Love Notes: Elementary annotation activities

February 8, 2017

Photo by Anna Kolosyuk on Unsplash

We’ve put together three annotation activities to help students in grades PreK through 5 build literacy skills while learning history.

When students read and take notes with a purpose, they have a dialogue with a text, track their thinking as they read, and engage more meaningfully with their reading.

The activities below have students focus on just one type of note, such as defining vocabulary words or finding evidence for an idea. By focusing on one note, students can build on that one reading comprehension strategy or skill in a way that helps them engage more meaningfully with their social studies reading.

The following activities are created with LaunchPacks: Social Studies in mind, but any resources you have available will work just fine. Want to give LaunchPacks a spin? Take a free trial now!

Activity 1: Love at First Sight — Grades PreK-2

LaunchPack: Valentine’s Day (Grades PreK-2)

Vocabulary Words: celebrate, legend, saint

Activity: Read the text aloud to the class and ask students to look for unknown vocabulary words, including the words listed below. Demonstrate how to highlight a vocabulary word in the article using the color-coded “vocabulary” annotation category. Model how to type a definition for the vocabulary word into the box linked to the highlight. Encourage volunteers to use their own words to define the vocabulary word as you type the definition they share into the box. Have students work on highlighting and defining the next two words on their own, or as a class.

Activity 2: One Fine Day — Grades PreK-2 and 3-5

LaunchPack: Valentine’s Day (Grades PreK-2)

LaunchPack: Valentine’s Day (Grades 3-5)

Have students answer teacher-led questions as they read through the text.

Click on “Customize” in your LaunchPacks toolbar. Find the Valentine’s Day article within the Pack pinboard view and click “Add a note” before going into the article. In your note, type in the questions that you want your students to explore or use the questions below. This note will carry over into the article view and students can see the questions as they read the text.

Main Question:

  • Why is February 14 known as Valentine’s Day?

Follow-up questions:

  • What legend is connected to February 14?
  • How many saints named Valentine are honored on February 14?

Activity: Model how to highlight text in the article using the color-coded “evidence” annotation category and type an explanation for why it supports an answer in the box linked to the highlight. Tell students to highlight evidence that they find that helps them answer the questions as they read the article independently or with you as a class.

If students have trouble getting started, encourage them to answer one of the follow-up questions first. The follow-up questions are meant to help with finding some of the evidence that is needed to answer the main question. Continue modeling the note-taking activity or work as a class, if needed.

Tell students that, in the box linked to each highlight, they should explain why the highlighted text helps them answer the questions. Have students share their answers to the main question and supporting evidence with the class.

Activity 3: Prove Your Love — Grades 3-5

LaunchPack: Valentine’s Day (Grades 3-5)

Have students use several texts to find evidence that supports answers to teacher-led questions. Add your questions for the class into a note for the entire Pack, since students will be exploring multiple articles.

To do this, click Customize and then Add a Pack note. This note will carry over into the article view and students can see the questions as they read the text.

Main question:

  • Why do you think people celebrate Valentine’s Day today?

Follow-up questions:

  • How do people celebrate Valentine’s Day differently?
  • What traditions have changed about the holiday?
  • What Valentine’s Day traditions have not changed?

Activity: Model how to highlight text in the article using the color-coded “evidence” annotation category and type an explanation for why a specific piece of the text supports an answer to your question. Tell students to highlight text in each article within the pack that helps them answer the questions as they read the article independently.

If students have trouble getting started, encourage them to answer one of the follow-up questions first. The follow-up questions are meant to help with finding some of the evidence that is needed to answer the main question. Continue modeling the note-taking activity or work as a class, if needed.

Tell students that they should explain why the highlighted text helps them answer the question in the box linked to each highlight. Have students share their answers to the main question and supporting evidence with the class. Encourage them to explain how images in the Pack also support their answers.


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Try this with your class? How did it go? Tweet us feedback to @BritannicaLearn.

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