Carrollton celebrates animals

Published 10:12 pm Thursday, April 6, 2017

The creativity of Carrollton Elementary School’s first-graders was on display Wednesday.

The school was transformed for its Animals Alive exhibition, a gallery that displayed weeks of research, art and moviemaking done by approximately 125 first-grade students.

The students chose from a variety of animals to research and write about in their classrooms. Elementary STEM teacher Kristy Vukmanic wrote a grant for the Isle of Wight Education Foundation for each grade level and used it to build on their classroom research.

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“We decided to take this animal writing project they were doing in class and took it from there,” Vukmanic said.

Teachers helped the students with their projects in every class. They made habitat backgrounds in art classes with crayons, acrylic and construction paper. STEM classes allowed them to make animal puppets with recyclable materials.

“It goes back to helping out their animals by preserving their environment,” art teacher Heather Enyingi said.

Music classes were spent learning animal sounds, and physical education had the students practice animal movements. Bethany Monk described how her 7-year-old son, Evan, would “frog walk” at home and imitate giraffes eating with their long tongues.

“We’ve had a lot of discussions about tigers and what they eat,” she said.

Evan said he enjoyed using circuits to make his puppet’s eyes glow different colors.

“I like putting them together,” he said.

Coding classes allowed the students to use ScratchJr software to make interactive stories for their animals. They collaborated to make movies with their puppets and backgrounds, using sounds and movements they learned in class.

“It’s to help them understand the habitats of the animals,” said parent Melinda Shelton.

Parents were impressed by how much their children learned through the project at such a young age.

“For a first-grader, I think it’s pretty fantastic how much extra information they got from this project,” parent Megan Andria said.

She was also impressed by how the whole school came together to collaborate on all aspects of the animals.

“I think it’s neat for them to see it’s not just science class,” she said. “It’s everything tied together.”

Vukmanic said the students were engaged by the hands-on approach to learning and creativity.

“It’s fun, and it’s hands on,” she said. “They’re making things and problem solving. They don’t realize how much they’re learning.”

Seven-year-old Isabella Tomlin learned about gorillas. She said they eat plants and fruit and “show their teeth when predators come and try to eat their babies.”

She said she was proud of her book of gorilla drawings, because it made her feel like an illustrator.

“I think I did a really good job,” she said. “When I grow up, I think I will be an illustrator and a researcher.”