Weather: A Journey in Nonfiction

K - 2
Lesson Plan Type
Estimated Time
Six 30-minute class sessions
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This research project is designed for primary students to engage in nonfiction text, in both print and digital format. Students begin by formulating questions on a subject (in this case, weather), then classify questions into topic areas. After grouping students by topic areas and assigning a question previously generated, students engage in nonfiction text to answer the question. Combining question with answer, students construct sentences that are then combined with others in their topic group to form a "report" (paragraph length). The group then creates an illustration to reflect the topic and publishes it in the chosen format (print or digital).

From Theory to Practice

  • Children gather experience and knowledge from both types of texts (narrative and expository) and we should expose them to both in our literacy programs.

  • Teachers have a responsibility to motivate children to read all types of texts.

  • By listening to nonfiction and talking about it, children will gain respect for expository language as well as learn to emulate the best examples in their own writing.

  • Teachers need to look for opportunities to incorporate the literature of fact into literacy programs, not as texts to learn but as rich, meaningful experiences.


Common Core Standards

This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.

State Standards

This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.

NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts

  • 1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
  • 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
  • 6. Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.
  • 7. Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and nonprint texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.
  • 8. Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.

Materials and Technology

  • The Cloud Book by Tomie De Paola (Holiday House, 1975)

  • I Like Weather by Aileen Fisher (Crowell, 1963)

  • On the Same Day in March by Marilyn Singer (HarperCollins, 2000)

  • Weather. Smart Apple Media

  • Fun with Science. Warwick Press

  • Let's Read and Find Out Science. HarperCollins

  • Magic School Bus. Scholastic

  • Word Processor: Any standard program or ClarisWorks for Kids (aimed at primary students)

  • Illustrator: Kid Pix Deluxe, ClarisWorks for Kids, HyperStudio

  • Multimedia: Kid Pix Deluxe, HyperStudio, PowerPoint




Work with the school librarian and the technical assistant to gather materials and bookmark webpages for the research phase of this project. Work with the technical assistant to determine what software is available and appropriate for your students.

Student Objectives

Students will

  • Formulate logical questions

  • Utilize print and digital texts to locate information

  • Comprehend nonfiction text to locate information

  • Contribute to a group project

  • Add an element to a group illustration that relates to the topic

  • Reflect on their learning process for the project

Instruction and Activities

Session 1 - Explore weather

Introduce the topic by reading fiction books about weather (see Materials list-fiction). Have students generate a K-W-L chart about the topic of weather. As a class, list questions generated by students, then group questions by topics.

Possible topics: storms, rain, snow, clouds, wind, ice, floods, hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, sun

Session 2 - Formulate questions

Put students into small groups and assign each group one of the topics that was generated in Session 1. Distribute questions by topic to the groups. Each student within the group should write down one of the questions generated on a notecard. Help students formulate a question that can be researched and answered by either books or Internet sites. Ideally, each student will have an individual question related to the group topic.

Session 3 - Research

Have an assortment of nonfiction books and bookmarked websites (see Web resources and Materials-nonfiction) available for students. As students locate the answer to their question, they should record it on their notecards. Also utilize some type of bibliographic format to create awareness of references and copyright for students. (Suggestion: Title, Author, Date OR Title of website, URL address, date), Have students record this information on the notecard also.

Session 4 - Create report

Each student's task during this session is to combine his or her question and notes into one sentence. (Example: What is a storm? Disturbance in weather = A storm is a disturbance in the weather.) Sentences from each student are then combined to create a "report" on the group topic. This sentence product can be handwritten or typed using a word processing program.

Session 5 - Illustrate topic

Have students work as a group to create an illustration for their report. Emphasis is on consensus as students must plan and agree to what element of the picture each student wishes to contribute. A low-tech option is to use traditional art methods that can be scanned into digital form. A high-tech option can be accomplished utilizing an illustration program such as Kid Pix, or ClarisWorks for Kids.

Session 6 - Present findings

Three possibilities are suggested ranging from low- to high-tech.

1. Create a book on weather by combining each group's illustrated report and adding additional pages such as title, table of contents, etc.

2. Utilizing a software product, create a multimedia product (see Materials list for suggested software). Include each group illustration as a truck/card/slide. Have students read aloud their report (each student reads the sentence they created) and insert as a sound feature. Add a title/menu slide and you have a wonderful presentation. Most software products provide tools that allow you to publish presentation to the Web if you have a school or class webpage.

The teacher usually completes most of the technical creation of the product. Other possibilities include inviting a parent or older (intermediate-age) student to assist. You may be lucky and have an extremely competent second grader also. Primary students have completed multimedia projects independently, but this is usually an exception, not the rule.

3. Create a video that might take two forms. The first form would be a simplistic presentation of students reading and displaying their group illustrations. The second form would involve printing your multimedia presentation to video. Both forms provide a presentation format that can be circulated among students' homes for parental viewing.


  • Combine emergent and beginning readers with independent readers to provide opportunities for students to help each other (i.e., first- and second-grade student combinations).

  • Consider doing only some of the lessons. Sessions 1-3, although building upon each other, can be delivered independently. Adjust the technology level, as you feel comfortable.

  • Create a website as a final product.

Student Assessment / Reflections

Utilize the Assessment Summary handout provided. Summary includes checklist for Session 2, rubric for Sessions 3 and 4, and a journal response for Sessions 5 and 6.

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