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Ready-Set-Tech: Non-Fiction Animal Picture Books
Non-Fiction Animal Picture Books

Kids love to learn about animals. They are fascinated by the different facts they find out about animals. In this unit, students will be studying non-fiction writing, as well as learning how to research a specific animal. Students will begin the unit by becoming immersed in different picture books. They will spend several lessons discussing non-fiction texts, and also writing about animals that they know about. Students will then choose one animal that interests them, and begin researching different facts on the Internet. Students will have focus questions to guide their work, as well as graphic organizers and semantic maps. By the end of the unit, students will be able to create a non-fiction picture book about their animal and share it with the class.

This unit is highly adaptable. If needed, students can work in groups, create an art project to accompany their book, or be assigned specific animals. Teachers are able to use this unit to teach a variety of mini-lessons such as non-fiction writing formats, note-taking skills, or research.

Kim Edelmann

Kim Edelmann has been teaching at P.S. 6 in Manhattan for the past 4 years. She is currently working in a CTT first grade classroom. She recently received her Master's Degree in Special Education from Hunter College.


Literacy, Technology, Special Education

Grade Level: 2-5

Time: This unit will take between 4-6 weeks, depending on how often students can get online to conduct research.

Materials: Computers with Internet access, Microsoft Word, Kidspiration or Inspiration software, various non-fiction picture books, chart paper, writing notebooks, pens/pencils.







Students will:

1. Identify characteristics of non-fiction books.
2. Choose an animal they are interested in researching.
3. Create a KWL chart on a specific animal.
4. Use the Internet to learn facts about an animal.
5. Write a minimum of 5 facts about their animal.
6. Use technology to publish a picture book.  

Web sites:








Day One:

What is Nonfiction?


- Students will identify characteristics of non-fiction books.

-Students will create a list of what they noticed when looking through non-fiction books.


-Nonfiction picture books

-Writing notebooks


-Chart paper

The teacher will begin the unit by reading several non-fiction picture books and discussing features of non-fiction writing. This should take place a week or two prior to beginning the lessons. Teachers should spend several lessons on what students notice about non-fiction books. Students should have time to independently read and discuss various books. Examples of picture books are:

- Dogs by Gail Gibbons

- Spiders by Esther Cullen

- Sea Turtles by Stanley Swartz

- Frogs by Jim Arnosky

- Bats by Gail Gibbons

- Frogs by Michael Tyler

- Whales by Lesley DuTemple



1. Students will begin by listening to a non-fiction picture book as a read aloud on the rug. While reading, ask students to keep in mind the different parts of the book and how the book is structured.

2. The teacher will then place students into groups of four. Each group will be given a basket. The basket will contain several books.

3. Students will be asked to write in their writing notebook all the things they notice about non-fiction books. Students can write in list form or use sentences. Give time for students to look through books in basket.

4. Gather students on the rug and share what they found. Teacher can create a chart of non-fiction characteristics. Examples include: index, glossary, labels, captions, detailed pictures, facts vs. opinions, etc. Students should use examples from books to share their thoughts. Throughout the unit keep adding to the chart.

5. Students should have the chance to take a non-fiction book home and add to their list. The following day they can share what they found.


-Students will be assessed based on the class discussion about non-fiction writing.

-Students will be assessed based on their participation in the group when browsing through books. Teacher will be walking around the classroom supporting students as they work cooperatively.


Day Two:

KWL Animal Chart


-Students will choose an animal that they are interested in researching.

-Students will create a KWL chart on a specific animal.


-Chart paper

-Overhead projector

-KWL chart

-Pencils, markers


1. Students have been looking at non-fiction books for a few days now. Prior to this lesson students had a chance to select an animal they were interested in learning about. Students began writing about animals they know about and are interested in. In their notebooks they should have a list of animals that interest them. The students should be given ample time for entries in their notebooks about animals they know. Prior to this lesson the teacher modeled how to read a non-fiction book. Teach different strategies to help students read all the information (e.g. make sure students are aware of captions, diagrams, etc.).

