Lesson plan

Fiction vs. Nonfiction

Kids will love learning some fun facts about elephants while developing their reading comprehension skills. Using T-charts and Venn diagrams, they'll analyze stories and explore different characteristics of fiction and nonfiction.
Need extra help for EL students? Try the Shifting Points of View pre-lesson.
EL Adjustments
Grade Subject View aligned standards
Need extra help for EL students? Try the Shifting Points of View pre-lesson.
  • Students will be able to identify and contrast works of fiction and works of nonfiction.
The adjustment to the whole group lesson is a modification to differentiate for children who are English learners.
EL adjustments
(15 minutes)
  • Begin the lesson by asking the class about their knowledge of fiction, or stories about imaginary events.
  • Using the T-chart, have students help you list the characteristics of fiction. Write correct responses under the "Fiction" heading on the T-chart. Make sure to include the following: imaginary settings, "impossible" characters (like talking animals), and unrealistic actions.
  • Ask students about their knowledge of nonfiction, or stories about real events.
  • Under the "Nonfiction" heading on the T-chart, work with students to list characteristics specific to nonfiction. Make sure to include the following: dates, characters that exist in real life, and realistic actions.
  • Explain that this lesson will involve using authors' writing habits to determine how fiction and nonfiction can be compared and contrasted.
(20 minutes)
  • Organize students into pairs and distribute the Find the Main Idea: Elephant worksheet.
  • Review what was written on the nonfiction side of the T-chart.
  • Have students read and discuss the characteristics found in the passage in pairs, using the items listed on the class T-chart.
(10 minutes)
  • Pause the discussions to demonstrate one specific characteristic found in the passage, e.g., word usage. Explain how the author uses certain types of words like "largest" or "an average of" to inform readers about elephants.
  • Distribute a blank sheet of paper to each pair of students.
  • On your poster paper or interactive whiteboard, draw a Venn diagram for the categories "Fiction" and "Nonfiction." Write down the characteristic you demonstrated in the nonfiction section of the diagram.
  • Have students copy the Venn diagram on their sheets and fill in their own nonfiction section with at least two other characteristics.
(20 minutes)
  • Distribute the Elephant's Child worksheet.
  • Ask each pair of students to read and discuss the characteristics of the fiction passage.
  • Ask them to fill in the fiction sections of their diagrams with at least two characteristics.


  • Struggling students can be encouraged to pair up with students that are above level. Additional assistance with placing information into the Venn diagram can be given one-on-one or in small groups.


  • Challenge advanced students to do additional research to find out more information about elephants. Additionally, students can co-write a fictional tale about elephants as a group .
(15 minutes)
  • To assess students' understanding, visit different pairs over the course of the lesson and observe them as they work.
  • At the conclusion of the exercise, give each student two different passages to identify as fiction or nonfiction. Have students use the Fiction vs. Nonfiction worksheet to write supporting evidence for why each passage is either fiction or nonfiction.
(10 minutes)
  • As a class, discuss what could go in the shared section of the Venn diagram.
  • Write reasonable responses on the board in the middle section of the Venn diagram.
  • Conduct a class discussion on a reader can examine an author's choices (e.g., the choice to include imagery) to determine if something is a work of fiction or nonfiction.
  • Have each student use two index cards to write down notes about fiction and nonfiction.

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