I'll admit it- I was that elementary teacher that made all kids read and write fiction. Fiction. And, in the back of the room, there was always that one little third grader whose face would fall when I announced another fiction writing exercise because what really needed to come out of my mouth was non-fiction, informational text, research, writing about real things.
There's a back story to this one- that goes all the way to my third-grade classroom a few years ago! So, let's get started!
So, here's the back story!
Many years ago we subscribed to a fabulous weekly magazine called Time for Kids. We loved it! Before we began our weekly reading I would have the kids go through and mark the text features with a sharpie. They followed me as I marked the features using my Elmo and projector. Then we would go back through and determine what the text features were and their purpose. We also read the articles and I sometimes made comprehension sheets for them.
Then one day I thought,
"Wow! I wish the magazine articles were topical!"
I mean, wouldn't it be great if we were studying about rocks and minerals and opened the magazine and found a story about volcanoes.....Hmmmmm.... so I invented that!
Rocks and Minerals and Volcanoes!
So, here's my rocks magazine set! It has three pages of articles to read which includes the rock cycle, how rocks are made, volcanoes, maps, glossary sections, bold words, colored print, photos, illustrations, diagrams, and more. Gorgeous graphics, great color, and there's even more.
I also made task cards for different things! One set is all about the text features- kids determine what the feature is and also its purpose. The text features are marked with alphabet letters. The second set of task cards is all about comprehension. The questions are taken from the articles included with the "magazine" templates. The third set of task cards is open-ended. The tasks are things students complete on their own. Example: Look at the three ways rocks are made. Draw a table showing this. Or: Draw and label your own version of the rock cycle. Fabulous! Kids are engaged with the colorful "magazine" and the task cards keep them busy as they search for the text features and read the selections.
So, remember back a paragraph or two ago when I mentioned that I made comprehension sheets for our magazine articles? Another one of those teacher things we all do. Now, there is a place for those "worksheets", but I really believe the task card sets get the same point across and are so much more fun!
So, this Rocks and Minerals set was the first one and then I found these great graphics and it just happened to also be....
Are you ready for Shark Week?
Shark Week! I love the clip art I found for this one. The reading selections are about shark attacks (of course), which sharks attack, sizes of sharks, shark teeth, gentle sharks, and more.
See those shark teeth in the photo? Those are photos I took using my collection of shark teeth. Many years ago my husband and I lived near Ponte Vedra Beach in Florida and we always found dozens of shark teeth when we walked along the coast. Seriously, in about 30 minutes we would find 20 shark teeth- in all sizes. I still have them in a jar in my study.
Anyway, this set of task cards has some fabulous features. My favorite open-ended task for this set is for kids to design their own Trivia Poster- and I just happened to include three of these in the package! Total fun!
Brrr.....do you need something for cold weather time?
Next up was a study of penguins which led to a discussion of which animals lived in the Arctic and which in the Antarctic. At that time I had also just finished reading a book called Icebound. It's an incredible story of the scientists that live and work on Antarctica and the things I learned from that book were part of our classroom discussions about penguins.
The magazine set I made for this topic included the Arctic animals, too! The articles are about where the polar regions are, scientists that work in those regions, specific animals that live in the regions, and size comparisons of some of the animals. Here's a link to the book I read- which was fascinating:
Do you remember the first moon landing? I do!
I have tackled this topic with kids so many times. I still remember where I was on the date men first walked on the moon and relaying this story to kids is fun! I actually have the original newspaper articles from our hometown newspaper! It is great fun to get those out and share the pages and incredible photos with students.
The "magazine" reading selections I made for this topic are the Solar System, the planets, how astronauts live in space, specific information about Saturn, planet comparisons, and more! Do you know the word used for a small moon? (Moonlet) Kids love this one!
Knee bone connected to the ankle bone...
This one was easy to invent because we had a 6-week study for this topic in Alabama! Our state has a math and science initiative called AMSTI and the state (and our school system) provides us with science kits that last 6-8 weeks. Each kit comes with all the materials you need for the hands-on science study. Human Body was a popular third-grade kit and it included learning about the skeleton.
So, of course, I made magazine reading selections about bones! The reading includes what bones are made of, what bones do, how many bones different animals have, info about some specific bones (like the tiny ones in our ears), numbers of bones in certain areas (like the hand has 27 bones), and more! Our favorite open-ended task was making a graph of the numbers of bones in different animals!
So, there you go! Some spectacular ways to add reading, writing, and text features to your science topics! And, maybe some really clever ways to explore those text features without worksheets.
As I was recently updating these products I had a lovely assistant that helped me with editing!
Click on any of the images to see these Text Feature sets in more detail!
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