In Tuesday's post, we looked at how to use narrative text in the classroom to help students meet Common Core State Standards, using an example from Hameray's new series Story World by Alan Trussell-Cullen. Today, we're continuing down this path by exploring how to expose informational texts to children by pulling real world elements/topics from out of a piece of literature. The Story World-Real World series is a terrific vehicle for introducing different text genres since it pairs narrative texts—whether fairytales or fable—with related informational texts.
The real world elements found in these informational texts are things that children will find interesting and will be welcome additions to a young reader's world knowledge. The topics span across many disciplines, from hard sciences to the arts. Here's the list of topics along with the story they were pulled from, to give you an idea:
Traditional Tale and Related Informational Text Topics
Cinderella: dancing, telling time, shoes
The Crow and the Rain Barrel: crows, the water cycle, things water is good for
The Gingerbread Man: making gingerbread cookies, ways to have fun with food, running speeds
Goldilocks and the Three Bears: bears, temperature, breakfast
The Greedy Dog and the Very Big Bone: bones, working dogs, how reflections work
The Lion and the Mouse: lions, keeping pet mice, teeth
The Little Red Hen: grains, bread, the field-to-table process
Little Red Riding Hood: wolves, safety, the tree-to-lumber process
The Princess and the Frog: frogs, ball games, what castle life was like
Three Little Pigs: pigs, unconventional types of housing, the home construction process
Lesson Ideas for Bridging Narrative to Informational Texts
Start by introducing students to the fictional story, and then asking engaging questions about the real world elements that can be found in the literature. Find out what students already know about these informational topics and have them tell you their opinions on them. Inquire what more they would like to find out about the topic and finally, introduce them to the relevant informational text.
Now, applying this lesson plan to the Cinderella Theme Set from Story World Real World, you'll find a sample of how to introduce key real world topics found in the Cinderella tale as well as ideas for connecting these topics to the three related informational texts where they can be explored more completely. These ideas can be applied to a range of narrative and informational texts, but in the Story World-Real World series, the themes come organized for you! (Note: there's a flip book of each informational text from this theme set for your reference and you can flip through the Cinderella book by clicking to yesterday's post). See the three informational text topics below:
Dancing: Let's Dance!
- Cinderella was happy that her fairy godmother was able to help her go to the ball, where she got to dance with the prince.
- How many of you like to dance?
- Do you have a special kind of dance that you like to do?
- What kinds of music do people dance to?
Once you have engaged the students into thinking about the dancing aspect of the story, you can introduce the informational text, Let's Dance, which shows different kinds of dances from around the world. You may want to ask the students if they've seen any of the kinds of dance before, and if they have any traditional dances they do with their families. This can set the stage for a discussion on cultural diversity or sharing their experiences dancing at special events (weddings, parties, etc.).
The Common Core State Standards ask that children understand the feelings and experiences of the characters they encounter in narrative texts. Once you have established how the students feel about dancing and shown them the happy expressions on the people dancing in the book, you can come full circle to the Cinderella book, asking them why they think Cinderella might have been happy to dance (especially in contrast to the work she had been doing).
Telling Time: What's the Time?
- Cinderella had to leave the ball when the clock struck midnight.
- Sometimes, people tell the time on clocks that are on the wall, like in the story—can you think of other places that you've seen clocks?
- Can you think of other ways that people tell time? (Some students might be familiar with sand timers from board games or references to telling time by the sun in movies.)
The informational text What's the Time? explains how people used to tell the time before the invention of clocks and shows places that clocks can be found. As you go through the book, you may want to ask the children if they have ever seen the earlier methods of time-telling and find out where their families have clocks. If the units coincide, you may also want to tie the reading in with a lesson on telling time.
The narrative text Cinderella does not actually say what happens when the magic runs out at midnight. You can ask the children to hypothesize what will happen to her coach and horse, and then talk to them about why it is important to be on time—what real-world consequences can result from being late? Have any of those things ever happened to them or to their families?
Shoes: Why Do We Wear Shoes?
- The prince was able to find Cinderella by looking for a woman who fit the shoe she left behind.
- Have any of you ever lost a shoe?
- What kinds of shoes do you wear?
- Do you have different shoes to do different things or to wear in different seasons?
Why Do We Wear Shoes? describes various types of footwear and what environments they are used for. As you go through the book, you could take a survey of the students and see whether they have worn the different types of shoes (roller skates, flippers, snow boots, etc.).
Bringing the topic back to the story, you can talk about how different people come in different sizes and about uniqueness—Cinderella's shoe fit her perfectly, but it did not fit the other women. You could do a foot-tracing activity to see if there is variation in the size and shape of the students' feet. You can also explain that sometimes people wear special shoes to dress up; they are not really made of glass Like Cinderella's, but sometimes they can sparkle and shine. You could have the students draw pictures of some shoes that they might like to wear, or cut them out of catalogs, then decorate them with glitter to make them "magic slippers."
Using informational texts in tandem with the narrative text stories allows students:
- to better understand the characters in the stories and their motivations, by tying them to the children's own opinions and experiences
- it also helps them to understand the world around them better, by expanding their knowledge of topics, items, and concepts that they may have been familiar with only in passing.
For an even deeper look at the elements featured in the books, you can take your list of questions the children said they would like answered about the topics that weren't answered by the informational texts, and you can help them to look up the answers in a children's encyclopedia online. Or you can ask them what other parts of the story they would like to know more about—in the case of Cinderella, perhaps princes and how the idea of royalty works—and help them make their own books on the topic using online resources.
Combining the whimsy of traditional fairy tales with the excitement of curiosity-satisfying factual information is one way to make children eager to learn. You can see all available titles in the Story World Real World series on our website! Check back tomorrow for more ideas on how to use the informational texts!