Lesson Plan: Using the Table of Contents in a Nonfiction Book

Lesson Plan: Using the Table of Contents in a Nonfiction Book

Lesson Plan: Using the Table of Contents in a Nonfiction Book

to Locate Information

Anne Marie Kraus, 3rd-4th grade Library Class

Sept. 28, 2007, 10:20-10:45

Goal: Students will identify the table of contents in a nonfiction book, and will use it to locate specific information.


  • Photocopy & transparency of Table of Contents from a nonfiction book
  • Multiple copies of nonfiction books (from a series with similar uniform layout)

Anticipatory Set:

What kind of book is this? (hold up Bobcats, by Caroline Arnold). How can you tell? (not just the cover; check the call number). Lots of students check out books about animals – why would you want to read a book like this? You might read this book just for fun, or you might read it because you need to know something specific, like, how can you tell if the animal is a bobcat, or some other kind of cat? Do you know how you can zero in on the information you want, without reading the entire book? What would help you find the right place in the book? (Show the Table of Contents in the book. Discuss- FRONT of book.)


Look at this transparency on the screen. This is the Table of Contents from this book. Let’s look at the chapters (read aloud). What are the numbers on the right side for?

Now, let’s practice using this Table of Contents. We’ll start with really easy questions. What part of the book would you go to, to find out about:

Bobcats’ tails? What do they hunt? What are the dangers to a bobcat? What PAGE would you turn to…. What CHAPTER would you read?

OK, that was too easy. Now we will notch it up.

Guided Practice:

Please pass around the papers on the tables; this is the same Table of Contents. This time I want you to be more thoughtful, read your table of contents, listen to the question, and then raise hands to give the answer. With your other hand, point to the chapter you choose for your answer.

  • What chapter would you read to find out what a bobcat eats? (Discuss inference – does it say “Eat” anywhere? No- you have to read and infer) Rephrase: what PAGE…?
  • What page would you read to find a description of a wildcat’s appearance? What Chapter? (Discuss inference)
  • What chapter would you read to find the habitat of a bobcat? Page?
  • What chapter would tell you if the bobcat has and predators? Page?
  • What page would you turn to, to find out how bobcats have their babies? Chapter?

Independent Practice

Now, please put your papers on a pile in the middle of the table. In a moment, you will be looking at these books about different countries of the world. We will be passing them around; you don’t get to pick your favorite country at the moment, but you may do so during your next book checkout. The first thing you will do is flip through for about 10 seconds, and then locate the table of contents. Then wait for instructions.

  • Now, Do you see a chapter that tells about schools in that country? Turn to that part of the book.
  • OK, back to the Table of Contents. Now you may pick any chapter, and make up a question that you would have to answer. Now turn to that chapter in the book. What question did you make up?
  • Repeat as time allows.


What did you learn today? Where is the Table of Contents? Why would you use it?


Assessment today is informal. Walking around to tables, to see the chapter students are pointing to, tells if they are correctly using the Contents. (and reading and inferring). This skill will be assessed on the ITBS in three weeks.

ICCSD Library Curriculum Standards and Benchmarks addressed:

Standard 1: Accesses information efficiently and effectively:

Develops and uses successful strategies for locating information

Standard 2: Evaluates information critically and competently:
Selects information appropriate to the problem or question at hand

Iowa Teaching Standards and Criteria addressed:

Standard 1: Demonstrates ability to enhance and support for implementation of the school district’s achievement goals.

Standard 2: Demonstrates competence in content knowledge appropriate to the teaching position

  • b. Uses knowledge of student development to make learning experiences in the content area meaningful and accessible for every student.
  • d. Understands and uses instructional strategies that are appropriate to the content area

Standard 3: Demonstrates competence in planning and preparing for instruction

  • d.Selects strategies to engage all students in learning

Standard 4: Uses Strategies to deliver instruction that meets the multiple learning needs of students

  • a.Aligns classroom instruction with local standards and district curriculum

Standard 7: Engages in professional growth

  • d. Applies research, knowledge, and skills from professional development opportunities to improve practice.