Empowering Writers

December 2017 K-1 Lesson of the Month

Winter Animals – Where they Live

Based on the lesson:

Informative Sentences – Where they Live (Reading, Writing, and Art Connections for First Grade) pp. 90-95


Students use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose informative/expository texts. They name what they are writing about and supply some information about the topic.


  • Flip the Flap: Where Can You Find a _____? Templates pp. 93-94 (download below)
  • Chart paper, white board markers or smart board

Expository book suggestions:

  • Polar Bears by Laura Marsh
  • Polar Bears by Gail Gibbons
  • All About Penguins by Lily Liu
  • Penguins of the World by Wayne Lynch
  • Artic Fox: Life at the Top of the World by Garry Hamilton
  • Artic Fox: A Children Picture Book by Alma Ray
  • Hibernation by Margaret Hall
  • All About Hibernation by Tori Kosara


  1. Choose a nonfiction book about winter animals from the above list or from your school or classroom library. Hold up the book and discuss the cover.
  2. Point out the title – remind them that the title is usually the topic. The topic is what the reader will learn about. Ask: What is the topic of this book? polar bears Continue by telling students that this kind of book is different than a narrative story – it’s an informative book. See if they remember what this kind of writing is called – an expository/informative text. The author wrote it to give the reader information. There are no characters in this kind of book, no story problem or adventure. Point out that the cover “looks real.”
  3. Ask the class what they already know about winter animals. Then tell them to listen as you read – to be information detectives, listening for information they didn’t know before. Read the text slowly, pointing out print conventions – titles, captions,photographs or diagrams, etc. (Some nonfiction animal books are lengthy and not appropriate to read in one sitting. In this case, let students choose winter animals to read about.)
  4. When finished, write and fill in the summarizing framework on the board.
  • This piece gives information about _____ polar bears _____.
  • Author’s Purpose: _____ to inform _____.

5. Below the summary, begin a bulleted list of details they learned about the animal homes. You may need to ask directed questions and/or refer back to the book in order to help them recall the facts and details gleaned from the text.

6. Finally, MODEL how to use a detail in an informational sentence. Use sentence starters combined with a detail, thinking aloud and sounding out words as you write for the class.

MODELED Samples:

I am amazed polar bears can live in such freezing temperatures.

I find it interesting that polar bears walk a lot to find their prey.

Sentence Starters:

A _____ lives in a _____.

Can you imagine living in a _____ like a _____?

Surprisingly, a _____ makes its home in a _____

I am amazed that a _____ spends most of its life in a _____.

I find it interesting that _____.

7. Review what you did during this lesson. Refer to the book(s) again and read the summary and sample detail sentences. Explain that they will have a turn at writing their own detail sentence about an animal they read about.

8. Distribute a copy of Flip the Flap: Where Can You Find a _____? p. 93, (find the download below). Ask students to select a detail they want to draw and write about – choose from the bulleted list or allow students to look back at the book. Have them write their detail on the writing lines provided, p. 93.

9. Next, have the students draw a picture of their animal in the blank box or find a realistic picture of the animal from an online site or magazine and glue it on the blank box, p. 93. Instruct students to draw the animal’s home in the smaller frame on p. 94 or create the winter animal’s home from construction/craft paper. Attach the drawn or crafted animal, applying glue to the top of the edge only. The home will lift to reveal the animal underneath.


Download Winter Animals