How to Teach Research Skills to Elementary Students

Research skills are incredibly important in the world we live in today.  When we come across a problem or a question, what do we do? We quickly search online to find the answer.  We are using our research skills while we are doing this. Read below to learn about how we can prepare our twenty-first century learners for the ever-changing world we live in today by equipping them with research skills and offering opportunities to apply these skills to research projects.
Learn how to teach research skills to your elementary students from this Clutter-Free Classroom blog post written for first, second, third, fourth, and fifth grade teachers. It's packed with lesson and project ideas to help you start your planning. Check it out now! #elementaryclassroom #researchskills #elementaryresearchskills

This blog post will...
  • explain what research skills are and identify which research skills your elementary students need to be proficient in.
  • list the TEKS and Common Core standards that relate to research.
  • suggest 20 research mini lesson ideas.
  • identify what the research steps are.
  • recommend research topics and resources that are appropriate for your elementary students in kindergarten, first, second, third, fourth, and fifth grade.  

What are Research Skills?
Research skills are the abilities to search for information about a topic, evaluate that information efficiently, and share findings in an organized way.


What Research Skills do Elementary Students Need?
Your elementary students are required to learn the following research skills if your state uses the Common Core, a version of it, or TEKS.  Read below to learn what specific research standards your grade level covers.


Research Standards in Common Core

Kindergarten
ELA.W.K.7: Participate in shared research and writing projects (e.g., explore a number of books by a favorite author and express opinions about them).
ELA.W.K.8: With guidance and support from adults, recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.

First Grade
ELA.W.1.7: Participate in shared research and writing projects (e.g., explore a number of "how-to" books on a given topic and use them to write a sequence of instructions).
ELA.W.1.8: With guidance and support from adults, recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.

Second Grade
ELA.W.2.7: Participate in shared research and writing projects (e.g., read a number of books on a single topic to produce a report; record science observations).
ELA.W.2.8: Recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.

Third Grade
ELA.W.3.7: Conduct short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.
ELA.W.3.8: Recall information from experiences or gather information from print and digital sources; take brief notes on sources and sort evidence into provided categories.

Fourth Grade
ELA.W.4.7: Conduct short research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.
ELA.W.4.8: Recall relevant information from experiences or gather relevant information from print and digital sources; take notes and categorize information, and provide a list of sources. 
ELA.4.9: Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
ELA.4.9.B: Apply grade 4 Reading standards to informational texts (e.g., "Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text").

Fifth Grade
ELA.W.5.7: Conduct short research projects that use several sources to build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.
ELA.W.5.8: Recall relevant information from experiences or gather relevant information from print and digital sources; summarize or paraphrase information in notes and finished work, and provide a list of sources.
ELA.W.5.9: Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
ELA.W.5.9.B: Apply grade 5 Reading standards to informational texts (e.g., "Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text, identifying which reasons and evidence support which point[s]"").


Research Standards in TEKS
Kindergarten
TEKS 12A: Generate questions for formal and informal inquiry with adult assistance.
TEKS 12B: Develop and follow a research plan with adult assistance.
TEKS 12C: Gather information from a variety of sources with adult assistance.
TEKS 12D: Demonstrate understanding of information gathered with adult assistance.
TEKS 12E: Use an appropriate mode of delivery, whether written, oral, or multimodal, to present results.

First Grade
TEKS 13A: Generate questions for formal and informal inquiry with adult assistance.
TEKS 13B: Develop and follow a research plan with adult assistance.
TEKS 13C: Identify and gather relevant sources and information to answer the questions with adult assistance.
TEKS 13D: Demonstrate understanding of information gathered with adult assistance.
TEKS 13E: Use an appropriate mode of delivery, whether written, oral, or multimodal, to present results.

Second Grade
TEKS 13A: Generate questions for formal and informal inquiry with adult assistance.
TEKS 13B: Develop and follow a research plan with adult assistance.
TEKS 13C: Identify and gather relevant sources and information to answer the questions.
TEKS 13D: Identify primary and secondary sources.
TEKS 13E: Demonstrate understanding of information gathered.
TEKS 13F: Cite sources appropriately.
TEKS 13G: Use an appropriate mode of delivery, whether written, oral, or multimodal, to present results.

Third Grade
TEKS 13A: Generate questions on a topic for formal and informal inquiry.
TEKS 13B: Develop and follow a research plan with adult assistance.
TEKS 13C: Identify and gather relevant information from a variety of sources.
TEKS 13D: Identify primary and secondary sources.
TEKS 13E: Demonstrate understanding of information gathered.
TEKS 13F: Recognize the difference between paraphrasing and plagiarism when using source materials.
TEKS 13G: Create a works cited page.
TEKS 13H: Use an appropriate mode of delivery, whether written, oral, or multimodal, to present results.

