Mixed Bags: Fiction and Nonfiction
- Grades: 1–2
- Unit Plan:
In order to understand nonfiction as a genre, it is useful to compare and contrast it to fiction. This lesson uses bags (paper or cloth) filled with matching fiction and nonfiction books to help the students discover the differences.
- Explore the contents of their "mixed bags" — nonfiction and fiction books
- Determine the differences and similarities between fiction and nonfiction
- Share their findings with the class to create a classroom resource
- Multiple book bags (bags containing one fiction and one nonfiction book on the same topic)
- Chart paper and markers
- Book Bag T-Chart (PDF)
Set Up and Prepare
- Create multiple book bags containing one fiction and one nonfiction book on the same topic. Prepare one bag for every two students. You can find a lot of matches through your own library, or you can purchase book sets already made from The Scholastic Teacher Store. Some good pairs include:
Days With Frog and Toad paired with From Tadpole to Frog
Gregory the Terrible Eater paired with Eating Right
The Adventure of Spider paired with Insects and Spiders
Little Polar Bear and the Brave Little Hare paired with Polar Mammals
You will be surprised at how many matches you can find in your own library!
- Create a chart for the end of the lesson to record your findings. You might simply title it: "What we noticed about nonfiction books."
Step 1: Gather students on the carpet and discuss what you already know about nonfiction. Review the features of nonfiction from Lesson 1.
Step 2: Introduce the idea of book bags as sets of books on the same topic. Explain that one book is fiction and one book is nonfiction. It is their job to tell the difference between the two books and make observations.
Step 3: Match the students with their partners and hand out the Book Bags T-Chart worksheet. They are to record whatever observations they make on the sheet to share later. Hand each partnership one book bag.
Step 4: Allow the students to work with their partner and record their observations on the T-chart. Allow about 15-20 minutes of work.
Step 5: Regroup on the carpet and share the findings from the partners. Record any interesting observations on the chart labeled: "What we noticed about nonfiction books."
Step 6: The next day, go through the same lesson, but with different book bags for different groups. At the end, record any new observations on T-charts. Repeat another day if you find it necessary or helpful. Or, if you have enough book bags, allow the students to try to complete the T-chart independently and share their findings.
Step 7: Post the chart somewhere in the room for the students to use as a resource.
Supporting All Learners
As always, take into consideration the partnerships. Make sure that slow learners are matched with someone who might be able to read the books or understand the assignment more clearly.
Asking the students to bring in book sets as homework after the first day of the activity might be a great way to build your supply of book bags. Most families have at least one set they could make from their own books. I've had a book on leprechauns matched with an Irish travel book. If they look hard, they should find something!
Ask questions of yourself and the lesson:
- What went well?
- What didn't?
- Do the students have a greater understanding of the book sets and could they create their own set if they wanted?
- Did all the students understand the lesson separate from their partner?
- Did you help encourage original thinking?
- How could you change the lesson to better suit the needs of your class?
- Check the T-Charts to make sure that all students are understanding and able to complete the assignment independently.
- Ask questions and monitor for understanding during class discussions.