Our animal investigation officially started in Feb when I asked the children what they know about animals. But it really started before that. This is a class of animal lovers. Last fall there was a lot of play surrounding the “stuffies,” most of which were cats. We took care of them, created a stuffy clubhouse for them in our loft, and even made our own stuffies. Animal play continued and I brought in a lot of animal toys and we created a vet office. Soon, their love for animal play was more “whole body.” That is, they wanted to be animals—mostly cats and dogs, with the occasional “teenage cheetah.” Springboarding off this love of animals, I decided to embark on an animal investigation. The first step was discussing what we already know about animals. Next we thought about ways in which we could learn more. As with any investigation, there are multiple ways to proceed. We could have learned about animals in general (mammals vs. reptiles, habitats, etc.), and we did a little of that. But what the children wanted to talk most about was their favorite animals, so we listed our favorites and decided everyone would learn about all the favorites together. While our favorites list leaned heavily on mammals, it was a nice variety with one reptile and a mollusk thrown in as well. Now the question became, how to learn about these favorites? We decided to get some books about each favorite animal. Off to the library I went. The day I came with books about everyone’s favorite was such an exciting day! We poured over them, soaked them in, and shared them with each other. Then, On Feb. 28th, we started learning about our first animal—turtles! Initially I thought we’d learn about a new animal each day, getting through our list in just a few short weeks. But it became clear that learning about each individual animal delivered such joy: joy in the discovery (turtles don’t have teeth!), joy in sharing knowledge (did you know, cheetahs have grips on their paws!), joy in hypothesizing (I think coyotes have bushy tails so they can wack predators), and joy in extending our learning into our other languages (songs/dances, artwork, etc.). So, we took our time exploring each and every favorite. We learned facts about the animals, we noticed the animals' bodies, we documented them through drawing, we re-created them through art, we became them through movement and dance. We noticed similarities and differences (lots of similarities in the cat family!) But something was missing—with all investigations I undertake with children I feel it is important to see the subject first hand. Where would we go to see animals? The zoo was suggested, but unfortunately, we don’t have one in Iowa City. And then, someone said, “I know, there’s a museum with dead animals (they still have their skin and fur, we were assured) in Iowa City!! ” And so, the letter was written and sent to the “Museum People” from the “human children at Preucil Preschool.” The response came back that yes, we could go, but we’d have to wait a few weeks. We made a calendar and counted down the days. We made plans about how to get there (the city bus!). And then the day finally arrived. 21 human 5-day children and 15 friends from the other class boarded the city bus and made our way to the museum. We split into small groups and each group took their time to look at the animals, to notice the animals, to see the details. Our weeks of study had prepared us to not just walk by, but to stop and look—really look—at the whiskers on the walrus, the hooves on the buffalo, the spots on the peacock tail, the shape and length of the monkey tail. We documented what we saw through drawings. We discussed with our groups, and later as a whole class, what we saw, what we noticed. And then, just like that, our animal study was over. We have a wealth of knowledge about animals that we didn’t have before. It’s hard to say how long those facts will be remembered. But what I hope will carry through into future school years is the joy we felt with the discovery, the surprise as we turned each page in our books to find out something new, the wonder we felt as we looked up at the enormous walrus. It’s never about the destination, it’s always about the journey.