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Elementary students connect to global community through Traveling Animals

From left, English Crossing Elementary fifth-grade students John Lough, Javier Miramontes, Jacob Mills and Levi Rogers prepare their plush stuffed kangaroo for the next six months of its travels around the world, by including an introduction card to their Traveling Animals project, as well as a hand-sewn backpack for their animal, containing a journal for each sender and receiver to fill out. -
From left, English Crossing Elementary fifth-grade students John Lough, Javier Miramontes, Jacob Mills and Levi Rogers prepare their plush stuffed kangaroo for the next six months of its travels around the world, by including an introduction card to their Traveling Animals project, as well as a hand-sewn backpack for their animal, containing a journal for each sender and receiver to fill out.
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LAKEWOOD Stuffed animals arent always used as learning tools, but for two classes of fifth-grade students at English Crossing Elementary, a veritable zoo of plush gorillas, bears, moose and kangaroos might bring the rest of the world a little bit closer to them.
ECE fifth-grade teachers Keith Hunter and Robert Adeline decided to have their students send the Traveling Animals out in the mail, before their schools Thanksgiving break, so that the family members, friends and even acquaintances of those students can, in turn, mail them to their own family members, friends and acquaintances, and on and on, until the animals requested return date of June 1, 2007.
Hunter, who had heard of a similar project taking place in Chicago-area schools, believes that the animals travels can teach the students about subjects such as geography, as they find all the cities, states and countries on the map where their animals will be sent, and mathematics, as they calculate the times and distances between each of the locations that their animals will visit, in addition to instilling a sense of global community in them.
To that end, each Traveling Animal comes complete with a hand-sewn backpack, containing a journal for each sender and receiver to fill out, as well as postal and e-mail addresses for the classes, so that all the people who pass along the animals can inform the classes of their whereabouts during the next six months, and possibly even get in touch with the students through letters or postcards.
It should really shrink the world for them, Hunter said. The students are sending these animals as far away as Alaska, Colorado, Illinois, Ohio and Rhode Island. I want these kids to see that theyre more connected to the rest of the globe than they might realize.
Hunter divided his class into groups of four students each, with each group being responsible for furnishing their animal with a backpack, a journal and an introduction card, informing the animals recipients of the classes project and contact information. While Hunters herd included three bears, two kangaroos and a moose, Adeline was able to divide his class into groups of two-to-three students each, by buying gorillas in bulk.
Gorillas are cute, cuddly, fuzzy and fun, said Adeline, who likewise noted that his zoo could look forward to being sent to addresses in Oregon, California, Utah, Kansas, Missouri and Pennsylvania. Were hoping for responses, and well see what happens.
Adelines students boxed up their nine gorillas Nov. 21, while Hunters class mailed away their own animals Nov. 22.

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