Fun Activity for Informational Text

 Fun with Informational Text
Students love Informational Text.  This true and false facts activities is a fun way for students to explore informational text.

Third-graders are in love with learning.  They’re fascinated with everything around them; worms, rocks, space stories, prehistoric animals, just about everything.  That’s one of the reasons, eight and nine-year-olds are such fun.

It’s at this age that students begin to read to learn instead of just learn to read.  One thing I always made sure was plentiful in my classroom was informational text.  For every science or social studies unit I checked out tons of books from our school or local library so the kids could have lots of resources close by.

One of my favorite activities with informational text is True and False Facts. It’s super simple.  Students can work on their own or with a partner.  

  • Let them choose a nonfiction (informational) text.  It can be from a collection of books on a topic you’re studying or one on a topic they choose.
  • As they read the book, they jot down interesting facts.
  • Encourage them to collected 15-20 facts.

  • Next, have them change five of these true facts into false facts.  This can be done by changing one small thing about the fact.  For example, if the fact mentions a location, they can change it to a different, false, location.  

        True:  Mt. Everest is the tallest mountain in Asia.

         False:  Mt. Everest is the tallest mountain in Europe.

  • Now they have five false facts and 10-15 true facts.  Write the true and false facts on separate cards.
  • Students exchange fact cards and sort them into true/false stacks.  
  • To strengthen research skills, keep the book with the fact cards.  That way, students can find the evidence for the true and false facts in the text while they sort the cards.

This activity is part of my Informational Text Tool Box. It's packed with everything you need to teach your students how to use informational text. Click on the image to check out this amazing resource.

Informational Text Tool Box, everything you need to teach students how to use informational text.


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Class Journals Are Just What You Need!


Many teachers have their students use individual journals.  I’ve had journals for reading, writing, and the content areas of science and social studies.  Journals are a great way for students to keep important information, class notes, and reflections on their learning.  But, have you tried class journals?  

Class journals are used by all students.  These special journals can be a way to share common experiences and build a strong community.  The journals can keep a record of class meetings, collect thoughts on current events, write continuing stories, chronicle class or school news, share book reviews, or respond to current read-aloud.  The list is endless.

Tips and Suggestions:

-A composition book holds up better than a spiral notebook.

-Set up a rotation schedule to make sure all students get a chance to write in the journal.

-Have a different journal for different purposes. You can have several class journals, don’t try to keep current events in the same journal with a journal with continuing fiction stories.

-Attach a library pocket to the front.  The card in the pocket will keep a list of students who have written in the journal with the date of their entries. (See the freebie below.)

-Decide if students write in the journal at school, at home, or both.  If students are adding a story, it could be their homework for the week.  If the journal is for reflections on a book read to the class, the student can be given time to write during the school day.  Writing in the class journal could even be one of your literacy centers.

Here's the best news . . . I've created a freebie to share with you.  This free, editable PowerPoint has all the printables you'll need to put your own class journals together.  (Please save the file to your computer before you begin editing.)


However you use a class journal, I know your kids will love them!


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Make a Book About Books


Your kids will learn all about books from Aunt Chip as she saves the town of Triple Creek.

Everyone loves to listen to stories.  Even as an adult, I listen to recorded books all the time.  As a teacher, I read aloud to my students every day, throughout the day.  One author I returned to again and again was Patricia Polacco.  Her books are not only filled with her beautiful artwork, but they also tell beautiful stories.

This is the first in a series of blog posts that highlight books by Patricia Polacco with suggestions for how to use them in your classroom.  I’m starting with a book you may not be familiar with . . . Aunt Chip and the Triple Creek Dam Affair. 

The people of Triple Creek “use” books all the time.  They use stacks of books as tables and stools, to fill potholes, and even to build the Triple Creek Dam.  But no one knows how to read.  As Aunt Chip tells her nephew, Eli, it all started when the town tore down the library to put up a giant TV tower.  She told them there would be consequences!  Aunt Chip begins telling Eli stories from the books she remembers.  He shares these stories with his friends.  Soon, they all want to learn how stories can come from books.

