Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog

Spotlight! Teaching Informational Text Features with Brian Hopkins

Welcome once again to our Teacher Spotlight , giving recognition (and free books!) to deserving teachers who have great ideas to share. Today's featured teacher is Brian Hopkins of Brevard County, Florida. Brian authors a blog called   Hopkins' Hoppin' Happenings , which has a Common Core focus and posts with topics as diverse as phonics, science, and math. He posts more than once per week, and his blog is well-written and interesting. Today he brings us a science lesson that ties the Common Core's informational text (nonfiction) threads to Arctic animals. Here's the lesson in his own words:

I am excited to get the opportunity to write about a fun lesson for Hameray Publishing.   Today’s lesson incorporates Science  with Nonfiction Reading . Students will learn about different text features while researching an animal.


The first thing the teacher should do is teach students different kinds of text features. These include headings, subheadings, table of contents, indexes, captions, diagrams, bold-faced words, pictures, etc. The easiest way to do this is to use actual nonfiction books to show children the different text features. Hameray Publishing has a great group of books on Arctic animals called  Zoozoo Animal World  that on the last page shows pictures with a one-word caption under it.*


The next step would be to let the students go on a hunt for text features. They could write down the text feature and the book and page number that they found it on. This would show their understanding of text features and how they are used.


Then to tie in with science, the teacher could read several books on animals and a discussion could be held on what kind of animal group the animal belongs in (mammal, fish, bird, reptile, etc.), if it is a vertebrate or invertebrate, what the habitat of the animal is, what the animal needs to live, where the animal lives, etc.  The article animal books are very simple with 1 sentence per page that tells you a little bit about animals. They are perfect for a young kindergarten or 1 st grader reader or even for a 2 nd  grader to find information quickly. 


To make sure the students understand about animals and text features, the teacher could have each child pick an animal. They would create a poster, diorama, or slideshow presentation about the animal. They would describe what the animal looks like, what group the animal belongs to, what its habitat is, where it lives, etc.  On the poster they would put some of the following text features to demonstrate their knowledge of how they help readers: title, heading, subheading, pictures, captions, diagrams, maps, etc.   This would show mastery of understanding text features (Common Core 1.RIT.5, 2.RIT.5, 3.RIT.5) and vocabulary about animals.

- Brian Hopkins


My name is Brian Hopkins and I am from Brevard County, Florida. I graduated from the University of Central Florida with a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education K–6. I also have my ESOL endorsement and am CET certified to mentor teachers and have student interns. I taught Kindergarten for three years, 2nd grade for five years, and completed a short term in 5th grade. I also subbed in a 3rd/4th grade class for a month. Currently, I am a substitute teacher as I try to seek a new teaching assignment, which I hope is right around the corner! In my spare time, I enjoy listening to country music, reading, and making teaching materials.

*To check out the Zoozoo Animal World series used in this activity, click here. You can also download an information sheet with key features about the series by clicking the image below! Other series with informational text features include  Real World  and  My World