Elementary English Language Arts, Science, Biology
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary
  • Lesson Plan
  • animal reports
  • animal-reports
  • filmmaking
  • sloth
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial
    Media Formats:

    Education Standards

    Animal Report Documentary Film

    Animal Report Documentary Film


    This project is designed to help students create a short documentary film using the information they gathered to create an animal report. It can be used after writing an animal report or can be adapted to be used as the actual animal report. 

    It can be designed to appear as a documentary series with all students having the same title opening, or be completely standalone. 

    Students will be learning to find creative commons photos and videos to use in their film. They will create their film using iMovie on their iPads. 

    Brown-Throated three-toed sloth female face.jpg- Wikimedia Commons


    This lesson takes students through making a "documentary" video of their animal report.

    The project will tabke about about 2 weeks if reports are already written.


    Background for Teachers

    Step 1 - Goals and Outcomes

    Step 1 Goals and Outcomes

    Learning Intentions:

    • Students will understand how to find appropriate pictures on the internet for their animal report movies.
    • Students will be able to create a documentary type film using iMovie to show their learning of the animal they researched for their animal report. 

    Success Criteria:

    • Students will create a storyboard
    • Students will find pictures that are Creative Commons to add to their movies
    • Students will use iMovie to create a short documentary about their animal using pictures from the internet and music/sound effects from iMovie. 


    Step 2 - Planning Instruction

    Step 2 Planning Instruction

    Student Background Knowledge

    • Prior to this lesson, students will need to have written an animal report with information on where the animal lives, what the animal eats, the description of the animal, the animal's predators and some fun facts. 
    • Students should have a basic understanding of using an iPad.


    Step 3 - Instruction

    Step 3 Instruction


    After students have completed their animal report, discuss storyboards and why they are important for film making. 

    Model taking your own animal report and putting the information into the script. Using their reports, have students write out the script they will be using. Check in with students. Are they separating their report into sections that make sense in the script?

    Script Template

    Day 2:

    Model creating a storyboard with students. Complete a few sections together. Students will create a story board. Have them write the parts of the script they want in the order they want on their storyboard. Then have them think about what kind of picture they will want to be in that shot. Check in with students to make sure the order they are choosing makes sense. 

    Storyboard Template

    Day 3: 

    Discuss Creative Commons and copywrite. Have students go online and teach them how to search just creative commons or give them an exact site that they can get pictures from to make it easier to cite at the end of their film. Students should try to find photos that match what they drew on their storyboards. 

    Have students write down or take a screen shot of the site where they get their photos for easier reference at the end of the project. 

    Day 4: 

    Show exemplar film. Teach students how to use iMovie by modeling how to creating a few scenes. For my students I will create the title and credit scenes for them to add into their video so there is consitency across the documentaries, like a series. Students will add in their own photo credits. 

    Day 5-10:

    Have students begin to create their film. Add pictures, music from iMovie, transitions and voice overs. 

    Day 11: 

    Help students create a citation slide to put at the end of their film.

    Day 12: Share films with a partner or 2 for review.

    Day 13-14: Showcase films with class. 

    Accomodations: You could pair students with the same animal to complet one film together.

    Extension: Students with more experience could create collages of their animal to add to their film. They could also add several pictures for one scene.


    Step 4 - Assessments

    Step 4 Assessments

    Documentary should include the teacher created title video and end credits. 

    Students should have a completed script and storyboard.

    Each scene in the video should have at least one photo or collage that follows the script.

    Music should be chosen from iMovie and be set at the appropriate volume for background or foreground sound.

    Voiceovers are done by the student.

    Film needs to include a citation slide for pictures/videos.

    Animal Report Documentary Rubric