may want to join in on the repetitive text. Relate the animals with the illustrations. Discuss how they relate to each other in their "community." Take note of clues in the story where the child looked (i.e. "a cool dark place" "away from the sun.")
2. Make a mini-book observation journal using the attached sheet or construct your own by folding a piece of paper in fourths. Tell the students to first fold the paper in half (a "hamburger fold" as opposed to a "hot dog fold") and then fold in half again (another "hamburger fold") to make a 4 page booklet. On page 1 read and write the title, Under One Rock and the author (student's first and last name) reviewing the proper use of capital and small letters. On the top of page 2 write, "Under one rock,". Students will later draw the rock and either the surroundings or perhaps their shoe or a ruler to show the relative size of the rock. On the top of page 3 write, "I saw...". Students will later draw and/or write the animals they observe. On the top of page 4 write, "I liked ________." or "I learned _______." or "I wonder______."
3. Equip students with the necessary writing tools, hand lens/magnifying glasses, and craft sticks. Do a "Guided Discovery" activity with the tools as needed.
4. Before going outdoors, discuss safety issues, "rock turning," staying with the group, limits, respect for the environment, etc. and leave a note on the door.
5. Go outside to the pre-chosen area with tools and mini-book observation journals to look under a rock and immediately record observations on pages 2 and 3. Students may work with partners or in small groups. Look under a rock in a cool, dark place and record animals observed in a journal. Complete the mini-book observation journals outdoors or in the classroom by completing writing, drawings, coloring, and proofreading.
6. Read the completed journal to a partner, to the teacher, and finally to the class using an appropriate speaking voice. We usually share finished work with the class at snack time. Put completed journals in the class library in the "First Grade Authors" section to be read at D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything And Read) time and later shared with guests at the year end class "Authors' Tea."


Mini-book observation journals should contain writing that makes sense and appropriately uses capital and small letters. They should contain appropriate colored illustrations. Students will share their work by reading the text aloud and explaining their illustrations.


Grade 1
Life Science 1.IV.F.1 Animals need air, water, and food.
Language Arts 1.I.B.1 Learn new words.
Language Arts 1.I.C.8 Write or draw response to show comprehension of story read.
Language Arts 1.I.D.1 Listen to realistic fiction.
Language Arts 1.II.A.2 Write to record observations.
Language Arts 1.III.A.6 Use appropriate voice level.

References and Resources