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Lesson Plan

Integrating Literacy Into the Study of the Earth's Surface

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Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Seven 45-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Catherine Crum

Daufuskie Island, South Carolina


International Literacy Association


Materials and Technology






  • Pond by Gordon Morrison (Houghton Mifflin, 2002)
  • Salmon Stream by Carol Reed-Jones (Dawn Publications, 2001)
  • River of Life by Debbie S. Miller (Clarion Books, 2000)
  • Salamander Rain: A Lake and Pond Journal by Kristin Joy Pratt-Serafini (Dawn Publications, 2001)
  • The Kingfisher Young People's Book of Oceans by David Lambert (Kingfisher, 2001)
  • Clipboards, paper, and pencils
  • Tape
  • Index cards
  • Science journals for students

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Readers Theatre Rubric

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1. Gather the books listed in the Materials & Technology section.

  • Pond by Gordon Morrison focuses on a glacial pond and the abundance of plants and animals that draw life from it during the year.

  • Salmon Stream by Carol Reed-Jones follows the life cycle of the salmon from hatching upstream, to life in the ocean, to eventually making a hazardous journey home to their stream of origin.

  • River of Life by Debbie S. Miller describes a river in Alaska, emphasizing how living things connect and depend upon the river for their survival.

  • Salamander Rain: A Lake and Pond Journal by Kristin Joy Pratt-Serafini is the journal and scrapbook of Klint, a young Planet Scout, who keeps notes of the turtles, crayfish, dragonflies, and other creatures living in the lakes and ponds in his neighborhood.

  • The Kingfisher Young People's Book of Oceans by David Lambert presents information about the world's oceans; how they were formed, their geology, tides, life forms, and coasts.
2. Have available clipboards, paper, and pencils for generating word lists. You should also have index cards and tape available for students to write words on the cards and tape them to the word wall.

3. Create a science word wall with the following headings:

  • Pond

  • Stream

  • River

  • Lake

  • Ocean
4. Provide each student with a science journal.

5. Divide the class into four or five teams to prepare and perform the Readers Theatre. There are a number of flexible grouping options from which to choose. Knowing your students and the ways they learn best will help you determine which grouping to use.

  • Random. This is an arbitrary way to assemble students. It can be done in a variety of ways, such as by picking names from a hat. Random grouping is effective when forming groups of equal size or when you would like students to get to know one another.

  • Social or cooperative. This grouping combines students with specific social skills, such as leaders and followers, when they need to function in these different roles. Students learn different roles from one another and can work together to complete a group task.

  • Interest. You can assign students to a group based on their interest in a topic, such as a favorite animal. Use this grouping when students' interest is the main motivation for learning about a topic.

  • Task. Group together those students who are successful at completing certain types of activities. For example, when having students dramatize a story, ask those who are artistic to paint a theatrical backdrop and those with musical talent to play instruments.

  • Knowledge of subject. Group together students with knowledge of a certain subject or hobby when you want them to recognize similarities among one another and share information.

  • Skill or strategy. Group together students who need help with a particular skill or strategy.

  • Student choice. Allow students to group themselves according to a category, such as author or genre. You can use this approach when you want to create literature response groups in which students take the lead.
6. Review each of the links listed under Websites. You may choose to use the information from these websites during your initial discussions about each body of water in Sessions 1-5, or have students access them when researching and preparing their Readers Theatre scripts. Make sure that these Web resources are appropriate for your students and find alternatives if necessary. You may want to bookmark selected websites on your classroom or lab computers for students to be able to access easily during the lesson.

7. Students should be familiar with Readers Theatre prior to beginning this lesson. If they need an introduction or additional practice, you may use the ReadWriteThink.org lesson "Readers Theatre." Other helpful websites that offer information about Readers Theatre include:

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