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Lesson Plan

Investigating Animals: Using Nonfiction for Inquiry-based Research

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Investigating Animals: Using Nonfiction for Inquiry-based Research

Grades K – 2
Lesson Plan Type Unit
Estimated Time Seven 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Devon Hamner

Devon Hamner

Grand Island, Nebraska


National Council of Teachers of English



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From Theory to Practice



Young children are fascinated with the world around them, showing intense interest and curiosity about animals and their lives. Through the use of nonfiction, students can be encouraged and challenged to learn more about favorite animals and to document their findings with graphic organizers. Students begin their inquiry by comparing fiction and nonfiction books about animals, using a Venn diagram. They list things they want to know about animals on a chart. As a class, students vote on an animal to research. They revise their question list, and then research the animal using prompts from an online graphic organizer. After several sessions of research, students revisit their original questions and evaluate the information they have gathered. Finally, students revise and edit their work and prepare to present their findings to an authentic audience.

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Animal Inquiry Interactive: Students can use this online to tool to help them focus and organize their research about animals.

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This lesson focuses on teaching primary students doing research with nonfiction, informational material how to document their discoveries. In her Planning for Inquiry: It's Not an Oxymoron!, Diane Parker poses a series of questions that make inquiry-based learning seem essential for elementary grade students: "Do we want them simply to memorize facts and procedures in order to pass a test? Or do we want them to want to know, to seek to know, and ultimately, to understand themselves and their world more deeply as a result of their knowing?" (5). Certainly our youngest students deserve the kinds of richly engaging learning experiences that well-designed inquiry instruction can bring them.

Further Reading

Parker, Diane. 2007.  Planning for Inquiry: It's Not an Oxymoron! Urbana, IL: NCTE.

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