Teaching Genre to Kindergarten Students

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of working with Mrs. Kump’s kindergarten class to talk with them about genre.  The students came with a great deal of prior knowledge about fiction and non-fiction books, so we hoped to expand their understandings of genres through this collaborative lesson.

Before the lesson I talked with Mrs. Kump about her expectations for the learning outcome and gathered several books from the non-fiction, fiction, fairy tale, biography, and poetry genres.  I tried to gather a variety that would be interesting to the students.

To capture the attention of my young students, I started the lesson with the video from the Wonderopolis site for What Is A Genre?.  This video does not give information, but does have a visually captivating animation of books moving throughout a bookstore.  My hope was that students would remember the animation and automatically think of books when they hear the word genre.

Of course, we started the lesson by reviewing the meanings of fiction and non-fiction.   As we explored the books and learned about a genre, the students had the opportunity to fill in a graphic organizer by drawing a picture to represent the genre.

Genre Map

Fiction- The students could draw an animal wearing clothes or talking; anything that absolutely couldn’t happen.

Non-Fiction- Some of the children drew the moon and stars; others sketched animals.  The students were reminded that non-fiction books give information.

Fairy Tale- After looking at the fairy tale books, most students drew a picture of a crown or of a magic wand to show the fairy tale connection between royalty and magic.

Biography- Students did their best to sketch a famous person.  I showed them books about Abraham Lincoln, Mary Cassatt, Thomas Edison, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Poetry- For poetry, students drew a book with a few words.  The students were not very familiar with poetry, so I read a few poems to the students (some about sports, others about sea creatures, and some about school).  I tried to explain that poems sometimes rhyme, but not always.  Also, that poems don’t usually look the same as a story book.

In the end I had students think about the different genres and each child selected their favorite type of genre to write in the final square of the genre map.  During story times in the future, I plan to revisit the genres as they naturally arise through our book choices.

The most difficult genre for me to describe at a level that kindergarten students could understand was Poetry.  If you have any suggestions, I would love to read about them!

Thanks for reading!

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