Research: Teaching Kids to Read and Write about Nonfiction

Getting ready to research? Check out this post for great tips and feebies to support you in this project.

If you brainstorm with your students topics they are interested in, chances are an animal of some sort will be part of the list. Animal research is honestly fascinating for adults too. It seems I always learn something new in helping my students, but the most important reason to include research into your curriculum is that in doing so, we teach students how to use nonfiction text features to better comprehend nonfiction texts to grasp the main idea.’

Today, I’m featuring two products and tips from Sandy at Sweet Integrations and Melissa at Teacher Treasure Hunter. I just love these sets as they really tap into kids’ interests and yet scaffold the instruction to teach them how the research process works. As students work through the process, other reading skills are included as well including main idea/details, text features, determining importance, and fact and opinion. As writers, students learn how paragraphs are organized with a topic sentence, supporting detail sentences, and a closing, and how paragraphs come together to explain in depth. Here are a few research tips from me you might consider as you dig into your research paper writing experience:

  • First, make the assignment clear and share why researching is important. List the information sources they are expected to learn to use. 
  • Model with anchor papers what is expected and demonstrate with a class paper how to conduct research. 
  • If you’re using the internet, use caution to make sure searching is safe. 
  • Outline the steps in a checklist to keep your kids organized and provide due dates for each section. 
  • Use self evaluations to help students monitor their own progress. 
  • Consider researching as a group to support struggling readers or first timers. 
  • Preselect resources as a way to get students started.

Penguins research

If you’re looking for a great product to use this winter, Sandy’s set, Penguins Research and Activities, has many options included to make it a bit easier on the teacher. In her product, students research using QR codes, a Penguin mini book, an interactive Jeopardy game, a board game, fact sheets, and she’s included all kinds of graphic organizers to give the teacher options. You can see a full preview using [this link]. Here are Sandy’s recommendations for researching:

Before I start a research unit with my students, I always discuss credible online resources. I usually provide the class with a website evaluation rubric that we complete together. We look at lots of examples. (good and bad)

We discuss these questions:

  • Who is providing this information? (is it an expert, what do we know about the author or organization)
  • Is the information accurate?
  • Is the information up-to-date? (look to see when the site was last updated)
  • Is there bias? (are they trying to make you think their way or just providing factual information)
  • Is it professional?
  • Is the design of the site easy to read?
  • Is it copyrighted?

For younger students, we go over this information as a group. For their research, I usually provide websites for them so they arenโ€™t spending all of their time searching. I love using QR Codes. Students can just scan the QR code and go straight to the website. Our school also subscribes to great online databases that are excellent for research projects.

ocean animals research

The second set, Ocean Animals Research Papers, from Melissa at Teacher Treasure Hunter is another that will keep your kids’ interest peaked. I enjoyed using this set as we got closer to summer (when we had beach trips in mind). Melissa has selected 21 different animals, written up fact sheets on them, and prepared the materials needed to guide the kids with researching. I love the animal choices…leafy sea dragon, Japenese spider crab, and saltwater shrimp are a few of the unique options. Melissa’s teaching tip for every day is…

Put themed worksheets into binders and use binders for holidays and monthly themes. It helps so much to have everything in one place. Just pull out the binder and go!

Melissa at Teacher Treasure Hunter

polar animals research

In addition to these two great products from my bloggy friends, I am also including the Arctic Animals Close Reading Sets in my store. Close reading strategies really help students develop the ability to analyze text for importance and pull out the big ideas. I love using this strategy to help students better think about their reading, and since the articles are one page, it’s easy to pace lessons to include time for discussion and writing.

Now, on to the freebies for today…
These gals all have freebies to share with you too.  Click below to check them out.

Freebie from Me

In addition to these animal research freebies from Sandy and Melissa, I am sharing this research report writing set. It includes step by step planning that you can use with animal topics, states, history events, or even famous people.

Other posts you might like:

I hope you found these tips helpful. Thanks for dropping by.


Carla is a licensed reading specialist with 27 years of experience in the regular classroom (grades 1, 4, and 5), in Title 1 reading, as a tech specialists, and a literacy coach. She has a passion for literacy instruction and meeting the needs of the individual learner.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Thank you, Carla for sharing my research product about Penguins. Glad to be beside Melissa.

  2. @Sweet Integrations – LOL! I was thinking the same thing when I saw the post — I'm so happy to be featured with you and Carla — you're the best! Thank you both for all the great tips and I can't wait to go check out your freebies. I can't get enough of these nonfiction resources and materials! Thank you!

  3. Thank you for featuring my product & freebie on your blog today. I love all the tips for research that you included!

Comments are closed.