articles / Homeschooling / Lesson plans

Informative writing: Research project

Josiah is interested in all things science. This is why even though he is in Kindergarten I’ve made science class a priority. For the first part of the year we worked through  science book that I got at the local Christian/school supply store. Once we got finished with that I knew we were going to have to switch gears. One of the things I’m doing is building my own curriculum around The Magic School Bus series. The series is on Netflix and it works out really well centering lessons around this show.

The other thing I’m doing, in order to encourage his love for learning and introduce good research and writing skills, is informative “reports” every other week. Basically, one week we will do a science lesson based on what he should be learning in Kindergarten according to the state and then the next week he is free to explore any scientific topic he wants.

Here’s a brief rundown of what I had him do:

  • We brainstorm together (this could be done individually for an older student) about different science topics he could write about.
  • Once he had three ideas (wolves, dogs, lions), he picked one to research. He chose wolves.
  • Josiah sat down and listed all of the things he already knew about wolves.
  • Then we went to the library to look for books about wolves (since he’s so little I looked online ahead of time to guide him to where the books about wolves were).
  • We went through the books we had and wrote down important facts that he didn’t know about.
  • I then helped him separate those facts into important three important topics for his report (what wolves look like, where they live, what they eat).
  • We then talked about what a title page is and what a table of contents is.
  • After that he started on his 5-page report on wolves.

Now before you start bashing me for teaching over his head, his report like I said had a title page (we brainstormed names together and he ended up choosing one on his own) and then we worked a title page together. Each page after that has a picture that he drew along with the few facts that he learned.

Josiah's facts about wolves.

Josiah’s facts about wolves.

It is important, even at this age, for him to do projects like this. First of all he is getting a foundation for research. I may be helping him do most of it, but the more he does it the more he will understand the process and eventually he will be able to confidently do research on his own. He is also discovering that he has some control over what he is learning in school. Seriously, why should I dictate 100% of what he’s learning? In public school once you’re in junior high you start choosing what types of classes you want to take. This is so you can discover what you really love in life. Why should we wait until they are 13 years old before allowing them to explore topics of their choice?

Something else that is really important is that he is seeing the correlation between writing and science. He is learning that writing has a purpose — to communicate. In writing his little “reports” he is researching a topic and finding a way to communicate it to others. Right now his means of communication is verbalizing his thoughts as he draws pictures. Eventually he will be able to communicate by doing self-led projects, reports, etc.

Another great thing about doing these “reports” every other week is that it slows him down a little bit. Josiah tends to breeze through school work. So, by only teaching science by the guidelines every other week I’m extending how long the science year will be. Now of course for those students that don’t go as fast you may want to modify this and possibly choose topics for them or make sure the guidelines fit together with the reports or just go with the flow and realize that they will learn everything that they need to.

This first time around teaching him about title and table of contents and research was a little bit rough, but six weeks from now and six months from now he will have a good grasp on how to do what he needs to do. And that’s what we want. We want them to master concepts before moving on to the next thing.

Here’s a copy of the lesson plans that I used: Unit 4 Informative writing.

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