Owl Lessons… a Non-fiction Unit to see WHOOO knows their Text Features

Every year after Halloween week, we do our unit on Owls. I LOVE to learn about owls because they are so fascinating and such beautiful birds.  In this unit I provide owl lesson plans and activities for 5 different books.
For this unit, I wrote 2 books, All about Owls and Bats versus Owls. Since we are diving into non-fiction text features, I wanted the students to have a book that they could see and use to find these features. 
Owl Lessons
Whenever we do non-fiction we begin with some sort of learning chart. This is my chart from 2 years ago. We did a KWL chart. This is where we meet and discuss our learning every day.  
 On the first day we begin with the mini book, All about Owls. My students get a paper pencil version and I project the pdf on the board as well. The pdf has real pictures of owls so the kids enjoy seeing that version too. I use the paper pencil so the children have a copy to reference. 
The focus of this unit is for my students to learn and understand what a table of contents is and what it does in a text. I also want them to know what a heading in a book is and how to find it. As you can see in the above photo, I have taken my table of contents from the book and made mini posters out of it. After reading, we put the Table of Contents back together and discuss it.  The most important discussion we have about this text feature is that it allows a reader to read the book out of order. We discuss how you can find a heading that interests you, look at the page number, and read that section.
Another book that we use is National Geographic Owls. I was able to buy half of a class set by using my bonus points on Scholastic. It was important for my students to have copies of these books so they could have their hands on them to learn about the features. For this book, we work with a partner to hunt through and complete the table of contents activities. I have also made mini posters for the students to sort the table of contents.
There are two other books that I read to my students that are non-fiction but do not have headings or a table of contents. We read Owls by Gibbons and Arnosky. To help focus on these strategies, I read little pieces of information from the story, the students have to help come up with a good heading for the information. We pretend to “help the author”. 
On the last day, we read my story Bats versus Birds. I have this as a colorful pdf file and as a small paper pencil book. After reading the book, I split the children into groups and they complete this sort together. They love collaboration and team work. We also review it together as a class using the colorful posters above. 
There are many fun craft options for the week too. It is fun to see what each of may teammates pick. Our hallway always has a variety. The owl in the bottom right hand corner is one of my freebies. It helps review shapes. We always do it at the end of our geometry unit. You can grab it HERE!
We also love to end our unit dissecting owl pellets. We ask for glove donations from parents and we gather the pellets from our local Nature’s Nursery.  They donate them to our school however we do provide a small donation to compensate. Last year we went to the dollar store and cleared the shelves of eye brow pluckers. As you can see they enjoyed the activity and were able to see hands what an owl pellet looks like. 
This unit is so much fun! By the end of the week my students know what a table of content is, where to find it, and how it is helpful. They know what a heading is, how to create headings, and where they are located.  
If you want to see more of this unit check it out HERE!
If you want to see all of my November Units click HERE!



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I’m Megan, a first grade teacher and a mother to 7 amazing children. I love to create and collaborate with teachers. When I’m not teaching, I love spending time with my family, baking and playing tennis.

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