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Instructional Resources - Instructional Activities
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Reading Instructional Resources Database - Instructional Activities (Search Results)

The essential cognitive elements of the reading process have been outlined in the cognitive framework of reading. To assist educators in organizing their practice around the cognitive framework, we've created a way to easily search for instructional activities that specifically address skills and knowledge outlined by the cognitive framework of reading.

To find out more about the Instructional Activities portion of the Instructional Resources Database, we have provided an overview of the database and a description of the resources from which these activities were selected.

How to use this page

You have just searched the Reading Instructional Resources Database for instructional activities that test Background Knowledge. There are 7 activities that match your search. You can also perform an advanced search of the Instructional Resources Database to search for more specific activities.

Background Knowledge

What is Background Knowledge?
In order to understand language, the child must have some background knowledge to use as a reference for interpreting new information. Moreover, if the child is expected to understand something specific, her background knowledge must be relevant to what she is expected to understand.

What does teaching Background Knowledge look like?
Background knowledge activities focus on helping the child connect new information about the world with what she already knows. Activities that focus on enhancing background knowledge help children to see how they can incorporate their life experiences into their classroom lessons. Further, background knowledge activities can help a child to see how to make use of and apply information in different situations.

Displaying 1 of 7
ACTIVITY TITLE: Book IntroductionsCOGNITIVE ELEMENT: Background Knowledge

ACTIVITY: Before reading a book aloud to students, engage them in discussion that draws on their background knowledge. Have students predict what they think the story will be about based on the cover of the book. Have children share personal experiences related to the topic. Acknowledge student's contributions and gently guide them back to the story so they can see how their personal experiences relate to the story you are about to read to them.

Present a brief overview of what the story is going to be about. Have a short conversation about the story, making predictions based on the pictures and the story line. Provide children with enough detail to stimulate their interest and leave them wondering about what will happen to the main character of the story.

For expository information, prior to introducing a new concepts or information, ask students to brainstorm what they already know about the topic. Relate what the children already know with the new information you provide.

Notes: This activity encourages children to relate prior knowledge with new information, but also, it gives the teacher some insights into children's experiences and relevant knowledge. Teachers can use that information to plan future activities for her students.

Developing background knowledge is a lifelong endeavor, so this activity is appropriate to use with children of any age.

Reader Type: Pre-readers, emergent readers, and developing readers

Language: English

SOURCE: Placitas Elementary—Placitas, NM

Displaying 2 of 7
ACTIVITY TITLE: Creatures, Places, and ThingsCOGNITIVE ELEMENT: Background Knowledge

ACTIVITY: Select books and stories to read aloud that are about many different creatures, places, cultures and things. Augment each selection with pictures, discussion, activities, and other books and stories that allow the children to revisit and extend their new knowledge.


Reader Type: Pre-readers

Language: English

SOURCE: Starting Out Right: A Guide to Promoting Children's Reading Success

Displaying 3 of 7
ACTIVITY TITLE: Field Trips — airportCOGNITIVE ELEMENT: Background Knowledge

ACTIVITY: Take a field trip to the airport. Following the field trip, the whole class discusses the people and equipment observed at the airport. Students select their favorite part of the trip to illustrate. After completing their illustration, children describe to the teacher one thing they learned on the field trip. The pages can be collected and compiled into a class book.

Notes: The airport is just one example of a field trip that enhances a child's background knowledge. What is important is to follow field trips with class activities so you can connect real world experiences with what is studied in the classroom.

Developing background knowledge is a lifelong endeavor, so this activity is appropriate to use with children of any age.

Reader Type: Pre-readers, emergent readers, and developing readers

Language: English

SOURCE: Placitas Elementary—Placitas, NM

Displaying 4 of 7


This is a variation of the original KWL chart. Before beginning a unit or theme, tap into student's background knowledge by creating a KWHL chart with four columns. Record student contributions under each column.

The K stands for what the children already know about the topic.
The W stands for what the children want to know or find out.
The H stands for how the children will find the new knowledge.
The L stands for what the children learned after studying that theme/unit.

What We Know — What We Want To Know — How We Will Find It — What We Learned

Notes: Developing background knowledge is a lifelong endeavor. However, on the surface, this task seems more appropriate for older children.

Reader Type: Emergent readers and developing readers

Language: English

SOURCE: Southwest Educational Development Laboratory

Displaying 5 of 7

ACTIVITY: Books about the desert, woods, or rainforest provide students an opportunity to engage their background knowledge of sounds and animals they know. Students can talk about the animals and sounds in other environments and compose books about places they know and would like to write about. In their books, students can feature the sounds of nature and animals from the place they choose.


Reader Type: Developing readers

Language: English

SOURCE: Southwest Educational Development Laboratory

Displaying 6 of 7
ACTIVITY TITLE: Semantic MapsCOGNITIVE ELEMENT: Background Knowledge

ACTIVITY: You will need a big-book copy of Stuart Little or The Very Hungry Caterpillar for this activity. Begin with a discussion of mice (for Stuart Little) or caterpillars (for The Very Hungry Caterpillar). Write the topic in the middle of the chalk board, and then draw several boxes on the chalk board large enough to contain text. Above each box, write categories, such as "Physical Characteristics" or "Things They Eat" or "Other Stories." Then ask the students to brainstorm items to put under each category. Be sure that items are relevant to the story are included.


Reader Type: Pre-readers and emergent readers

Language: English

SOURCE: Adopted from Literature-Based Reading Activities

Displaying 7 of 7
ACTIVITY TITLE: Show and TellCOGNITIVE ELEMENT: Background Knowledge

ACTIVITY: For this activity you will need a tape recorder, and children will need to be broken into small groups. Have children interview other students, teachers, and if possible, family members on tape to gather information about some specific topic (e.g. horses, bicycles, history). Encourage the children to add information they already know on the subject matter, and to use what they know to ask more informed questions of the people they interview. In the end, the recording will contain information that the child learned, and they can play back their recording for other people (or for the class for show and tell if the tape is short).

Notes: Developing background knowledge is a lifelong endeavor, so this activity is appropriate to use with children of any age.

Reader Type: Pre-readers, emergent readers, and developing readers

Language: English

SOURCE: Modified from Fredericksburg Elementary, Fredericksburg, TX

End of search results.
Displayed 7 instructional activities.

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