Last Updated on February 19, 2021 by Laura
Is it possible to teach research skills in the primary grades? Of course the answer is a resounding “YES!” The key is looking at the big picture – what will your students need as they progress though school? Research skills for kindergarten and first grade students lay the groundwork for future learning and success. Think of these skills in the primary grades as building a strong foundation.
Scaffold Research Skills
As with so many important skills, we need to start small when approaching research skills for kindergarten and first grade students. But, don’t just think about your students’ needs right now – look to the future. If you begin with the end in mind (5h grade? 8th grade? 12th grade?), you will be helping your young students understand concepts that will serve them well in later learning. It is important to teach skills each year that build upon one another.
Use Research Vocabulary
Using the proper vocabulary while teaching research skills to primary students is one way to build that strong foundation for future learning. Make sure you use the same words that you use with your older students, taking time to explain their meanings and give examples as you go. These words will be familiar each year as you do more research lessons. Some important words to consider:
- Informational Text
Do a Project Together
One strategy for teaching research skills to kindergarten and first grade students is to do a project together. As the teacher, you can choose the topic – perhaps George Washington or Abraham Lincoln in February, or your school’s mascot animal any time of year. You might even want to try a holiday research activity in December. Using a simple notetaking outline or booklet, you can model taking notes and writing down interesting facts as you go.
Of course, it’s always nice to give choices when you can. You want your students to know that they can use library resources to explore topics of personal interest any time! Now, I know I just suggested that you do a guided project together, but can you offer choice within your guided project? Giving your kindergarten and first grade students the choice between George Washington or Abraham Lincoln is still manageable for you as a librarian or teacher. You could also let them choose an animal to research. Give a list of 5 to choose from, if you’re concerned about this lesson getting out of control.
Use Kid-Friendly Resources
Does your school library subscribe to any online databases for primary students? The Abdo Zoom Animals and Biography databases are excellent for kindergarten and first grade students. When you guide them through a joint research project and model searching and navigating your databases, you’re definitely setting your young learners up for future success. After the project is over, give them time to explore topics of their own choosing using the database.
Choose a couple of strong print resources to use during your research project. Blastoff Readers and Bullfrog Books are excellent choices for their text features, clear photos, and kid-friendly layout. Create a display of related nonfiction titles for your kindergarten and first grade students to explore after the research is complete.
One of the biggest joys of learning is sharing new information with others! Students can create a poster to display on a bulletin board, or a booklet to read to a big buddy. And of course you’ll want to encourage your primary students to bring home their projects to share their learning with their families!
Make it Easy on Yourself!
If you’re looking for made-for-you activities to help you teach research skills to your kindergarten and first grade students, I can help! These popular resources have been used as whole group activities, centers, and collaborative projects.
- Animal Research K-1 is fun and engaging any time of year!
- President Research K-1 is great for February activities around President’s Day.
Research Skills for Elementary Students
Research skills for kindergarten and first grade students lay the foundation for future learning. If you’re looking for scaffolded lessons to take the learning from kindergarten to fifth grade, check out the resources in this Ultimate Research Bundle. You’ll get lessons and activities for animal research projects and president research projects. Each grade builds upon skills taught the previous year. Help your students progress in their mastery of research skills throughout their elementary school years!
Be the light!