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Learning Comes to Life in Kennedy Zoo


Learning Comes to Life in Kennedy Zoo


ROXBURY, NJ (March 29, 2017) – Third graders at Kennedy School took their learning of non-fiction and brought it to life on Wednesday in a Living Zoo for students in the school and visiting family and friends. 

Students in Ms. Tina Banta and Ms. Rebecca Szigeti’s classes each identified an animal to research and write about as part of their non-fiction writing unit. Many students chose their favorite animal to imitate and research. 

The classes worked on these non-fiction projects for close to two months during writing class while studying non-fiction in Reading Workshops. 

Szigeti shared, “We went to the Kennedy School Library and students found non-fiction books related to their animals. They used information from the books as well as the Internet to learn about their animal.” 

Each student then had to write a report about the animal including its habitat, physical characteristics, life cycle, food chain, and interesting facts. In addition, students practiced incorporating non-fiction text features into their reports which included a table of contents, glossary, diagrams, maps, photos, and captions. 

“This animal research project further prepares students for an upcoming science unit on Life Structures,” shared Szigeti. 

The Living Zoo then took shape at home. Students were asked to create a project that showed off their research. Some children did presentation boards while others created dioramas and diagrams. They were asked to create a costume or outfit as an added bonus to really show off their animal at the “zoo”. Students dressed as their animal of choice that ranged from dangerous carnivores to sea creatures to wild animals. 

Fellow Kennedy students and families were invited to the “zoo” to check out all the animals on display. Each student stood by their display and were asked a variety of questions from all in attendance to show off their newly acquired knowledge. 

Szigeti commented on the importance of sharing the students work and said, “Inviting families to attend events like this really creates a sense of community within our classroom and the school. The students spend a lot of their time here and they deserve to show off their hard work! Involving parents in the school and classroom community is linked to greater student achievement, and ultimately, that is the shared goal we all have for the children of Kennedy.” 

She went on to say, “By the students bringing their projects to the life, they enhance their ability to speak and listen. Students had to work hard to prepare the possible dialogue and conversations they would be having with the zoo guests. I think it gives the students a real sense of pride as they were able to become authors of their own non-fiction pieces and really take ownership over their learning.” 

Some students truly came to life acting out the mannerisms and sounds of the animals they selected like Caden Scire who shared what he learned about lions. Lily Phelan-Fonseca took her love of chimpanzees and brought in her stuffed animal collection to go along with her report and project. 

Szigeti hopes projects like this inspire her students with a love of learning and self-confidence as well as a solid understanding and foundation of non-fiction reading and writing. 

“Creating these projects, students become an expert on their animal, are able to share that knowledge with zoo guests, and leave feeling a huge sense of pride and accomplishment. It was apparent that they were proud of their work and felt successful as they stood up there representing their animal the day of the zoo.” 

Visitors were able to walk away with insight of the animals and the hard work the third graders display each and every day. 

“They are an amazing group of students and I know the visitors were able to see that based on the incredible work the students put together.” 

PHOTOS ATTACHED (courtesy of Roxbury Public Schools)

- Paul Hakkenberg and Caden Scire show off as a panther and lion at the Kennedy Living Zoo

- Therese Ohene-Ologo and Meghan Lockman explain the fox and koala at the Kennedy Living Zoo

- Katie Rittger knows her stuff when it comes to chinchillas

- Jack Scalfani presents interesting facts of elephants

- Cole Fedorchak shows off as a whale shark

- Juventino Torres is a sea turtle

- Taylor Gutowksi as the pink flamingo

- Pumas are popular and covered by Will Sullivan and Wyatt Glasser

- Sophia Pulido explains all about hummingbirds

- Kennedy Living Zoo Group Photo

- Lily Phelan-Fonseca shows off stuffed animal collection of chimpanzees

- Madelynn Anderson as an elephant

- Mia Amicucci knows her stuff when it comes to Angel Fish

- Ava Pennisi explains giraffes  

- Tyler Curtis on tigers 


For more information, contact: Roxbury Community Relations coordinator Ann Rhodes at or 973-584-7699.



Roxbury Public Schools is a K-12 school district preparing the children of today for tomorrow. As a dynamic and thriving district, in partnership with a supportive and collaborative community, Roxbury Public Schools inspires and empowers all learners to flourish as ethical and global citizens in the 21st century. The district serves students throughout Roxbury Township, New Jersey, including the areas of Landing, Kenvil, Succasunna, Ledgewood, Mount Arlington, Port Morris, Flanders, and Wharton. Connect with us online at or on Facebook at