Integrating Science and Language Arts

One of my favorite ways to cover our social studies and science standards is by integrating them with language arts.  It's such a great (and easy) way to reinforce important reading, writing, and critical thinking skills!

Ideas for Integrating Science and Language Arts

Some topics lend themselves to this more easily than others, of course, but I love being able to sneak in more nonfiction reading and writing when I can.  I tend to integrate my language arts into my allotted science time, and not vice versa (due to curriculum requirements, etc).  We recently began learning about bats which has given the students a chance to learn about something fun and interesting, as well as an opportunity to apply previously learned skills to other learning areas.

So, what does this look like?  Keep reading!

Whenever I can, I have my students practice the skill of taking notes.  Obviously, this looks a bit different in second grade than it does in the upper grades.  When my students take notes, it is a guided process.  I read aloud a portion of a simple nonfiction text and stop periodically.  When I stop, I task the students with writing down something they learned.  More specifically, I stop and ask, "What is something that you learned from the pages that I just read?  Tell your elbow partner."  After they have had a chance to share their ideas with each other, I pull them back in and tell them to write their information down on their paper in the form of a complete sentence.  We need to practice that skill as often as possible in second grade!

Note taking also keeps the students engaged as I read aloud because they are being held accountable for the information being shared with them.

This year, I thought it would be fun for the students to choose their favorite fact from our note taking session and record it in a "giant" bat shaped poster.  I traced the outline of bat onto butcher paper using a bat shaped template that I had on hand. I placed the template under my Elmo and projected it onto the paper.  Easy peasy!

I'm always looking to expose my students to as much nonfiction text as I can.  Nonfiction reading passages are perfect for our short science block (30 minutes)!  I like to use passages that require the students to go back to the text to locate evidence.  They use different colored crayons to locate key information in the text and answer questions using text evidence.

When my students answer the questions, they go back to the text and locate the information that will help them formulate their answer.  They underline the text and write the question number next to it, in case they need to refer back to it as they write their answer.

Here is a better picture of how they code the text to show where they found the helpful information.

By interacting with the text, they are engaged and learning an important skill: go back to the text to find the answer!

Wondering about the fact and opinion paddles shown a few pics up?  Sometimes, after reading a nonfiction passage I give each student a paddle and we practice distinguishing between fact and opinion.  I state facts from the passage and/or opinions about the topic (in this case, bats) and the students use their paddles to show their understanding of my statements.  It's a sneaky way to work on those listening skills too.  ;)

You can grab these free paddle templates by clicking here. To make them double sided, simply glue the "fact" label to one side of a craft stick, and the "opinion" label to the other.

Fact and opinion is a biggie in my classroom.  I think it's important for students to recognize the difference between the two since they are required to write both informative and opinion based writing pieces.  I also think that being able to differentiate between the two is an important critical thinking skill.  So, when I can, I like to have my students interact with this skill, and sorts are always a fun way to do this.

Scholastic News is also a GREAT way to bring in more language arts when covering your social studies and science units.  Sometimes, I like to use my own activities with the various issues, like this Three Truths and a Lie activity.  The students are tasked with writing three factual statements, based on what they read, and one lie (made up fact).  Then, they pair up with their teaching buddy and trade papers where they then read each others statements and figure out which ones are the truth and which one is a lie.  They love trying to trick their friends!

When it comes to writing, I tend to do different things throughout my unit.  That is, I might have the students write a constructed response.  I might have them write a paragraph showcasing everything they've learned, or I may have them write a poem.  In all honesty, it depends on what we are doing in writer's workshop at the time.  I try not to overwhelm my students with too much writing in one day. 

This year, I opted to have my students write a poem.  Cinquains are one of my favorites to use during themed units.  I like that the students have to come up with a variety of words that relate to the topic.  It's a different way for them to showcase their knowledge.

I hung the poems on our outside bulletin board and displayed them with this super duper cute bat craft from the super duper talented A Cupcake for the Teacher.  You need this quick and easy (free!) craft in your life!

You can grab the free poetry template here. :)

Scoot and I Spy (Around the Room) usually make an appearance during my units too.  Not only do the students get a chance to show what they know, but they also get to move around.  In the Scoot game below, students practice identifying parts of speech, and in the I Spy game, the students evaluate the statements printed on each card.  While these specific examples may not be tied directly to a language arts standard, they do require some critical thinking skills as the students evaluate and interact with the text and task presented on each card.   

As with anything, there needs to be balance, so some of the activities I do during a unit might be interactive and hands-on.  I usually find some sort of art project to use, and if I can, I have my students do something that gets them moving around.  For example, this week, we will "act out" echolocation on the playground, and the other day, the kids made this fun mosquito model from Fun in First.

Most of the activities shown in this post can be found here:
Bats {An Integrated Unit}
Nonfiction Close Reads for the Fall Months

You can check out my other integrated units here.  :)

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