It isn't long before the kids are grabbing books from everywhere and begging Aunt Chip to teach them to read.  Then the children are teaching their parents to read, too.

This simple to make flap book will help your kids learn about the care of a book.  It also introduces the types of books and the parts of a book.  Great activity for the beginning of the school year.

Aunt Chip and the Triple Creek Dam Affair is a great book to share with your students during the first few weeks of school.  You can focus on how much reading and books impact our lives.  Discussions with younger students can be about taking care of books.  Older students can learn about genres and how reading is important in all parts of our lives.

I’ve created  a flap-book that teaches kids all about books--

    -how we take care of books

   -book dos and don't

   -how we use books

   -parts of a book

   -types of books 

Three pages printed double sided turn into an adorable flap book that teachers kids the types of books, the parts of a book and how we use books in our lives.

Kids love learning about books with this simple flap book.

Click on the image below to get a free copy of this activity to use with your kids!

Let Aunt Chip teach your kids about book and how they enrich our lives.


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Making a Digital Planner Work for You

Digital Planners:  Making them Work for You

See how easy it is to customize a digital planner and make it your own!

One of the biggest advantages of digital planners is being able to customize it to be exactly what you need.  Customizing can be as simple as typing in your name and class information to adding columns and rows in a table. I’ve put together directions and a few videos that will help you customize your digital planner.

Before you begin customizing your digital planner I highly recommend making a copy of the original file and saving it with a new name.  This will preserve the original version.  You’ll want to keep the original untouched, just in case you want to go back and begin the customizing again.

The digital planner I’m customizing is in Google Slides, but the directions for PowerPoint would be almost the same.

Editing text boxes:   You’ll know a text box is editable when you click in the box and see a blue frame.  When you see that frame you can change the text in that box.  Now you can change the font, font size, and font color.  And, of course, you can change what the text says.  If you want to move the text box, click on the frame.  You’ll see the four-sided arrow and can then drag the box to a new location.  Click outside the text box when you’re finished.   You can also do a copy/paste for the text inside a box, or the entire text box.  Ctrl C will copy and Ctrl V will paste.

Editing Tables:  The core of any planner is the planning pages.  Most weekly planning pages are created with tables.  The first thing you need to decide is where you like the subjects and the days.  You can have the subjects on top and days down the side or days across the top and subjects down the side.  After you decide which style you want, delete the other slide.  (Don’t worry, you have the original version saved so you can get that page back later if you change your mind.)

Now, you’re ready to adjust the table for the number of subjects you have.  With the subjects at the top of the columns, you can add or delete columns.  If your subjects are down the side, you can add or delete rows.


The first thing I do is things in my schedule that are the same every week.  I add a column or row with recess and lunchtime.  If my specials (music, PE, and library) are the same time every day, that will be another row or column.  If my special are at different times each day, I can split a cell, or add a text box to a cell.

After you have the weekly plan page set up, you can duplicate that page for each week of the school year.  I usually duplicate it for just the weeks in the first quarter, just in case I need to make changes for the next quarter.

Here’s an example of a planner page set up with rows for lunch and recess.  Text boxes for music, PE, and library have been added, too.

Editing the Weekly Plan table for digital planner on Google Slides.

Here’s another trick.  If you want more room to type in your plans, you can split the plans for one week into two slides.  You’ll need to use the plan page with the days across the top.

1. Duplicate the planning slide
2. On the first slide, delete the columns for Thursday, Friday.  Or, you can choose to delete Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.
3. On the second slide delete the first two or three days of the week.

4. Now you have one week with the days split between two slides, giving you more space to write your plans.

For more planning space you can split the days on your planner.

Splitting the days of the week on your planner gives you more space to type in your plans.

I hope you'll check out my digital planner.  It has dozens of pages to keep your information 

organized and your school year well planned.  Click on the image for more detail.

Digital Planners are so easy to customize.

Learn how easy it is to customize the text boxes and tables in a digital planner.


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10 Reasons Why You Should Read Aloud to Your Students

Reading aloud to your students has so many benefits.  Students learn how to be better readers by listening to others read aloud to them.

