Celebrate Literacy Month with the Night Zookeeper

Amy Rosenstein is a 3rd grade teacher in New York. She is a Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) Expert and Skype Master Teacher. Today she shares with us her students’ experience during a Skype call with the Night Zookeeper and their big and unforgettable surprise.

Being able to design animals and then write stories using just your imagination can be a dream-come-true for a seven-year-old. My second-grade students were given just this opportunity, as they were inspired to use their abundant creativity by the Night Zookeeper. The website allows students to use color and animation to create animals of the Night Zoo and then prompts them to write stories.

The Night Zookeeper experience

To kick off the experience, my students watched an upbeat and incredibly fun video about the Night Zoo. They then logged on to the Night Zookeeper website where they were given engaging directions to draw their animals and used them as part of the writing the Night Zoo encouraged them to do.

These New York residents had the time of their lives creating these animals as their imaginations ran wild. After exploring the site, they got a big surprise: they found out that they were going to have a Skype call with the Night Zookeeper himself!

Night ZookeeperThe day of the call finally came, and we met Night Zookeeper Buzz, live from England! He told us all about the Night Zoo and we took part in a Mystery Animal quest over Skype. We used our deductive reasoning and determined that the mystery animal was the Penguin Professor. Buzz then drew Professor Penguin live, right in front of us via Skype.

Night Zookeeper(Now a little background, and then the kicker: Two weeks prior, the kids in my class had completed a survey in which they were asked if they were to have any superpower, what it would be. Almost half the class answered “teleportation.” You can see where this is going.)

At the end of the Skype session, Night Zookeeper Buzz, asked the kids to ROAR as he held his torch. The kids ROARED, but nothing happened. Buzz said we had to try again and we did, louder and louder. Suddenly, the Skype call disconnected and in its place, Night Zookeeper Paul appeared IN PERSON in our classroom! He teleported from across the ocean! The kids were astonished. How could this be possible?

After about ten minutes of pure excitement and glee, Night Zookeeper Paul read us a chapter from Night Zookeeper and the Spying Giraffes. After this, students logged onto the website and Paul took us on a personal tour.

Night Zookeeper

The impact on my students

The experience was one that this group of seven-year-olds will never forget. They’ve been inspired to write and draw in a way that’s different than they’d had the chance to do in the past. They’ve chosen to create their Night Zoo animals and to continue writing after school and on the weekends, on their own. They’ve become motivated to take advantage of their natural creativity and make up stories and characters.

The experience combined literacy with geography, and speaking and listening, all important parts of today’s learning standards. These are skills that students will carry with them throughout their lives. What a way to learn!

Being able to have a Skype call with the Night Zookeeper was an unforgettable experience for this group of kids. Meeting Buzz and Paul was the icing on the cake and it has really taken their writing to a new level. Who knows what they’ll create next!

Night Zookeeper

A few quotes from my students

Nick: “It was the best Skype call ever because we played a lot of games like Mystery Animal .”

Grace: “The best part of writing on the Night Zookeeper website is that we get to take someone else’s animal drawing and write about it. It’s so cute!”

Fiamma: “It is amazing to use the Night Zookeeper website. You get to draw your own birds and name them and write about them.”

Zoe: “The Skype call was great! I loved it. We got to meet a real Night Zookeeper!”

Aahad: “It was EPIC because we got to meet a Night Zookeeper! I was so surprised that the Night Zookeeper just appeared in our class.”

Eden: “ I like the Night Zookeeper website because you can use your imagination.”

Aarav: “It was great. We called the zoo on Skype and then we all made the biggest roar ever. Then, guess what happened? A ZOOKEEPER CAME TO OUR CLASS! We were so surprised. He took us to the computer lab to do some work on the Night Zookeeper website. I liked collecting other people’s animals and making a story about those because it’s challenging.”

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Teachers: Join in on the fun and celebrate Literacy Month with Skype in the Classroom! Over 200 authors are waiting to hear from you! Invite them for a free live session in your classroom, or check out the Night Zookeeper sessions here.

Parents: Why not ask your school to get involved with Skype in the Classroom so your kids can experience the world live from their classrooms?

Authors/ illustrators / storytellers: To share your expertise and inspire the next generation, apply here to become a guest speaker.