I'm sure many of you already may use this activity with your students, but for those of you who don't, I just wanted to pass on a successful lesson with Horse Breeds that I used with my 8th Grade Exploring the World of Agriculture Class. I borrowed a bunch of horse breed books from my county and school library and then had my students spend a day looking through the books to choose a breed they were interested in. Then we talked about how to write a business letter (reinforcing academic standards of language arts). We went to the media center (library and computers) in school where students researched the mailing address and prepared a letter to the breed association of their choice (No two students could do the same breed.) Make sure they include in the letter how many students are in the class. Some associations will send enough "goodies" for all class members. After their letters were typed, we did a peer review of the letters, made corrections and mailed them. We sent them on February 5 and by February 20, all but three of my students had responses.
I held on to the mail as it came in and then we did "Mail Call" this Wednesday. Students were given their responses and got to open them up and see what was inside. After spending about 10 minutes looking over their packages, students were called to the front to share with their classmates what they had received, two interesting facts they learned, and distribute materials that they may have gotten enough of to share. Any posters they received were used to create a bulletin board in the back of the class. Since my 7th graders are starting their animal science unit, the 8th grade display became a talking piece for the 7th grade class.
In terms of "exciting" responses with goodies for the class to share, the two I would rank as top choices are American Paint Horse and Shetland Ponies.