A Study of Money: Making "Cents" of Text Features

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SWBAT determine the meaning of boldface words, and use other text features to locate key information about money - a second grade math topic.

Big Idea

There is much more to money than just counting it. Using text features allows second graders to zero in on relevant information.

Get Ready

I have a set of five paperback books by Mary Hill. They are from a Scholastic published series called Money Matters. Their readability is below second grade; the lexile level listed on the Scholastic site is 340 which is about a 1.9 GE. However, each of these books has subject specific vocabulary in bold print, a table of contents, diagrams, and a glossary.  I intend to use these books to make my readers “experts” in boldface text, subject matter vocabulary, and table of contents and glossaries.

I have a small group of below grade level readers. The CCSS RI 10 states that students “read and comprehend informational texts…. in the grades 2-3 text complexity proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.”  My challenged readers absolutely need scaffolding to read on-level text.  Using books at their instructional level to learn about text features will enable them to use text features in grade level texts to unlock content. The students at or on grade level will also learn the text features from this lesson – because the books are simple to read, the main focus of the lesson will be structure of the book – and key vocabulary introduced with boldface print.

While I am using these books, because I have them, any five books with a table of contents, boldface words, diagrams, photos, a glossary and an index would work. We are studying money, and these books will reinforce the vocabulary and background knowledge about that subject, but this lesson objective is about text features, not a particular content subject. 

Get Set

20 minutes

Gather to the rug.

Introduce the books using the doc camera. Tell the students that we have five treasures – we have to share, but these little books are very rich in learning. Don’t read the books yet, just show the covers.

Students, informational texts have a structure that helps readers locate information easily. When you read a story you read it from beginning to end, but when you are reading to learn about something, you don’t always have to read the book from front to back. There are ways to get information out of a book quickly – we call these ways text features. Today we are going to go on a treasure hunt to see what features these books have that help a reader.  

Print on the board or make a mini poster of the following:


  • What are the parts of each of these books?
  • How does the print look on each page?
  • What kind of illustrations are used? Do you notice anything added to some of the pictures?

I have twenty students doing this activity, and five books. I ask the students to sit in five knee circles of four students each. This time I have the students number off within the circle so I can give jobs to all the #4’s etc.  See resource for a description of "knee circles."

Each circle gets one book.  

Your first task is to read the book to your group, and show the illustrations. Number ones please do that.

When you’ve read the book, please hold it in the air, I will come collect it.

Don’t forget everybody, your ears have the job of listening to learn about money – your eyes have the job to notice how the publisher wrote the book. What are you noticing about each page?

I could have gone through the books with the children in a lecture format, but children, (and adults) are motivated by feeling the sense of competence that comes from "doing it myself." Besides, the whole group setting, exploring as a class, lends itself to the possibility of some students "checking out" or riding the coattails of their peers. Small groups, with assigned tasks, requires all students participate. The learning is richer.

I collect the books when all circles have read their book, and pass them out again, rotating which text goes to which group. This time number two students read. Repeat until all five books are read. (Easy readers make this possible to accomplish in a short time!)

Go To Work

20 minutes

When all the groups have read all the books, elicit a word bank of what kind of things did each book have? Some students may know the descriptors already, but some may just tell you what you saw and you will need to supply the term (table of contents, boldface words, etc.).

Ask the groups to write a definition of each of the features in their own words.  Model it with Title Page or Table of Contents. If students are stuck they can consult dictionaries. Use the prepared worksheet with the features listed. I will ask the students to use clipboards and stay to work on the carpet, but they could move to the tables and then move back when done.  As I hand out one Text Features Chart For Money Matters to each group, I start them working at a different spot on the page. That way, even if every group doesn’t write every definition, all the parts will have a description for later. There are more text features than the ones in these books, and here is a chart that lists more. 


20 minutes

After twenty minutes, I call time and have students work with me to create a poster for the room.  “Text features help readers locate information efficiently.”

Write each of the text features, from table of contents to index, and elicit the KID definitions to print on the chart. 

I post the chart in the room, and I display the student chart work around our chart for a week or so. I send the each student completed chart home with one child from each group chosen randomly.  As our class finds new text features in other works, we add to the anchor chart.