Teaching our students how to identify and understand nonfiction text features plays a huge role when helping our students comprehend informational text. Text features are visual aids. They provide additional information about the text and guide students to make new connections with what they’re reading.
Text Feature Activity Bundle
This text feature bundle includes fun, hands-on activities to teach and review nonfiction text features with your students. Inside you’ll find task cards, center activities, board games, text feature surgery materials, worksheets, text feature posters, and more!
How do you Teach Text Features?
Introducing 1-3 text features a week is a great starting point for younger learners. First, students should be able to identify the different types of text features within a nonfiction text. What are they called?
Then, students should be working towards understanding each text feature’s purpose and how they help us navigate the text. Here are some questions to ask:
What is the purpose of this text feature?
How does the text feature help us visualize what the text is stating?
Does this text feature provide extra information about the text or is it used to support something mentioned in the text?
I love using hands-on activities to introduce and review nonfiction text features with elementary students. Here are five fun text feature activities to engage your 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade students.
1. Introduce Text Features with Post-its
One of my favorite tools for having students work with text features is Post-its. Post-its are perfect for having students label, annotate, and explain their thinking. Here are some ways that we use them in my classroom.
It’s important that we give students the opportunity to recognize text features in the texts they read. Although many of our students have read texts with text features, it’s possible that they’ve skimmed through or skipped over them completely while reading. Explicitly drawing attention to these features helps remind students to use them as tools to make meaning of what they’re reading.
Before reading, have your class skim through the pages of the text, stopping to point out the text features they see. Ask students to share how they think each feature will support the text. After your discussion, have students label the text features using Post-its.
While students are reading, pause after each section. Ask students how each text feature supports that portion of the text, and discuss student answers as a class. After, allow students to add details to their Post-it explaining how they believe the text feature supports the text.
2. Student-Made Text Feature Anchor Charts
If you’ve been here for a while, then you know how much I love incorporating movement in everyday lessons! One way that I do this while teaching text features is by having my students complete a group scavenger hunt.
To prepare for the group scavenger hunt, I hang large sheets of chart paper around the room and write the name of a text feature on each sheet. Each group of students is given a stack of sticky notes.
Students work in groups to search through different nonfiction texts to find examples of each text feature. They write the name of the text and the page number of where they found it and stick their sticky note on the chart paper.
FREE Text Feature Anchor Chart Headers
These pre-made text feature chart headers are easy to use on your text feature anchor charts.
3. Text Feature Surgery Classroom Transformation
One of the most exciting days in my classroom each year is Text Feature Surgery day. Students use surgical hair nets, gowns, masks, and gloves to participate in this classroom transformation activity where they search through magazines for text features.
Each student is given a booklet that lists each type of text feature. Students work with their groups to locate each type of text feature within the magazines at their tables. Once students find one, they cut it out and glue it into their booklet on the corresponding page.
4. Text Feature Matching
When it comes to learning text features, we don’t just want students to recognize what they look like, but also want them to know what purpose each one serves. A way to help students practice this is by having them play a text feature matching game.
To play, students must match the text feature’s name with the definition and an example. The goal is for students to put all three pieces together. Give students the opportunity to match independently, with a partner, or in a small group.
5. Text Feature Board Games
I always appreciate opportunities for students to learn through play. Incorporating board games to review skills and concepts is a perfect way to accomplish that!
These text feature board games come with 32 multiple choice text feature task cards and are perfect for 2nd-4th grade students. Each card encourages students to interpret the text feature and explain how it enhances the text. They are self-checking, so students can simply flip the card over to see if they answered correctly!
This is a great game to incorporate during your literacy centers since students will be working in small groups. On their turn, students will pick up a card and answer the text feature question. If answered correctly, roll the die to move around the board. These text feature board games are available in insect and shark-theme!
6. Create Your Own Text Features
During our text features unit, we spend a lot of time labeling and identifying. Because of that, I think it’s important to extend learning by having students create their own text features.
For this, I give students a nonfiction text feature worksheet with a passage to read. In the spaces where text features (such as a heading, subheading, caption, fact box, diagram, or glossary) usually are, there are blank boxes. Students have the challenge of reading the text and then creating their own text features to fill the blank boxes.
Students are essentially the ‘authors’ of the text trying to help the reader make meaning of the text. I love using this activity to challenge higher-achieving students that have already mastered their understanding of text features. It gives students the opportunity to show what they know about each text feature and how to make it useful for the reader.
Text Feature Activity Bundle
I hope these activities help make teaching text features a lot more fun and hands-on for your students! Do you have any favorite text feature activities? Drop them below in the comments.