Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog

5 Ideas For Using Nonfiction Books In Writing—with FREE download!

This is a guest post by blogger Amanda Ross.  If you like what you see here, you can check out her blog,  First Grade Garden , for more of her writing.  

Hi there, my name is Amanda Ross. This is my first guest post here at the Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog and I am so excited to be here with you! Today, I’m going to share with you a few ideas for using nonfiction books in writing. I used a few books from the   Zoozoo Animal World   Series, which are perfect for using with kindergarten or first grade!

1) Nonfiction books usually have amazing photographs and the   Zoozoo Animal World  books are no exception . Use these photographs as a stem for some descriptive writing! Have the students choose one specific page in a book and practice looking very closely at all the details in the photograph. Have the students create a bubble map and in each bubble write some adjectives or descriptive words/phrases that describe the photograph. The bubble map can be used as a starting point for writing a descriptive paragraph.

2)  If you use the six traits of writing in your classroom, one of the traits is "voice" . A fun way to get students writing in a different voice is to have them imagine they are the animal from a book. At the end of   Polar Bear    by Lee Waters, the polar bear is lounging on the ice. Ask your students to think like the polar bear… What is he doing? What is he thinking? What will he do next? Have your students write a fictional story about the polar bear!

3)   The   Zoozoo Animal World   books follow simple sentence patterns, which is great for weaker writers, especially since they can mimic it in their own writing . In the book   Arctic Fox    by Lee Waters, every page has the words “The arctic fox is…” Students can write their own sentences about the arctic fox using the same sentence pattern.

4)    After reading a nonfiction animal book, students can use a T-chart to record information that they learned about the animal on the left side.   On the right side they record any questions about the animal that they may still have. They can use this as a starting point for a research project on the animal!

5)   The Zoozoo Animal World series has books about animals from different habitats and there are a few different animal books for each habitat.   For instance, the "Arctic" habitat has books about arctic fox, polar bear, killer whale, puffin, and walrus. After reading a few books about animals from the same habitat, students can write an informational paragraph about that habitat! They can use the photographs in the books to describe the habitat and also list what type of animals live in it!


Amanda Ross is a first grade teacher in Canada and has been teaching for seven years. The last three years have been in first grade and that’s where she plans to stay! She is currently on maternity leave with her daughter Zoe, but will be heading back to first grade in September. You can read more from her her at her teaching blog   First Grade Garden .


To learn more about   Zoozoo Animal World,   click here to visit our website , or click the series highlights image below to download information sheets with key features .   To get today's free activity download, click the image to the right below!