Research shows that reading aloud to your child or students is the single most important activity for reading success (Bredekamp, Copple, & Neuman, 2000).   Reading aloud is the first step toward building reading comprehension skills.  That’s why I hate seeing it squeezed out of the crowded daily schedule in so many classrooms.  Before you take out your daily read-aloud, consider these benefits.

Establish a sense of community with shared experiences.  One of the goals during the first few weeks of school is to bring your students together as a community.  This can be a challenge for students who are meeting for the first time and come from different home situations.  I know of no better way to begin building a community of learners than to bring them together for a read-aloud.  Listening to a story gives your students a shared experience. You’ve just given them something they have in common.  For the rest of the year, you can say, "Remember when we read about . . . "

Build background knowledge.  Our students come from such varied backgrounds we don't always know if they have the schema, or background knowledge, to understand the topic you’re about to teach.  You can build that background knowledge with your read-aloud texts.  Not only are you giving them basic background knowledge you’ll be gaining a better understanding of your students' past experiences.  Through the discussions, you’ll be able to assess how much experience they’ve had with this topic. 

Acquire vocabulary.  Our listening vocabulary comes first.  We learn so many new words when we're listening.  When you’re reading aloud, make sure you take time to point out a few important or interesting words. You can even jot the word onto a sticky note, along with the definition, and/or sample sentence.  Stick that word on a “Words We Love” poster.  You’ll be surprised how many times your students will visit that poster and begin using the words in their discussions, or even their writing.  Your students will soon start listening for new words and offering suggestions for your “Words We Love” poster.

Advertise great books and authors.  Kids love to read the books you've read aloud to them.  They want to experience the story or characters again.  Sometimes you need to choose a book that is one of a series, or by an author who has written other books at the same level.  Try to have some of these books available for your students to check out to read on their own.

Model fluent reading.  Kids learn from role models.  As you read you'll be showing them how good readers have a good pace and their voice shows an understanding of the text.  Make sure you’re modeling fluency in both fiction and nonfiction text.  

Model thinking strategies.  Reading aloud is the best time to show students what good readers are thinking as they read. As you read each day, pick one thinking strategy.  Once in a while, pause in your reading to tell students what you’re thinking.  Tell them something you’ve figured out from the clues the author has given, or the details that helped you figure out the main idea.  It might help if you plan the think-aloud moments ahead of time. Mark the spots you want to stop and share your thinking.

Give students a chance to share their thinking.  This mini-tissue box from the dollar store and large wooden sticks are a great way to randomize the students you call on to share their thoughts.

Give students access to quality literature in a wide range of genres.  We all have our favorite genre. Sometimes students don't know that other genres even exist.  Make sure you choose read-alouds from many different genres.  You never know when you'll spark new interests in your students.

Introduce new topics, concepts in science, and social studies.  Picture books are a wonderful way to introduce new topics and concepts in the content areas.  Not only do you get to discuss the facts, events, and information, you'll see which students have strong or weak background knowledge in the area.

It’s fun!  Students connect reading to an enjoyable experience.  How many of you still remember one of your teachers reading aloud to you?  I think if you ask any adult they will tell you that the read-aloud time is one of their fondest memories from elementary school.

COVID 19 Update, July 2020

With most schools looking at beginning the school year with distance lessons, some publishers have given permission for their books to be read online.  School Library Journal has compiled a list of publishers' websites.  You need to check with each publisher to see if reading one of their books online is allowed.

Click on this image to go to this extensive list of publishers.

Two of my favorite books to read aloud at the beginning of the school year are by Patricia Polacco.  You can click on each image below to check out the free activities for these wonderful books.


When Lightning Comes in a Jar, by Patricia Polacco, is a wonderful book for the beginning of the school year.  The story about a family reunion is the perfect way to begin student stories about their families. Your students will learn about the importance of books as you read about Aunt Chip.   Aunt Chip knew there would be consequences when her town knocked down the town library.

                          Studies show that reading aloud to your students will help them become better readers.


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