We’ve begun learning to read and create non-fiction. We are doing this with discernment. I am using the kids’ interests as a springboard to discovery. We began the process by checking out

My writing group friends Tara at A Teaching Life, Margaret at Reflections on the Teche, and Julieanne at To Read To Write To Be told me about how they use Wonderopolis and I was intrigued to see how I could make it work in my room. So I used a simple form designed by Tara and tweaked by me to help kids gather their information from Wonderopolis. I allowed them choice but explained that not everything they’ve ever wondered about will be on there and they must find something on their. This helps with my limited amount of time. Free reign to the Internet to gather info about a wonder would take my 2nd through 5th graders a very long time. The first day amazed me. They had such focus and didn’t waste time. They understood what I was asking and went right to it. They studied wonders ranging form dolphin echolocation to Rubik’s Cube. They were able to share using their notes. It was very effective.
During our next meeting, I talked about how much better non-fiction is when it is enfolded in a story. We discussed how human beings love stories and how we remember facts so much better when the facts are carried on the shoulders and under the arms of stories. Then I read
This book is written by a Zoologist and is a story about a girl who doesn’t like snakes. Her snake loving family is interspersed with amazing and well-organized true facts about snakes. This sparked a great discussion about how to join the two.
The third day, the kids came in to find big pieces of white paper at their table spots. I projected this video from Art Hub for Kids which is an amazing site run by an artist and his children. I highly recommend it because kids aren’t used to drawing unless they love it and they tend to say they can’t do it. However non-fiction is very visual as well and begs the interwoven quality of text and images. If I am to teach true non-fiction, I need to share how they are both necessary.

After drawing and coloring this frog, we brought up this Wonderopolis page called Can Frogs Freeze?

We read it through and discussed vocabulary and then the kids wrote the facts that interested them the most. This was a great lesson which was accomplished start to finish in a 45 minute period. The kids were so proud of their work and are beginning to understand how to start looking at non-fiction so that they will be able to create it as move forward in the quarter.