external image LITERACY_20LOGO.png
Group Members:
1) Kayla Cason
2) Kim Cole
3) Martha Fowlkes Erickson
4) Erin Lewis
5) Kerrie Rebmann
6) Courtney Young

Literacy Integration

The most important goal of literacy integration in the elementary school classroom is to foster a love and understanding of reading, writing, listening, and speaking within students. At the heart of true literacy lies the ability to construct meaning through these understandings. Proficiency in each of these areas provides building blocks toward literacy that should be taught in such a way that one intertwines necessarily with the others. Speaking, listening, reading, and writing have reciprocal qualities that support one another as a student endeavors to increase their skill in these areas. To leave one aspect out of the equation would be a disservice to our students and we must take care to incorporate each skill into every day in meaningful and engaging ways.
A balanced literacy program with a diverse assortment of chances to read, write, listen, and speak in the classroom will provide ample time to concurrently work on these skills and content area study. This quality literacy integration in the classroom must include reading, writing, listening, and speaking activities that vary in range of teacher support and reach across all curricular areas of study. There are many ways to incorporate literacy activities into each area of the day. Any lesson or activity for any subject can be used to promote literacy skills in our students. Below are many strategies to accomplish this seemingly daunting, but essential task in your classroom.

Ways to incorporate vocabulary work into your unit:

  • Around the World one student gets up and stands behind the chair of another student. The teacher asks a question, and the student with the first answer moves on. If the student who’s standing wins, he or she moves to stand behind the next student. If the student sitting down wins, they get up and stand behind the next chair and the student who was standing takes the seat. This continues until it has gone around the entire class.
  • Word Whacker – place all the vocabulary or other answers from a unit randomly on the board. Divide the students into two teams. One person from each team comes to the board and they are given a fly swatter. The teacher asks a question and the students at the board have to race to locate the answer on the board and cover it with their fly swatter. The teacher keeps the score. After each round, both students at the board sit down and two more go to the board to play.
  • Word Mapping – Graphic organizers, Frayer diagrams, content maps, etc.
  • Give One, Get One – The teacher gives each student a handout with a grid on it (3x3 works well). Each student is instructed to fill in two of the boxes with vocabulary terms they learned/know. After everyone is finished, everyone stands up and finds different people to give one of their facts to and get one of their peer’s facts for themselves. They keep going until each square is filled.
  • Jeopardy – a game can be created for free at www.superteachertools.com/jeopardy
  • Word Wall – Have vocabulary words posted in the room so the students are constantly seeing them
  • Find Your Match! – Each student is given an index card that contains either a question or an answer. The students are given two minutes to mingle around the room and find their match.
  • BINGO – there are many ways to play this classic game. The teacher can provide students with BINGO boards already filled out with either words or pictures or give them a blank one and a list of words to choose from to fill in their board. The teacher can either call out each word or call out a question and have the students mark the answer. Students can win by either filling up a row, column, diagonal, or you can play blackout and have students fill up the entire board.
  • Tic-Tac-Toe Separate students into two teams, X’s and O’s. The teacher creates a tic-tac-toe board on the floor with masking tape. Each student takes a piece of paper and writes the letter that represents his team. One student stands from each team. The teacher asks one of the standing students a question and if they respond correctly they pick a spot on the tic-tac-toe board, without the help of their teammates. If it is incorrect, the question goes to the standing student on the other team. This repeats until one team achieves three in a row.
  • Spelling Bee – Divide students into two teams. Have one student from each team go to the board. The teacher will call out a vocabulary word and the first student to spell it correctly wins a point for their team. Play continues until each word has been called. The team with the most points wins.

Ways to incorporate reading and children's literature into your unit:

Teachers have multiple ways to integrate literature throughout the curriculum regardless of what subject is being taught. Using supportive texts such as trade books and textbooks are two ways. It is important as teachers to make reading fun and use skillful lessons and activities to promote reading. Using children's books as mentor texts to teach language arts skills such as summarizing, predicting, reading comprehension, punctuation and many other concepts will open children's eyes to understanding how books can be used as a learning tool and not just for pleasure. It is important for students to read and use these skills (eg,.genre, punctuation, point of view, sequencing of events) found in books to help them in their writing, math, science, social studies, and language arts subjects. If students can read a paragraph or two and mimic specific examples from the author they can then apply it. Some examples are given below of some mentor texts and how they can be used to teach specific standards.

Language Arts/Writing

  • Stellaluna by Janell Cannon- use prior knowledge and distinguishing real from make-believe
  • The Art Lesson by Tomie Depaola - identifying main ideas and supporting details
  • The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins by Barbara Kerley - represent text graphically
  • The Ghost-Eye Tree by Bill Martin Jr. - use pictures to support comprehension
  • When Sophie Gets Angry-Really, Really Angry by Molly Bang- narration and dialogue
  • Yo!Yes? by Chris Raschka - teach conventions


  • Measuring Penny by Loreen Leedy- conventions and measurement
  • Clocks and More Clocks by Pat Hutchens- sequencing and elapsed time

Social Studies

  • Leah's Pony by Elizabeth Friedrich- The Great Depression and summarizing
  • First Dog Fala by Elizabeth VanSteenwyk - Franklin Delano Roosevelt, informational texts, and drawing conclusions


  • Abigale the Happy Whale by Peter Farrelly- water pollution, read for purpose, problem/solution
  • The Great Trash Bash by Loreen Leedy- reduce, recycle, reuse and theme and author's purpose

In addition to selecting excellent, quality texts to teach specific skills across content areas, there are many strategies that teachers can use to really delve into literacy work with students. These include pre-reading, during reading, and post-reading activities that encourage students to make predictions, draw conclusions, summarize, and really "muck around" with books. Using a variety of these strategies will serve to engage your students and truly develop strong literacy skills that they will carry with them for a lifetime. The strategies listed below are particularly effective with expository texts, but can certainly be modified to apply to fiction books as well.

