Animal characters are present in children’s lives from the very beginning on toys, books, and cartoons. Children soon learn to associate animals with comfort, play, and safety. When animals are personified, children readily understand and apply the lessons and messages from the animals. Our extensive research in animal assisted therapy along with our classroom experiences were the inspiration to creating our magical world of Astute Hoot filled with endearing animal characters to help children learn critical reading, writing and math characters.
At the start of each school year, I dress up as Hazel Hoot and read our introductory books to our students: Hazel Meets the Reading Strategy Friends, Hazel Meets the Math Strategy Friends, Hazel Meets the Writing Strategy Friends. Students are instantly hooked and can’t wait to meet each strategy animal in upcoming lessons. They get really into the read aloud and ask me questions about my roost and my animal friends such as “Who is your favorite animal friend?”, “How far did you fly from your roost?” and “Can you take letters from our class to the forest to give to the animals?”.
My students’ favorite activities are using Sally Sounding-Out Snake and Charlie Chunking Chipmunk during our word study. Using these tools not only add much needed visual support, but also dramatically increase motivation and engagement. This is so important when using systematic phonics intervention programs as they can easily become monotonous.
Just recently I was doing a fact assessment. I always remind students to double-check their answers, but they rarely do. I got out my Fiona Fact Fluency Fox puppet and had Fiona remind the kids about double-checking and what do you know, they all double-checked their answers. They listen to Fiona’s reminders more readily than mine!
As you can see, our strategy animals anchor the classroom. Our students LOVE meeting each new character and consistently use their strategies in whole group, small group and even independent work! Many parents even report learning about the strategy animals from their children at home too!
Meet all of our strategy animals here! Bring the magical world of Astute Hoot to your classroom too by downloading our comprehensive strategy units from our TPT store or directly from our website: Reading, Math, Writing.
As you can see, our animals are a hit with our students! Do you use animals in your classroom? We’d love to hear about it! Please comment below.