In the spring of 2011, I read aloud to my students The Lion King. This heartwarming story of life and death on the Serengeti Plain in Tanzania captivated us all through its vivid descriptions of the setting, its character development of the animals, and its universal theme of the inevitable "Circle of Life" all living creatures must face.
What surprised us was the number of true facts contained within this fictional story. The students separated factual content from fiction as I read the story, and then researched varying aspects of the Serengeti ecosystem to see if they were correct, and what other information they could learn. They've summarized their information in online posters, called "Glogs". You can view them by scrolling down this page. [Note to my fourth graders. Some of you forgot to put your name on your Glog. If you tell me which one is yours I’ll add your name.]
The information they learned and shared with me was very helpful to me. Having that background knowledge helped me have a greater understanding and appreciation for what I was seeing while on safari on the Serengeti. In addition, they asked many questions that I was to ask while on safari. These, in turn, helped enrich my experience. I have used their questions and ideas to help guide the creation of the Safari Blog. Their new background knowledge also motivated the students to want to experience the movie and theater versions of The Lion King. Comparing these different art forms, by the way they were able to tell the same story, added another element to their learning.