Activity ideas for teaching 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students the difference between fiction and nonfiction books / texts

Fiction Vs. Nonfiction Activity Ideas for Upper Elementary

Activity ideas for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade to review the difference between fiction and nonfiction texts

If you are teaching the difference between fiction and nonfiction to your 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students soon, then check out the activity ideas below! The ideas below will help you engage your upper elementary students and help them think more critically about fiction vs nonfiction.

Looking to minimize your prep time while keeping your students engaged? These No Prep Fiction Vs. Nonfiction Activities are just the thing.

Comparing Fiction and Nonfiction Lessons & Activity Ideas

Create a Fiction and Nonfiction Anchor Chart

Understanding the difference between fiction and nonfiction is a foundational skill that upper elementary students need to fully grasp. Students that still need additional practice will benefit from an anchor chart that they can reference. Use the anchor chart pictured below (which is part of this no prep fiction vs. nonfiction resource) as inspiration.

To make this more interactive, give each student a post-it note, have them write a fiction or nonfiction text on it, and then add it to the anchor chart!

A student reference chart / anchor chart explaining the important differences between fiction and nonfiction texts for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students.

Fiction and Nonfiction Practice Through Sorts

Sorts are a fun and interactive way for students to practice distinguishing between fiction and nonfiction. Write characteristics of fiction and nonfiction texts on index cards (use the anchor chart above for inspiration), and then have students sort between the two.

A fun alternative to the sort is a maze! In this no prep fiction vs. nonfiction resource, students complete mazes by shading in either the facts or the opinions. Mazes are always a favorite with students - and it's even better when mazes review ELA skills!

Sort Your Classroom Library

Your classroom library is probably already sorted by genre. For an easy and engaging lesson idea, grab some of your fiction and nonfiction books, mix them up, and then have your students sort them into fiction and nonfiction groups!
No prep sorts and activities to practice and review fiction and nonfiction with 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students

This No Prep Fiction Vs. Nonfiction Resource includes:

  • Maze Sort Activities
  • Scavenger Hunt
  • Paragraph Sorts
  • A No Prep Writing Activity
  • ...and more!

Go on a Fiction and Nonfiction Scavenger Hunt

Take advantage once again of your classroom library! Have your students search for fiction and nonfiction books with certain characteristics or on certain topics. For example, have students find both a fiction and nonfiction book:

  • about space
  • about penguins
  • that has a picture of an animal on the cover
  • that starts with the letter K
  • that includes a prefix in the title

This is a fun and low prep way to practice sorting between fiction and nonfiction books.

If students enjoy this activity, they will like this word study scavenger hunt idea. 

Compare and Contrast Fiction vs. Nonfiction in Writing

Combine your fiction and nonfiction lessons with a writing lesson on comparing and contrasting in writing! Have students think about the most important similarities and differences between fiction and nonfiction texts and write short paragraphs explaining their thinking.

Students who struggle with writing will benefit from these tips and compare and contrast paragraph frames.

Have A Snowball Fight

Write some characteristics of fiction texts and nonfiction texts on half sheets of paper. Then, let students crumple those half-sheets into snowballs an throw them around the room. When the snowball fight is over, have each student pick up one snowball, read it, and determine whether the characteristic belongs to a fiction or nonfiction text.

Find more tips on using snowball fights to practice classroom skills here. 

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