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Lesson Plans
Exploring Nonfiction Text
1st–2nd Grade

CCSS Reading: Reading Informational Text
  • RI.1.7: Use the illustrations and details in a text to describe its key ideas.
  • RI.2.7: Explain how specific images (e.g., a diagram showing how a machine works) contribute to and clarify a text.
Materials Needed


  1. Ask students to tell you what the difference is between fiction and nonfiction text. (Help students understand that fiction is not real or not a true story that happened in real life, and nonfiction is factual or real.)
  2. Show students a sample of fiction (e.g., a fiction read-aloud, such as Corduroy by Don Freeman; The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister; or Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst). Ask, “When we read a fiction story like this one, what do the pictures show us?” (Encourage students to share their responses, guiding them to understand that the illustrations usually give a snapshot or visual image of what is happening in the story.)
  3. Then hold up the book Ah, Music! by Aliki, and tell students, “In nonfiction texts, you might find pictures, too! These pictures will help us understand what the words are telling us. There might also be a diagram that shows us more details about the information.”


  1. Read aloud the first section of Ah, Music! (“What Is Music?” on pp. 6–13)
  2. As you read, pause to show the illustrations to the students and ask them to describe the pictures in relation to the text you are reading.
    • For example, on page 7, point out that the illustrations help the reader understand what the words in each part of the sentence mean. Point to the “play an instrument” text and discuss how the illustration above that text shows a boy playing a recorder. Then point to the “clap out a rhythm” text and discuss how the illustration above those words shows a boy clapping his hands. Explain that the illustrations are used to reinforce the meaning of the text that is being read.
  3. Continue to read, pausing to invite volunteers to share how the illustrations on the pages connect to the text. Also point out that the illustrations depicting dialogue between the characters help to clarify the author’s meaning.

Guided Practice

  1. Give each student a copy of “The Venus Flytrap.”
  2. Have students follow along as volunteers take turns reading the selection aloud.
  3. Ask students to look at the picture at the top of the page. Ask, “What is it a picture of? What purpose does the diagram serve?”
  4. Encourage students to think about how the labeled diagram and caption help them understand the information they have read.

Independent Practice

  1. Encourage students to reread “The Venus Flytrap” and answer the comprehension questions. (The answers to the questions are as follows: 1. insects; 2. four; 3. swamp; 4. hairs; 5. The leaves stay closed for several hours.)
  2. Remind students to use the text and the diagram to help with comprehension.

Extension Activity

  1. Challenge students to look through nonfiction texts and identify pictures or diagrams that enhance the text.
  2. Have each student bookmark a page that shows a good example.
  3. Make a photocopy of each example. Display the photocopies on the left side of a piece of chart paper.
  4. Invite students to discuss their examples and explain how the pictures or diagrams help them comprehend the text. Write the students’ explanations on the right side of the chart paper.

the 1st–2nd Grade lesson plan. (Includes all printable materials.)




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