Fourth Grade
TEKS 13A: Generate and clarify questions on a topic for formal and informal inquiry.
TEKS 13B: Develop and follow a research plan with adult assistance.
TEKS 13C: Identify and gather relevant information from a variety of sources.
TEKS 13D: Identify primary and secondary sources.
TEKS 13E: Demonstrate understanding of information gathered.
TEKS 13F: Recognize the difference between paraphrasing and plagiarism when using source materials.
TEKS 13G: Develop a bibliography.
TEKS 13H: Use an appropriate mode of delivery, whether written, oral, or multimodal, to present results.

Fifth Grade
TEKS 13A: Generate and clarify questions on a topic for formal and informal inquiry.
TEKS 13B: Develop and follow a research plan with adult assistance.
TEKS 13C: Identify and gather relevant information from a variety of sources.
TEKS 13D: Understand credibility of primary and secondary sources.
TEKS 13E: Demonstrate understanding of information gathered.
TEKS 13F: Differentiate between paraphrasing and plagiarism when using source materials.
TEKS 13G: Develop a bibliography.
TEKS 13H: Use an appropriate mode of delivery, whether written, oral, or multimodal, to present results.


20 Research Mini Lesson Ideas
  • Research and What it Looks Like
  • The Steps in the Research Process
  • Types of Resources
  • Text Features in Websites
  • How to Find Resources on the Internet
  • Text Features in Non-Fiction Texts
  • How to Find Information in Non-Fiction Books
  • How to Use an Encyclopedia
  • How to Conduct an Interview with an Expert
  • How to Read a Newspaper and Get Information from it
  • How to Preview a Text for Research
  • How to Evaluate a Resource to Determine if it is Reliable
  • How to Cite Sources
  • Facts vs. Opinions
  • How to Take Notes
  • How to Paraphrase
  • How to Summarize
  • How to Organize Information
  • How to Write Like an Informational Writer
  • How to Present Findings


What are the Research Steps for Elementary Students?
1. Choose a topic.
2. Search for information.
3. Organize information.
4. Share information.


Ideas for Elementary School Research Topics
  • Ocean Animals: Oyster, tuna, cod, grouper, shrimp, barnacle, barracuda, shark, bass, whale, lobster, starfish, salmon, clam, conch, coral, crab, sea otter, dolphin, eel, seal, sea turtle, flounder, octopus, sea star, haddock, jellyfish, krill, manatee, marlin, seahorse, sea otter, sea cucumber, sea lion, sea urchin, stingray, squid, swordfish, and walrus
  • Land Animals: Aardvark, elephant, frog, dog, tortoise, ant, anteater, antelope, fox, rabbit, baboon, camel, badger, owl, bat, bear, beaver, bison, rhinoceros, spider, bobcat, buffalo, bumble bee, butterfly, cat, chameleon, cheetah, chicken, chipmunk, cockroach, cougar, cow, coyote, gorilla, deer, donkey, dragonfly, eagle, emu, ferret, flamingo, goat, goose, hedgehog, heron, hippopotamus, horse, hummingbird, hyena, iguana, jaguar, kangaroo, koala, lemur, leopard, lion, llama, meerkat, mongoose, monkey, moth, mouse, mule, panther, parrot, peacock, pelican, peacock, pheasant, pig, platypus, porcupine, possum, puma, quail, raccoon, rattlesnake, sheep, skunk, sloth, squirrel, swan, termite, tiger, turkey, vulture, walrus, weasel, wolf, woodpecker, yak, and zebra
  • Endangered Species: Bengal tiger, polar bear, Pacific walrus, Magellanic penguin, leatherback turtle, bluefish tuna, mountain gorilla, monarch butterfly, Javan rhinoceros, giant panda, amur leopard, sei whale, Asian elephant, sumatran elephant, pangolin, African wild dog, amur tiger, blue whale, bonobo, chimpanzee, dugong, Indus river dolphin, orangutan, red panda, sea lion, vaquita, whale shark, yangtze finless porpoise, North Atlantic right whale, and yellowfish tuna
  • U.S. States: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming


Research Websites for Elementary Students

Learn how to teach research skills to your elementary students from this Clutter-Free Classroom blog post written for first, second, third, fourth, and fifth grade teachers. It's packed with lesson and project ideas to help you start your planning. Check it out now! #elementaryclassroom #researchskills #elementaryresearchskills


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