The delighted squeals from both children and pigs could be heard at Cunningham Elementary School on Wednesday morning for the school’s “Pig Day.” The event, which was spearheaded by the school’s second grade teachers, was created to help students better engage with Common Core State Standards.
“The second grade teachers wanted to add more meaning and relevance to their math and writing lessons,” said Principal Tami Truax. “We are just trying to bring learning to life and make it fun.”
In order to help students advance their writing skills, teachers gave them an opportunity to gain firsthand knowledge about the subject they were required to write about. Not only were students able to have fun and play with the pigs, they were also able to garner their own observations and notes for the following writing activity.
Students then reconvened in the classroom to distinguish their findings between facts and opinions. Once they successfully classified their information into the two categories, they were required to write an opinion paragraph about whether or not a pig would make a good pet.
“As far as realia goes, the pigs helped create a better understanding in order to create a factual piece,” said second grade teacher Amanda Avila. “The hands-on experience is just a huge bonus, rather than just looking at a picture of a pig in a book.”
With this activity, students successfully addressed the CCSS writing objective that states that students should be able to write opinion pieces in which they state an opinion and provide reasons that support their argument.
Teachers also incorporated the pigs into their math lessons, encouraging students to use pig feed as manipulatives to help them develop effective addition and subtraction strategies. With the visual assistance of the pellets, students solved one step word problems relating to pigs and other farm animals.
This activity helped students better understand the CCSS math objective that states that students will use addition and subtraction to solve one- and two-step word problems. To fully address this objective, students are encouraged to use drawings and equations to represent the problem.
The pigs’ presence at Cunningham not only pleased teachers, but students as well. Students thoroughly enjoyed interacting with the pigs and it was evident that their enthusiasm carried into the following activities.
“It helped me learn better and I really liked the pigs,” said second grader Marissa Huesca.
“I think playing with the pigs will make it easier for me to write about them,” said second grader Brayden Getty. “I really liked the pigs because they dug a lot. They remind me of my brother because he digs a lot too.”