2. Students will then choose one animal from their list/notebook.

3. Students are given a copy of a KWL form. This graphic organizer is explained, “A KWL helps keep track of our ideas in an organized manner.” They will be asked to complete a KWL chart. They are only responsible for filling in the K (What the student KNOWS about the animal) and also the W (What the student WANTS to learn about the animal). Using the overhead projector, the teacher will model completing the K and W column.

4. Students will keep the KWL chart throughout the unit. If time, have students share some writing off their chart with class. Teacher should prompt students to include important details such as what the animal looks like, where the animal lives, and what the animal eats.


-Students will be assessed based on their KWL chart.



Day Three:

Gathering Information


-Students will use the Internet to learn facts about their animal.

-Students will write a minimum of 5 facts about their animal.



-Fact sheet

-Pencils, pens


1. The students will begin gathering information for their research. Teacher will ask students to think of four or five focus questions for their animal research. Every student will be responsible for finding out where the animal lives, what the animal eats, what the animal looks like. Students will be encouraged to write other interesting details about their animal. Students will be referring back to the read alouds from previous lesson and using the picture books as a model.

2. Students will go to the computer lab and use the Internet to research animals. Before going to different web sites, the teacher will model how to use the Internet and gather information. She will model research for the class. The teacher will then have students use specific web sites to find information.

3. Students will then use the following web sites to research their animals:

http://kidsplanet.org/factsheets/map.html (various types of animals)

http://kidzone.ws/sharks/index.htm (for information on sharks)





Students will be using the Internet during weekly computer class, as well as other scheduled times during the unit.

4. Students should be encouraged to take notes from web sites. During this time (or the following day) the teacher will be modeling how to take notes from non-fiction texts. It is important for students to distinguish what is important from a passage, and what is not. Students will be given another graphic organizer to help separate information. The organizer consists of four boxes, one for each research question. (See sample below.)

5. Students will continue using the computer to research animals for the next 3-4 days.


- Students will be assessed based on their participation in the computer lab. The teacher will be walking around the classroom supporting students as they research different animals.

-Students will be assessed based on their notes from the computer research.


Day Four:

Publishing Animal Books


- Students will publish a non-fiction animal book.



-Pens, Markers




1. After several weeks of various mini-lessons on non-fiction writing, students will be ready to publish an animal book. Prior to this lesson, students completed the “What I Have Learned” part of the KWL chart. They used this information to draft their picture book. Lessons should have been taught about table of contents, detailed drawings, captions, index, and glossary. Students will model their books after other picture books, such as Spiders by Esther Cullen.

2. Students will have a written draft of their picture book. The draft should be full of different facts about their animal. Each student would be given a specific checklist about the criteria needed for their book. See below for sample checklist.

3. Teacher will model this checklist in front of class with a sample picture book. Students will then have a chance to complete checklist.

4. Students will then take turns (or go to the computer lab as a class) to type their picture book. Students can use different computer programs, specifically Kidspiration or Inspiration to create their picture book. Teacher will also model how to use their program. This lesson may take several days to complete.

5 Once the class has completed the picture books, they will celebrate their work and share their books.


-Students will be assessed based on the published picture book.


Sample Fact Sheet:

Name___________________________ Date___________

Animal Chosen:_________________________

My animal:

Looks like Lives Eats Other facts








Sample Checklist:

Name______________________ Date________

Animal Books

1._______ My book has a title, author, and illustrator printed on the cover

2._______ My book has a table of contents

3.My book has information about

_______Where the animal lives

_______ What the animal eats

_______What the animal looks like

_______ Other facts about my animal

4. _______My book has a glossary of important terms.

5. _______ My book has an index.

6. _______ My book has different pictures with labels and captions.


  • Informing others: Report or Informational Writing
  • Having an organizational structure in writing
  • Gathering of information pertinent to a topic
  • Writing purposes and resulting genres
  • Using diagrams, illustrations as appropriate to text




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