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Mossy and the Animal Garden

What if there really was a turtle with a garden growing on his back? And if a turtle can grow a garden, what about another animal like a dolphin, an alligator or a hippo? Let Mossy by Jan Brett be the inspiration for a class garden of animals.

  • Grade 2
    Grade 3
    Grade 4
  • 60 to 90 Minutes
  • Directions

    1. Read Mossy by Jan Brett. Discuss and present in small groups the characters of the book, as well as their feelings and actions.
    2. Discuss as a large group the role of the museum (as an institution) in society. Debate whether the museum was a good or bad place for Mossy. Brainstorm on chart paper. How are museums good for society? What are the negatives? Compare and contrast the museum Mossy was in to an art museum in a Venn diagram.
    3. Explain that Jan Brett loves turtles and was inspired to write Mossy after seeing a turtle with algae on its back. Allow students to choose animals they love and they might enjoy seeing with a garden on their backs.
    4. Give each student some Crayola Model Magic® or Crayola Air-Dry Clay®. Model Magic is lighter for little hands to manipulate and will not break as easily once dry if dropped. Demonstrate how fresh Model Magic will stick to itself when it is fresh from the pack and can be given texture with modeling tools.
    5. Have students create two main body shapes (oval, circle, rectangle etc.) for an animal of their choice. Keep one body shape smooth and put it aside to dry, explain this will be the garden later. Have the students use the rest of the modeling compound to add details (head, feet, fins, etc.) to the other body shape and use tools to add texture and detail.
    6. When Model Magic is dry students can add color to their animal using Crayola® Washable Kids’ Paint or Washable Markers.
    7. Have students cut various flowers from gardening magazines and wallpaper scraps and glue all over second body shape using Crayola School Glue. Students can then glue their garden onto their animals’ backs.
    8. When the animals are complete students can help categorize them for display as curators of their animal garden museum.
  • Standards

    LA: Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.

    LA: Acknowledge differences in the points of view of characters.

    LA: Recount or describe key ideas or details from a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.

    SS: Identify examples of institutions and describe the interactions of people with institutions.

    SS: Show how groups and institutions work to meet individual needs and promote the common good, and identify examples where they fail to do so.

    VA: Students will investigate, plan and work through materials and ideas to make works of art and design.

    VA: Students will intentionally select and analyze their artwork and the work of others when deciding what artwork to present.

    VA: Students will demonstrate that art communicates meaning through sharing their work and the work of others.

  • Adaptations

    Take students to a museum to identify people and their roles that reside in their community.

    Allow students to create a diorama of their animals’ habitats.

    Plant a school community garden.

    Mossy is a fictional story. Research the probability of a garden actually growing on an animal. In groups, have students experiment with propagating seeds on various surfaces.

    Have students research actual cases of plants growing on animals (algae that grows on sloths, or whales) or how different animals help carry seeds or pollen to help plants reproduce.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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