This is an activity that I use with my Kindergarten students. It should be used after a general introduction to the differences between the two kinds of books.
Goals & Objectives:
Goal: students will be able to wonder about and think through whether something is fiction or non-fiction. The "something" would include books, movies, magazines, online resources and more.
Materials & Sources:
Several graphic images of both fictional and non-fictional topics in many mediums. Real pictures of non-fiction topics, cartoon pictures of non-fiction, silly drawings of fiction, realistic looking fictional situations (real dog with a birthday hat on).
Two big signs that say Fiction and Non-fiction
Two small signs that have examples of the call numbers in your library, done in the colors you use. For example, fiction is a red E and another red letter, non-fiction is a red E and black numbers and three letters.
Some kind of a board or display (that is big enough to hold all of this when they are applied one by one) divided down the middle in half by tape or marker.
1. start by reminding students about the differences between fiction and non-fiction. Have them brainstorm the differences they have noticed. Prompt as much as needed.
2. remind them where the books that they are able to choose are located.
3. ask them if a silly story would have serious pictures? A serious book silly pictures? A non-fiction book have realistic pictures? Get them thinking in images and sighting examples from stories you have shared in the recent past.
4. place the fiction sign on the board and ask them some of the characteristics of fiction books. I tell my students that fiction books are "fake'" when they are this young because the "f" in fiction matches the "f" in fake and the "nf" in non-fiction matches the "nf" in not fake. Next place the call number example for your fiction books on the same half of the board.
5. do the same for the non-fiction half.
6. tell the students that you have a pile of graphic images that you will share with them. As s group they will have to convince you if each image is fiction or non-fiction by what the image tells them, not in words, but in the details. Start easy. I have a black and white photo of a cat just sitting there and I ask them what they think, is it non-fiction. They say yes. I ask what they might learn if it were a book and the answers range from how to take care of the cat to how it grows to how it is a pet. Then I show them a picture of a cat that is definitely ficiton. It is a drawing of a cat with a bib, a fork and a knife, sitting at a table that is covered with a table cloth. The cat is ready to cut into a big fish sitting on a plate. I really have fun with this image. They all say/yell fiction. I will ask someone to volunteer to tell me why and they invariably say "cats don't eat fish". I lay the image down and say "hmmm, I have lots of cats and they love fish!! Are you sure this is fiction?" They yell yes and I show the image again and they start to list the qualities one by one. I tell them they have to put it all together to come up with the real reason it is fiction and not non-fiction. Be sure to use humor, incongruence and really engage them so that you get all of their enthusiasm and energy flowing.
7. go through each image, finding complementing images of the same subject when possible.
Assessment is informal. It is observational. One of the neatest side-effects of this lesson is that they go around in the library and, I'm told, in the classroom for days saying "this is fiction, this is non-fiction."