Introducing students to the world of reference materials is crucial in developing their research and information literacy skills. This blog post includes a Reference Materials Mini Lesson with fun activities that help students understand the different types of reference materials and their purposes.
Be sure to get the handout. It includes the printables and links you need to complete some of the activities.
By engaging students in interactive tasks, students will enjoy practicing and improving their ability to effectively locate specific information in reference materials. Whether through foldable graphic organizers, response cards, or task cards, these activities will aid your upper elementary students navigate the world of reference materials proficiently.
Reference Materials Mini Lesson
Activity #1: Building a Reference Materials Foldable Graphic Organizer
To kick off the lesson, students will create a foldable graphic organizer that outlines the definitions of six commonly used reference materials: dictionaries, thesauri, manuals, encyclopedias, atlases, and almanacs. This hands-on activity will provide a visual and tactile representation of the different types of reference materials, reinforcing students’ understanding of their unique characteristics and purposes.
Activity #2: Engaging with Response Cards
In this activity, students will use response cards to participate and demonstrate their comprehension actively. Each student chooses between six response cards corresponding to the different reference materials. The teacher will ask questions about specific information needs, and students will display the appropriate response card to indicate which reference material would be most suitable for finding the required information. This interactive exercise promotes attentiveness and provides immediate feedback to gauge students’ understanding.
Questions include things like:
- Which source would you use to find the meaning of the word distraught? (Dictionary)
- Which source would you use to see which African country is the largest? (Atlas)
Activity #3 – Task Cards: Task Cards for Inquiry-Based Learning
In the final activity, students will engage with a set of 24 task cards that present various information needs. They will analyze each scenario and determine which reference material would most effectively locate the requested information. Turn this activity into a Scoot game to add excitement and movement. Students move from one desk to another, responding to the task cards and recording their answers on a designated recording sheet. This dynamic activity encourages collaboration and quick decision-making skills.
Digital Option: Boom Learning Task Cards
For educators seeking a paperless alternative, Boom Learning offers digital task cards that cover the definitions of reference materials. Students can access the cards online, answer 40 interactive questions, and receive instant feedback on their performance. Boom Learning also provides score tracking, allowing teachers to monitor students’ progress effortlessly.
The link to this free set of Boom Learning cards is at the printable handout’s end. You can get it by clicking the button below.
By incorporating these engaging activities into your upper elementary curriculum, you can help students become proficient users of reference materials.
From building foldable graphic organizers to interactive response card exercises and inquiry-based task cards, these activities will help your student effectively utilize reference materials. Students will gain the necessary tools to conduct research and become independent learners.