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Lesson Plan

Using Science Texts to Teach the Organizational Features of Nonfiction

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Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Three to five 40-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Emily Manning

Emily Manning

Denton, Texas


International Literacy Association



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



Science captures even the most reluctant readers and writers. Students are naturally drawn to the colorful photographs and layouts of nonfiction science texts. This lesson supports students in grades 3–5 as they explore the organizational features of nonfiction texts, such as labels, captions, headings, fonts, and so on. Students then have an opportunity to work together with their classmates to create a two-page spread using those features to present information about their local environment (as gathered for the Square of Life Internet project). This resource includes links to student and teacher materials and to related websites. Several pieces of literature appropriate for use with this lesson are suggested.

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Square of Life: Studies in Local and Global Environments (collaborative Internet project): Using this helpful website, your students will investigate their local environment, share their information with other students around the country, and use the information they gathered and submitted online to create their two-page spread.

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Collard, S.B. (2003). Using science books to teach literacy—And save the planet. The Reading Teacher, 57(3), 280–283.

  • Compared to 20 years ago, informational books are now considered literature and can be used for teaching reading and writing skills. Nonfiction writers employ writing techniques, similar to fiction, to make the content subject matter more accessible to students.

  • Children's science books offer great examples of writing organization. Authors often use a two-page spread to provide a topical approach to the subject.

  • Science books allow teachers to meet their reading and writing goals while filling a need to teach more science.


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