Nonfiction Activities for Kids

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

It is so important for students to be able to read nonfiction with strong comprehension. This lesson offers activities that will help you get your students to be expert nonfiction readers.

Reading Nonfiction

In today's world, it is just as important for students to get to be strong readers of nonfiction as it is for them to learn to read in the first place. For one, students need to be able to read to learn; this means they need to read for information and to be able to discern the major ideas or arguments from the different texts they read.

Students also need practice reading critically; they are exposed to so much information that they need practice understanding what is or is not real and why. Teaching students to read nonfiction can be fun, especially if you keep your instruction active and engaging! The activities in this lesson will help your young students become empowered and strong nonfiction readers.

Pre-Reading Activities

Before students start reading a nonfiction text, these activities will help them activate and enhance the prior knowledge they will need to comprehend it.

K W L Chart

Ask your students what they already know about a topic and chart their ideas under the column headed 'K' on your chart. Students will learn from each other's expertise. Then, have them list questions about the topic. The questions, or what they 'want' to know, should go under the 'W' on your chart. Leave your chart up as students read; when they are finished, they can fill in the 'L' column with what they learned.

Visual Glossary

Choose ten to twenty vocabulary words that you think will really help your students understand the nonfiction passage they are about to read. Break students into small groups, and give each group the task of defining each word and creating an image to go along with it. The groups will end up with a visual glossary of terms they can then use to help them make sense of the text.

During Reading Activities

These are some activities you can use with students as they make their way through a nonfiction text.

Read, Reread, Think, Jot

Learning to take notes on nonfiction is a key skill for young students to master. Teach them the strategy of read, reread, think, and jot. This means that every time they read a nonfiction paragraph, they should:

  • read it once
  • read it again
  • think about what was important
  • jot down the important information in their own words

After students make three to four jots, have them compare with a partner to see if they chose the same important information.

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