Encyclopedias, Atlases and Google: Oh, My!!

Linda McCurdy

Lesson Goals

At the end of the lesson, students will be able to name various types of resources available to them in the media center & online, distinguish between each of them and be able to describe using words, writing or dramatic interpretation which ones would be useful for which type of information need.

Using dramatic principles of mime, scriptwriting & puppetry to help students distinguish between the various types of media resources available to them and what those resources are best used for.


1. A variety of books, encyclopedia volumes, thesauruses, dictionaries, non-fiction books in varying degrees of reading difficulty, almanacs, atlases, fiction books, & tech items to display NC Wise Owl, Wikipedia, Google (at least one per students; having 2 or 3 will allow for student choice).
2. Writing equipment: pens or pencils, paper.
3. Copies of the student rubric.
4. Puppet making supplies (may include socks, popsicle sticks, paper bags, posterboard, construction paper, yarn, material scraps, markers & crayons, pencils, glue (bottles &/or sticks), scissors, staplers. Be sure to have a wide variety, with enough for each student to choose from.)


Demonstrate each of the resource types to the students. Allow them time to look through/at each to see the main features.
Have students pair up and pretend to be their resource (mime; no words!) to their partner. Have the partner try to identify the resource based on the mime, sharing what helped them the most to decide what resource it was.
Have the students write scripts for their puppet, so that it will be able to convey which resource they are describing.
Allow the students to create a type of puppet using the material that you have laid out for them. This may take a while
Have them practice with their partner, then share with the class.

Differentiation Approaches

ELL: having access to the books and other resources would help ELL correlate the items to their use & what they contain.
Students with ADD: allow them to stand or work in another area to create their puppet; allow short breaks when needed.
Students on the spectrum: I would make a point to have a conversation with the student’s homeroom teacher to address any issues that they are aware of in order to allow for an optimal experience for the student (i.e.; allow student to make decisions about what type of puppet they would prefer to make, in case of tactile issues; allow to work alone with guidance if preferable, etc.)
Students who complete work quickly & carelessly: ask them to look over their rubric to be sure that they had done all of the requirements in the categories, then to go back and reprise any work they found lacking.
Students who complete work quickly & successfully: have them imagine that their resource was an animal. Some questions to consider: is it big (encyclopedia) or small (16 page non-fiction text); heavy (atlas) or light (Berenstain Bears book); where does it live (library shelf or in the computer). Have them write a description of it & draw an illustration. Another option is for them to help another student who may need some help with the writing of their script or creation of their puppet.


To assess the success of the lesson, I would utilize a rubric as well as having students turn and talk to each other and then play a game where they would compete in pairs/groups to correctly identify the resources that they learned about.

Follow Up and Extension Ideas

Suggest that they write a reaction to another one of the types of resources available, making sure to use their new vocabulary words. Have them write a dialogue between two of the resources. Have them pretend to “be” the resource: “I’m an encyclopedia. Use me when you want to find out lots of facts about animals, plants, or places” and present their monologue to their classmates.

Additional Details

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