Nowhere to go but up!

Okay, so you know absolutely nothing about hamsters. How do you start? Well, let's start with the basics and look at the simplest question:

Most questions can be answered with either basic observation or basic search skillls within the suggested websites. Occasionally the websites offer differing, or even contradictory, information. This is usually more due to webmaster opinions rather than factual differences. If this situation is encountered, the students may require some explanation or exploration of the topic from youto see the relative arguments clearly and to decide on an answer.

Some of the sites are not specifically for a third grade audience, and so may contain vocabulary that's beyond the students' level. None of the concepts should be incomprehensible to them, however.

The amount of time taken by this WebQuest depends largely on the amount of discussion that you want in the class, or how much hands-on experience the students will have with a hamster. It could conceivably take as little as 2-3 periods or as much as a couple of weeks.

While elements such as ecology, financial management, animal husbandry, or geography aren't implicit in this WebQuest, there is certainly room to include them in various places.

All "back" links on checklists in this section lead back to the student's Process page.

What is a hamster?

Is it a reptile? An amphibian? An insect? A bird? A mammal? A fish? How do you know? This is an important thing to know if you want to make a home your new hamster will be proud to live in.

First step: What is a hamster?

Have a good look at a hamster, and make some notes on what they look like, and what their bodies are like.

If having a real hamster in the classroom is out of the question, having one or more good-quality colour photos or posters would work nearly as well. You will have to give the students the answer to the warm/cold question in this case.

You can use this checklist for your notes:

When you finish that, you can come back here for the. . . .

Second step: Hamster lifestyles

This step is a little more difficult than the last one. You have to take what you learned in the first step and decide which option is the best.

You probably noticed that I left out the whole "sexual reproduction" part of the baby hamster issue. I felt this was an area that should be decided by each individual teacher for their own particular class and situation. Good luck!

You can use this worksheet for your answers:

When you finish that, you can come back here for the. . . .

Third step: Hamster history

Now that you're a bit more familiar with hamsters, let's find out a bit more about what they do, how they act, and where they come from.

This would be a great place to bring out a map and let the students see the different places in the world that the different species of hamster come from.

This section has no specific opportunity to sythesize the information learned in the checklist section, so you might want to include some class discussion to make up for this; or not, your choice.

You can use this checklist for your notes:

When you finish that, you can come back here for the. . . .

Final step: Happy hamster home!

Here's where you get to use everything you've learned. You know all about hamsters - where they live, what they eat, what they like, and what they don't like. Now use all that knowledge to build your new hamster a perfect home!

The shopping sites are well-organized, but rather large. You might find that some students will tend to wander into irrelevant areas and will need to be guided back on track.

You could also add a financial twist to this section by having the students keep track of the cost of what they plan to buy and discussing why some things cost so much more than others that look nearly the same.

You can use this worksheet for your answers: