When Scientists Read & Write


Every year, I end up with a class full of students who LOVE science.  (I'm guessing you do, too.)  Of course, experiments are their favorite... being curious, gathering materials, getting messy, seeing what happens... it's the best.  

Because science is grounded in what's "real," most of my children also like to read nonfiction.  I don't know what your science materials look like, but mine lack a wide variety of engaging student texts my kids can read and use to make connections between science and literacy.  (So, sometimes, you just have to make your own.  Been there?)

This is Hunter's book about landforms.  I love it because he (and most of the other students) can actually read it.  It's important to me that during all times of the day, the children see themselves as readers and writers, even during science and math, so we are constantly asking questions and trying to find the answers to them.  (Plus, isn't that what scientists do... ask and answer questions?)  

Since we just began this unit, Hunter's knowledge of landforms is still forming.  He is mostly taking cues from the book's cover illustrations:  "Is the sun a landform?" and "Where do mountains come from?"  {Asking Questions Before Reading}

Inside the book, I teach the children to use highlighters to locate and remember important information, like key words and definitions.

And it's important for the children to understand that readers ask questions while they are reading, so Post-It notes are right there with us so we can capture all our curious thinking along the way.  After reading this page with a partner, Hunter wants to know:  "How tall are canyons?" Later, after the children have seen a few videos and real photographs of various landforms, they'll color the illustrations on each page using realistic colors.  (No "rainbow" mountains during science class.)  :)

Sometimes, I write articles for the children.  There's something about a nonfiction article that seems so "official" and grown-up.  The kids feel like they're reading something an adult would read in an important magazine. (Whatever works, right?)  Plus, it gives me a chance to introduce multiple nonfiction text features to them, like captions, lists, fun facts, key words, labels, arrows, etc.  

This is Hunter's article about oceans.  (I don't usually make color copies for the students... that's just for the blog photo.  The students get their own black-and-white copy, but I often use a color copy when I'm teaching.)  These photos show how Hunter is asking (and later answering) questions about his reading.  He is also highlighting evidence from the text to help him answer text-based questions.  (See below.)

There are many ways to help children process these articles:  read and reread over a few days; read with a partner; use it as a guided reading text during small group instruction; enlarge it and use it during shared reading... the contexts are endless... whatever works best for your readers.

This is Hunter's Think & Respond sheet that goes with his article on oceans.  In order to answer the first question, readers must return to the text and find evidence to support their answers.  (This is where Hunter goes back and highlights the answers as he finds them within the article.) The second question requires the students to use a text feature from the article and the third question encourages kids to make connections between information previously learned and this new information.  

If you'd like to see more about this student book and set of articles about landforms, click HERE.  

The student book (pictured above) includes a definition of landforms, a clip art image and definition for several landforms, and a glossary. 

The set also includes 6 different nonfiction articles (with real photographs) about various landforms, including:
• a cave
• a river
• a mountain
• an ocean
• a plain
• a lake

Happy Teaching!


  1. Hi Andrea, this is perfect! I am just getting ready to start working in depth with informational text. I plan to use this with my small groups! You are right, they will feel so "grown up" reading the articles. Our school is really tight on copies so i think it will work ok with sheet protectors :) thanks for making and sharing, how fun to use vacation photos!

    1. I never thought of using sheet protectors to limit copies... great idea!

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