Teaching Text Features

This year was my fourth time around teaching text features, and I decided that it was an area that I could show improvement. I think text features are a difficult concept for young students to learn because it's typically rote memorization of a lot of funny words that they don't understand the importance of. 

This year has been the fastest my students have ever learned the names of text features, and they know how to use them, too. 

First of all, I have seen anchor charts on Pinterest where a teacher tears apart a worn-out nonfiction book and uses pieces of it to create a visual reference for text features. I loved the idea of that, but it was a LOT of work and I didn't want to have to do it year after year.

I spent an afternoon cutting apart a book and some magazines and gluing pieces on a piece of chart paper.

Then I took that baby down the hall to the place where the magic happens: the teacher workroom.

Because that's where the laminator is, and my new school has unlimited lamination, and I'm pretty happy about it. 

Each day during our unit, I introduced a new text feature in a mentor text. We were learning about states of matter at the time, so I tried to use science books about that topic to teach all of my text features. After the new text feature was taught, we identified it on the anchor chart, and I labeled it with an Expo marker. 

I didn't have room to include every text feature that ever existed, but I covered the ones that I am supposed to teach and a few extras. 

At the end of the year, I'll wipe the chart down to get rid of the Expo marker, and it will be all ready to go for next year! Yippee!

You can find my bulletin board header letters on TPT for free by clicking HERE!

Hand Gestures & Silly Voices

I like to integrate kinesthetic learning and mnemonic devices whenever possible. It keeps the students engaged and makes lessons a lot for fun for all of us!

For each text feature that I taught, I taught a hand motion to go with it. Some text features have silly voices to go along with them too. At this point, I am able to make the hand motion alone, and the kids can tell me which text feature I'm referring to. I wish I could film my students during a reading lesson and show it to you... and maybe I will someday... but for now, here are some examples.

For TEXT FEATURES, we cup our hands over our mouths and say it in a low announcer voice, like we are emcees introducing someone.

For TITLE, we put a number one finger in the air, because of course the title is the first thing that you read and therefore the first text feature that you use.

For BOLD TEXT, we put our arms out in a wide gesture and say "bold" in a deep, manly voice.

GLOSSARY: Wave your arms around and say it in a high-pitched, excited voice because you were able to easily figure out what a word means by simply looking in the back of the book!!! Yay!!!

If you are looking for a particular topic and are not sure where to find it, you look carefully in the INDEX, said in a soft and slow contemplating voice.

Is there such thing as a contemplating voice? A thinking voice?


OH. Say it in the same tone that you would say "hmmm."

We have a few more signals and voices for other text features, but those are the basics. You get the idea. It really doesn't matter what you come up with, as long as you are allowing your students to be as successful as possible by giving them multi-sensory ways to remember vocabulary words.


The best resource for teaching nonfiction text features is a good old-fashioned book!

I've created some quick nonfiction text feature assessments that you can grab here:

What is your favorite activity to do when teaching nonfiction comprehension strategies?

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