Story Impressions

  • Select a text and make a list of key words from your selection, listing these in the order that they occur.
  • Draw arrows to show the sequence of one word to another
  • Have students write a paragraph/few sentences predicting what happens in the story
  • Students read the text and compare their version to what was actually written


(we all know this one!)- KWL charts can be useful not only to activate prior knowledge for a lesson or unit, but also for a reading selection. This serves as an activity that can be used pre, during, and post reading. To challenge your students a bit more, add an "L+" category where students must think of a topic that wasn't properly clarified and need to explore further, perhaps researching by choosing other texts on the same topic.

Jigsaw Reading

  • Break students into group of four. Choose four text selections that students should read. Each group member will be assigned a different selection to read on the same topic. There will be several students reading the same selection, but they will be in different groups.
  • Each students reads their selection and creates a graphic organizer to represent important ideas.
  • Students that have read the same selection will meet and share their graphic organizers to share important details.
  • The original groups meet and each member shares the important ideas of their reading selection.
  • Now each student has discussed four reading selections with their peers, but has only read one. This makes large amounts of expository reading more accessible for students in addition to providing multiple points of view on the topic. Great collaborative activity.

Graphic Organizers/ Mind Maps

Students can create these to organize ideas, summarize, and compare and contrast. These can be created by hand, inspiring creativity in students, or on a computer for those technologically minded little guys.

Preview Puzzles

  • Teacher chooses a small selection of text and copies each sentence on a separate piece of paper.
  • Students must order the sentences before reading the text as a whole. This encourages recognition of transitional phrases and likely sequence of events.
  • Students should be able to provide the rational for their choices
  • During reading, students check for accuracy of their choices.

Ways to incorporate writing into your unit:

Writing can be incorporated into any lesson, in any subject, in multiple ways. Writing is not a skill that should be confined to language arts it can be included in all subjects including unlikely subjects such as math. Reading and writing are two of the most important skills that a person can have and as teachers we should strive to make sure our students are reading and writing as much as possible. Literacy integration differs from the idea many hold of it, as reading children’s books, because of the inclusion of writing. Writing can take many forms; it can be fictional, in response to reading, as word problems, scientific journals, vocabulary words and definitions and numerous graphic organizers. Student’s writings are great ways for teachers to assess the work that has been done and check for student understanding. Some examples of ways to incorporate writing in lessons of any content are listed below.

Ways to incorporate writing into any lesson:
• Journals
• Graphic organizers and diagrams
• Reading responses
• Making posters or flyers
• Writing vocabulary for various lessons
• Writing word problems
• Recording data
• Writing letters
• Mapping out steps of a process

To Sum Up...

In short, we, as teachers, must fill the classroom with quality books, meaningful print, opportunities for multiple learning activities, and fun. Students and teachers alike should read, read, read, and then read some more. Regardless of the content area focused on, students should be engaged in literacy activities all day, every day. With clever planning and wise choices, we can easily incorporate literacy into every part of the day and across all subject areas. There is simply no better way to improve the quality of a child's education and inspire them to become a lifetime reader and learner.


Banks, K. (2006). Max's words. New York: Frances Foster Books.
Classroom jeopardy. (2008). Retrieved February 17, 2010 from http://www.superteachertools.com/jeopardy/
Hest, A.(2007). Mr.George Baker. Massachusetts: Candlewick Press.
Mikesell, K. (2007). Kindergarten daily math journals. Retrieved from http://www.elementary-teacher-resources.com/Kindergarten_Daily_Math_Journals.html
Seuss, S. (1999). The Lorax. New York: Random House.
Berger, M. (1994). Oil spill! New York: Harper Collins Publishers.
Tompkins, G. (2006). Literacy for the 21st century: a balanced approach. New Jersey: Pearson Education Inc.
Morrow, L. (2003). Organizing and managing the language arts block. New York: Guilford Press.
Perez, K. (2008). More than 100 brain friendly tools and strategies for literacy instruction. Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press.
Integrating science with reading instruction. (2002). Huntington Beach, CA: Creative Teaching Press.
Feinberg, Jonathan. (2009). Wordle. Retrieved February 17, 2010 from www.wordle.net
Rappaport, D. (2008). Abe's Honest Words. NY: New York. Hyperon Books for Children.

To access the Children's Literature Database:

Go the Swilley Library web site: http://swilley.mercer.edu/
Click on the Education link under the Subject Guides
Click on Databases under the Educational Resources

Choose - **Children's Literature Comprehensive Database**