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Massillon kindergartners, third graders publish book on zoo animals

Massillon – Did you know that orangutans live from 50 to 60 years? Or does their diet consist primarily of leaves and fruits?

These are just some of the facts that Gurel students Melody Axeta and Madalene Kemp learned while researching the animal.

“They look like monkeys,” said 5-year-old Melody.

She is a kindergarten student, Eileen Sergo. Madalene, 9, is a third grader in Tammy Sorensen’s class.

Sirgo and Sorensen’s classes came together to write and illustrate a book about animals they might see on a trip to the zoo.

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On Friday, the students got their first look at the final project during the unveiling ceremony.

On Our Trip to the Zoo features original artwork and animal stories created by the students.

A trip to the zoo

After receiving a flyer in the mail from Studentreasures Publishing, a company that provides free tools to help young authors create their own books, Sirgo thought why not give it a try.

“After our year in, it seemed like the right thing to do this year,” said the nursery teacher.

The company provided everything they needed to write their book, including examples from published books. The only cost was buying the finished book.

Working with kindergarten, Sirgo decided to collaborate with older students to create content. She turned to her classmate, Teacher Sorensen. The two taught third grade together before Sergio moved on to teach the Youngest Learner four years ago.

Kindergarten children share a third grade student. They had a month to observe and collect facts about an animal as well as create artwork for the book.

Their literary journey began with virtual field trips to zoos around the world. From there, they choose an animal that they would like to be the centerpiece of their story.

Then the students watched the live cam broadcast of their animals in the zoo to learn more about their creatures.

For Melody and Madalene, they learned that orangutans like to sleep during the day.

“All he does is sleep during the day,” Madalene said. “It was kind of boring.”

Turning to the live cam of another zoo, the pair found another orangutan more interesting.

The primate was using a saw to cut a piece of wood.

“That was the best part,” Melody said with a laugh.

After collecting their research, students put their heads together to write a paragraph about their animals.

Each story began with the phrase “On our trip to the zoo we might see…”. Sergio said the kindergarten student finished the paragraph with a closing sentence.

The little ones continued their partnership in an illustration that goes with their paragraph. The third grader drew the animal and the habitat, and the younger student colored the picture.

Besides having a little fun, the project included a number of lessons including reading, writing, arts and science.

The students also learned about the book’s writing process and the things that make up the book such as the table of contents, the spine, and the title page.

The project also established lasting bonds between students.

“They’re looking for each other in the hallway,” Sorensen said. “It was a lot of fun.”

Collaborating with each other is nothing new for Sorensen and Sirgo. Teaching colleagues have been reading buddies with their students since Sirgo moved to kindergarten.

Sorensen said: “We’ve taken it to the next level.

During the unveiling ceremony, the students were able to see the book. Older students read the passages to their kindergarten peers. The book brought smiles to children’s faces.

“We are proud of you,” Sergio told the students. “Sounds beautiful. You are now published authors.”

A student’s book also has its own ISBN – the International Standard Book Number – a unique identifier for publications.

“It was so much fun,” Madalene said of the process, adding that her favorite part was working with her partner Melody. “It was awesome”.

The students also enjoyed donuts and milk to celebrate the book’s release.

The book is available to purchase for $23.99. Anyone interested can contact the teachers for details. Sergio added that a copy will be presented to the school next week to be placed in the school library.

“Are we going to do this again?” Sergio asked. “I’m pretty sure. I’ve already had the mother of a student saying she can’t wait for her other kid to be able to do it in kindergarten.”

You can reach Amy at 330-775-1135 or amy.knapp@indeonline.com

On Twitter: @aknappINDE

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