Skeletons and Non-Fiction Text Features

This week we are kicking off our Animals Unit….which means that, among other *amazing* things happening in our room, we get to add the groovin’ Bee Gees song to our list of brain breaks! 😉

Our animals unit is all about using non-fiction texts to learn information.  We study non-fiction text features, main idea and detail, informative writing, asking informed questions, and we manage to learn about animals and the human body {from our state’s science standards} along the way!  Gotta love literacy-based science integration!

Non-Fiction Text Features: Labels

We talked about two non-fiction text features: photographs and labels.  We really have been talking about photographs since the beginning of the year, and working on that during guided reading, so this time we focused mostly on labels.

I introduced labels and showed them the label “bubble” that goes with our chart.  Then, I asked them to help us label me.  I had volunteers that labeled my head, leg and hand with sticky notes.  Then, as a quick reinforcing activity, I had them partner up and label each other with 3 sticky notes.  This literally took 10 minutes or less, but they LOVED it!  They were so engaged, really trying to sound out words so they could write the words and label their friend, and they had a BLAST!  Plus, it was a great “learning brain break” since we had been sitting on the carpet and were going to have to sit to read our story some more!

Once we had labeling down, we read the non-fiction book on bones from this **awesome** scholastic series:

It was the perfect book because it’s about the skin AND bones.  No, I’m not crazy.  I know we weren’t learning about the skin Monday.  But we had just discussed and charted that non-fiction books do not have to be read in order and you don’t have to read the whole book.  So, we used the table of contents and found only the parts on bones and skipped the rest!  As we read, I had the kids listen for information from the text that they learned about bones.  They also helped me watch for labels in our text and loved pointing them out to me!

We stopped after each section and did a think-pair-share on information they learned.  At the beginning of non-fiction, I always have to stress how the information they share must come from the text.  That’s a BIG deal in Common Core.  And it’s hard sometimes for first graders.  They want to share what they know {or think they know} about the topic. So as each person shared information, I asked, “Did that come from ____’s head or from the text?”  When they answered, “From the text,” we had to prove it!  So we turned in the book and read the sentence(s) together that taught us that detail or information.  This has been a huge shift with Common Core over the last few years, but I think it’s definitely for the better.  Not only is it a deeper understanding of the text, but it is also very engaging. First graders get very lively when trying to prove something they learned actually came from the text….and this teacher might just be guilty of throwing out the ole, “I think you just made that up.  I don’t remember reading about that…”  Gets ’em good.  Every. Time.

Bones Shared Research

Back on track…We charted our research….

Labeling Skeletons

Then, they each assembled their own skeleton and we practiced our labeling skills.  We used words and arrows to label our skeleton.  My favorite bone to label is ribs.  That’s because I get to tell my sweet firsties that I have an extra pair of ribs.  Yes, you read that right.  I have 13 pairs of ribs…not 12.  I found this out because of some severe numbing and pain I was having in my arm and fingers.  I had surgery when I was a teenager to remove one of the ribs.  So now, I’m an even weirder person with an odd number of ribs.  Go figure.  They absolutely love that story and year after year, it’s one of my favorites to tell!

The rest of this week and next we will continue to research other organs and muscles from our body.  We will be learning about the brain, heart, lungs, stomach, intestines, kidneys and muscles!  And we will be learning about more non-fiction text features along with our content!  I can’t wait and the kids are literally on pins and needles too.  This unit is hands down a winner in my classroom every year!

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