Understanding Headers and Subheaders

What You Need:

  • A social science magazine such as National Geographic Kids or a non-fiction book of your child’s choice.
  • A piece of paper and a pencil

What You Do:

  1. Ask your child to pick an article from the magazine or open up the book. Explain to your child that non-fiction works are organized with a certain structure, with lots of information that comes in different forms-- from the body of writing, to the pictures and graphs, to the headings and subheadings. Identify for your child the titles, headings and subheadings within the book or article.
  2. Discuss how headings lay out the big ideas in the story, while subheadings break down those big ideas into smaller, more detailed pieces. Other features, such as the table of contents, glossary, and index, can also be pointed out.
  3. Challenge your child to figure out what the article or book is about before reading it! (This will prove a very cool trick to show off to friends!) On a blank sheet of paper, have your child create a skeleton outline based on the headings and subheadings:
  4. First, write the title of the book or article. Next have her write down a summary for each of the headings and subheadings, leaving a blank line or two between each point. What is this story about? After reading the entire article, your child can compare her outline with the full article. Did she sum up all the essential information? Encourage your child to use the blank spaces to add further information from the story that helped her understand the subject better. Discuss with your child how just the headings and subheadings unlocked the main point.
  5. Though your child doesn't know it yet, this important skill will help her understand what she reads well into the future!

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