My second graders are currently reading The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate with their classroom teacher and I wanted to amp up excitement about the book.
Initially, I had intended to simply put up the cover of the book and add some interesting facts about the real Ivan. Wait, Ivan was real? He sure was. Check out the Katherine Applegate’s webite, she has a great deal of information about the real Ivan. She also has a new book coming out in October 2014 – Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla.
In true librarian form, the more research I did, the more excited I got about the One and Only Ivan bulletin board. I ended up with a slew of facts about not only the real Ivan, but about the gorilla population, as a whole. I also added an (almost) life-size cut out of a gorilla. The paper gorilla ended up being 5’4″ with an arm span of 8 feet.
I used an overhead projector to trace the gorilla and then free-hand cut his face out of a piece of gray construction paper.
The board has been up for two days now and people have constantly been coming in to share their excitement! I love watching the kiddos stand there and reading all the interesting facts, it has been far more engaging than I ever anticipated. The facts include:
- The average male gorilla stands between 5 and 7 feet.
- The arm span of an average male gorilla is almost 9 feet!
- The average male gorilla eats over 40 pounds of food per day, the average American person eats 5-6 pounds of food per day.
- Gorillas are herbivores – they eat leaves, shoots, roots, vines and fruits.
- The lifespan of an average male gorilla is 35 years. Ivan lived to be 50 years old.
- There are 4 subspecies of gorillas: Eastern lowland, Mountain, Western lowland, Cross River.
- Gorillas are an endangered species, there are less than 300 Cross River gorillas left in the world.
- The One and Only Ivan is fictional, but was inspired by a true story.
- Ivan was a male Western lowland gorilla.
- Ivan was captured in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo.
- Ivan and (what is believed to be) his sister were captured as infants and brought to the United States. Ivan’s sister died shortly after arriving.
- Ivan was raised in a home until he became too big and unmanageable. He was moved to the B&I Circus Store in Tacoma, Washington.
- Ivan’s cage in Tacoma was only 40 feet by 40 feet!
- Ivan spent 27 years alone in his cage without seeing another of his kind.
- When the mall where Ivan lived went bankrupt (they didn’t have any money), he was moved to the Zoo Atlanta. Before his move to Atlanta, Georgia, Ivan spent a short time at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle.
I did include a citation sheet on my bulletin board so I could model that behavior for students. I found my information on the following sites: