This is the first time I have completed in depth research with kindergarten children. It has been a challenge, but well worth the effort.
How To Help Your Children Complete a Research Project:
*Complete a mini unit on Non-fiction Text Features Before Beginning. The number of features included will depend upon the age of the children completing the research.*
Day One... selecting a topic
You and your children will need to brainstorm several topics to research. Try to be a bit specific. This will help when gathering information. For example: Learning about bird beaks is very broad and overwhelming. But... Learning about the beak of a hummingbird is a much more specific goal and more readily achievable.
Day Two- Four ish... gathering materials and noticing
Take your little ones to the library try to find books and magazines about your topic. You will want to choose the topic that has the most materials available for you to use.
Don't forget to check out the fiction section as well. There are terrific fictional stories nowadays that contain just as much factual information as the non-fiction counter part.
Once you have selected the books and checked them out. Leave the books in a well visited area for several days. Remind your children to look through the books and draw a picture or write words (on cut up pieces of paper) about the things they are noticing. Sticking with the hummingbird theme... Your child might draw a long, slender beak sucking nectar from a flower. OR Your child might write the words 'Hummingbirds drink something out of flowers. What is it called?'
Always encourage wonder and questioning. This helps tremendously when you get to creating an outline of the research.
Day 5... fiction versus nonfiction
Gather all of the books into a large pile. Explain the difference between fiction and nonfiction books.
A fiction book tells a story. It has pictures that have been drawn or created. The story can have some factual information, but you are primarily reading the book for fun.
A nonfiction book has facts (things that are true). It has a table of contents, photographs, captions, diagrams, maps, and much, much more. Most of the time a nonfiction book will contain only facts, though, there are times that a particular story is an important part of the information needed for that specific book. Nonfiction books are read primarily because you are wanting to learn something.
After explaining the difference between these two genres, allow the children to look through the books and decide which should be placed in the fiction pile and which should be placed in the non-fiction pile.
Once the sort is completed be sure to keep the two piles separated. You may even want to keep the fiction books in a hidden location and bring them out to read to your children as you see fit.
Day Six... wonderings and questions
Pass out the non-fiction books on the subject you are researching. Give the children about 5-10 minutes to look through the books. Each group of children should have at last 5 post-it notes to place on the pages they have a wondering.
After the time is up, have the children bring their books and come to circle spot. Allow children to ask their questions using specific pages from the text. Record the questions on a chart tablet.
Day Seven... selecting the content for your book and writing the content page
Display the chart tablet with the questions from the previous day. Ask the children... "What kind of information did you notice you could find in the books we looked at yesterday?" Pull out several books and read from the table of contents.
After the children have gone over the type of information available for their research, draw their attention to the question chart. Explain that you are going to read the questions to them again. If they think the question can be answered with one of the available resource, the child should place a thumbs up over his/her heart. If not, place a thumbs down over the heart.
As you are going through the list, mark an X on all questions that the children did not feel they would be able to answer using the available resources. If you notice anything that your would like included or something you feel might be hard to research, have the children explain their reasoning for the choice they mad eon that particular question.
Sometimes having a brief discussion can clarify for both you and the children. At that point you will have to help them narrow down their research to a manageable few.
Day Eight... deciding on non-fiction features to be included in the book and creating an example of the first topic entry
Come prepared with the features of non-fiction you would prefer to include in your research booklet. Have examples of the features mark in various sources to show to the class.
Show a specific feature and discuss how the author of the book used this feature to enhance learning. Looking at the questions that you will explore have the class decide on which question they feel would benefit from the use of that specific non-fiction feature.
Go through and do this for every feature you want to include. Make sure each question has at least one feature to be used on that section of the booklet. If all else fails, you can include a title or heading on that particular page.
For a detailed description on how to create a research booklet, check out my post titled: Creating a Research Booklet.
Day Nine- Ten... research topic 1 and 2 and record information
Before the lesson begins read the questions you will be addressing during the lesson. Give each child a piece of paper and pencil to draw or record the answers as they listen to you read. Read from several different sources selecting the passages that pertain to the information you are seeking.
At some point during the lesson, refer to the table of contents and/or index to locate the information. This will help children realize that they do not have to read a non-fiction book from front to back. It is okay to skip around and locate what you are looking for.
At the end of the lesson, have children share out their findings. Record comments on a chart tablet and look back into text to verify. This will help you make sure information is accurate.
Day Eleven... show examples of ways to record findings and children completing topics 1 and 2 for book
Already have several examples of how to record findings in the research booklet. Show the examples to the class and ask for questions. Before you send them off to complete the appropriate sections go over the information learned form the previous day.
You may choose to help the class fill in the table of contents now or at the end of the project. I found it to be easier to complete the table of contents at the end whole group.
Day 12- End... continue as above until entire content of the book has been covered and the children have completed their nonfiction research book