I know I talk about text features often, but they are such important elements of nonfiction texts. Text features are excellent comprehension tools! They help us understand relevant details and information from nonfiction texts, interpret numbers, visualize topics and concepts, and so much more. If we are going to see text features in most nonfiction texts, we need to know how to use them to our advantage. So, today I am going to talk about a few whole-group text features activities that will improve your students’ nonfiction text skills.
Text Feature Scavenger Hunt
Aside from your examples displayed on anchor charts and modeled in mentor texts, students will need to interact with loads of text features. This means finding them, identifying them, AND interpreting them. A scavenger hunt is an excellent text features activity, and there are a couple of ways that you can do them!
First, you can conduct a “Moving Text Feature Scavenger Hunt.” Print or cut out diagrams, photos, charts, maps, etc., and distribute one to each student. Be sure there are multiple examples of each type of text feature. Students will hold their examples on display in front of themselves or they can “wear” them like a badge. [Simply hole punch two holes in the top of the pages and tie ribbon or yarn to create a necklace/badge.] Students will mix-pair-share until they’ve found all of the types of text features.
*Have them discuss each of their text features in the “share” portion of this interactive activity. You can provide discussion points or give them a checklist. For example 1: Identify your partner’s text feature. 2: Describe the text feature’s use/why an author may incorporate the text feature. 3: List another topic that this text feature could be useful for.
Secondly, you can conduct a more traditional text feature scavenger hunt activity by distributing or displaying a list of text features and having your students hunt through magazines, nonfiction textbooks, and other informational texts for each type.
If you have materials like Time for Kids magazines that you’re finished with, you can have your students do this as a cut-and-paste collage-type activity.
If you don’t have access to materials, you can have students use their devices to take photos or use a simple printable chart that students can fill out. Another simple way to do this is to distribute the same text to everyone (like a science or social studies textbook). Then, students will “hunt” for text features, record their page number and evidence on a sticky note, and place their sticky notes on labeled posters.
A Gallery Walk of Text Features
Gallery walks are a great way to display and continue lesson content with your students as the facilitators of their own learning. If you’ve completed a text feature scavenger hunt, or you’ve had students create posters that communicate information about text features, consider using a gallery walk as the next step. Student posters will be hung around the room or in the hallway. Students will then go on a “gallery walk,” where they stop and observe the posters as you do in a museum with art.
Gallery walks can be done in a few different ways. Most simply, your posters can be on display and all of your students can complete the gallery walk simultaneously. On the other hand, if your posters were done as small groups or partners, have one student stay behind at each poster to answer questions or deliver information about their “artwork.” Then, after the gallery walk is complete, have students “switch,” the observers will go to their poster to deliver information and the students remaining will go on the gallery walk.
I love this Text Feature Wall from Teach to Inspire. They had their students create one large display and then hung it in the hall outside their classroom! So, there was a learning experience through the creation of the large poster, an interactive extension of their learning through the delivery of the information on display, AND continue support of their understanding by keeping the content on display. Students from other classes will see and learn from this display, too! What an excellent idea!
Breaking News: Featured Features
Lastly, I love any idea that has students putting their content skills to use in combination with other skills. So, this last text features activity is combining nonfiction text features with a news report.
Students will find (or use teacher-provided) text features to “report” on a topic. They will write a short script to read, with a co-host if you’d like to use partners. Then, students will come to the front of the room to feature their features! Students can hang up their text feature (or display it on the projector) and sit at the “reporters desk” to deliver the “Breaking News.”
This can be done as “co-hosts” with partners, or individually. The students will not only be learning through their own text feature script writing process. But also through speaking and listening skills during the news report. You can add a note-taking component as well. Have all students record in their interactive notebooks or on a graphic organizer: Student Reporter, Text Feature “featured”, Main Idea from News Report.
Next week, I will be talking about text features activities for partners and small groups! I hope you’re enjoying this text features mini-series!
Other Resources That Help Build/Continue Skill
If you’re looking for everything you need to teach Nonfiction Text Features, I have complete units for grades K-5. Each of the units provides activities for students to build their skills until mastery. They have both printable and digital formats, complete with lesson plans, graphic organizers, passages, interactive notebook pages, task cards, and an assessment. Click the link for your grade level to get a closer look!