There are many ways you might know that nonfiction titles are important and well utilized in our classroom.
First of all, there are the visual clues. Some are organized by me – like our new book shelf full of titles on display that I have recently read or book talked. We add books here frequently and then switch them out and make room for more. Some live here for a while because they are very popular and students want to be able to find them easily. Some live here for just a little while – they are added when a reference comes up in a discussion for those students who want to read more. Centipedes came out when I read about a centipede in a silly poem and we talked about how many legs a centipede actually has and whether or not it was an insect. We talked about the word gnaw in word work and someone talked about how beavers and rats gnaw on things. I put a book about beavers on display. Fantastic Feet was a book by Melissa Stewart that I bought for the classroom recently. Lots of kids read it and started talking about animal feet and then animal tracks. We added books on these topics.
You can see how this shelf is well used!
We have a shelf like this for fiction titles too. 🙂
We also display book titles we have read with key words used so we can refer to them later. I keep a list of words on a sticky note on the inside cover as we read. These are great for those few minutes of waiting for announcements or when lining people up. For example,
“Think back to the book Salmon Creek, who remembers what an estuary is. Tell the person beside you and then we’ll take answers.”
Some proof of our nonfiction love is highlighted by the students who find connections in the titles they are reading and want to share. This child thought that the African landscape in the book Giraffes was similar to the dry land in San Diego when Kate Sessions (from the book The Tree Lady) arrived in this seaside town and was shocked by the lack of trees.
These boys were very excited to find blue footed boobies in two different nonfiction titles.
But you would also know that we are a class who loves nonfiction titles because we have so many nonfiction read alouds “on the go”. Walk into our room throughout the day and you might find us engaged with a nonfiction text. Currently we are reading pages from . . .
Math Appeal: Mind Stretching Riddles by Greg Tang Illustrated by Harry Briggs
My students love to try and solve a few of these riddles right after recess as we are waiting for students to get to the carpet. It’s great motivation to be on time!
If you aren’t familiar with Tang’s books, check out a sample page on his website.
Another math title we have on the go is Lifetime: The Amazing Numbers in Animals’ Lives written by Lola Schaefer and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal
I read a page at a time and we try and come up with all of the questions we would need to ask to figure out how the statement was made. Lots of gathering of information via question asking. For example, we just learned that a kangaroo has 50 joeys in her lifetime. We came up with these questions:
- How many joeys does she have at one time? Single birth? Twins? More?
- How long do kangaroos live?
- How old is a kangaroo when she can have babies?
- How many babies does one kangaroo have in a year?
The detailed information in the back of the book gives us all of the answers and then we figure out the math!
Time to Sleep by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page
We read this book every Thursday between Word Work and Reading Workshop. I read about the animal featured on the page and then ask the children to predict or infer to answer questions about the creature we are talking about. There is additional information about each animal in the back of the text. For example, we just read about how the flamingo stands on one leg to conserve energy. After we talked about how this is vastly different from the way we sleep, I then asked the children what they think flamingoes eat, where in the world we might find them and how tall they think they are. After they discussed their ideas with their turn and talk partners, I read the information in the back of the book. Listening for specific information is practiced as I share additional details.
Eye to Eye: How Animals See The World by Steve Jenkins
This is our current nonfiction read aloud that we are reading in depth. We are talking lots, learning lots of new vocabulary and writing some quick summaries of our learning. Our favourite thing? Getting out our rulers and figuring out the actual size of each creature depicted on the page! In the back there is information about the size of each animal talked about. We love predicting and comparing.
“Who thinks a garden snail is smaller than 10 cm or larger than 10 cm? Get ready to mark its length on your ruler . . . Here is its length: ______”
Nonfiction read alouds are never rushed in our classroom. They are springboards for further learning and discussion. When a book is finished, it has become part of our shared knowledge and who we are as learners.
Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2014. Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction books you need to read!
My goal is to read 65 nonfiction picture books for 2014. Progress: 132/65 complete! More than double my original goal!