Fiction vs. Nonfiction: 5 Exciting activities your students will love

Do your students constantly get the terms fiction and nonfiction confused? Although they are likely to know the difference between what’s real and what’s make-believe, the terms are a common mix-up that even the best of us stumble upon.

In this blog post, we’ll dive into engaging strategies and activities designed to help your students confidently navigate the realms of fiction and nonfiction. Let’s embark on a journey of discovery together!

Tips, games, and resources for teaching fiction and nonfiction.

1. Pair and compare at storytime to teach fiction vs. nonfiction

Bring fiction and nonfiction to life with captivating read-aloud sessions. Choose age-appropriate books from both genres and guide students in identifying the elements that make each text unique. Introduce basic concepts through interactive discussions.

Engage students by discussing their favorite storybooks and exploring the differences between imaginative tales and factual information.

At storytime, have a nonfiction book to compare to your fiction read-aloud. You don’t have to read the entire nonfiction book, just a page or two. Talk about the features in each book and what makes them different. Always ask, “Is it fiction or nonfiction?” and “How do you know?” Make an anchor chart with sticky notes. Keep it posted in your classroom or library for frequent review.

Comparing fiction and nonfiction books. 

2. Always ask: “Is your book fiction or nonfiction? How can you tell?” 

Practice using the words. Even when students understand the difference between the two genres, they still seem to get the words confused. Encourage active participation by asking thought-provoking questions and encouraging critical thinking while students are having quiet reading time. Have them tell you if it is fiction or nonfiction and how they know. Keep fiction vs. nonfiction anchor charts posted for easy reference. See idea #4 for free printable anchor charts.

Tips and activities for teaching fiction vs. nonfiction.

3. play games to teach fiction vs. nonfiction

  • Play a fun game of SCOOT with real books. Scoot is a fun and easy way to engage and motivate students. Here’s how to play: Use sticky notes to number about 15 books (or as many as you have time for) and place them around the classroom in numerical order. Put students in pairs, then assign each pair a number to begin on. When each pair of students are standing by a book, explain that you’ll give them about 30 seconds to determine if the book is fiction or nonfiction. Encourage them to look through the pages for features that help identify the genre. They’ll write the answer on a  recording sheet. When you give a signal, they’ll “scoot” to the next number. For example: If students begin at book #12, they’ll write their answer by #12 on the recording sheet. At the signal, they’ll move to book #13. Each time you give the signal, students move to the next number. When the game is over, hold up each book and discuss the genre as students check their answers.
Books and recording sheet for playing a game of Scoot with fiction and nonfiction books.
Sometimes using real books is just not practical. Click the link below to download free PRINTABLE fiction vs. nonfiction task cards to use with this game.

📚Click here to download a free PRINTABLE fiction vs. nonfiction scoot game.

  • Play Trash Can Basketball (aka Trashketball)! Divide the class into 4 or 5 teams. Give each team a fiction and a nonfiction sign. You can download them HERE. Show a book and read the title. Teams huddle together to determine if the book is fiction or nonfiction. after a few seconds, give a signal for one person from each team to hold up their answer. Each team with the correct answer gets one point and a chance to shoot a ball into a trash can to earn extra points. You can have two different shooting lines and have them choose the one they want to try. The closer one earns their team one extra point and the one that is farther away earns the team two extra points. The team with the most points at the end wins! To speed the game up, you can have a trash can or some type of container and a ball for each team so they can throw at the same time. To keep things under control, you might make a rule that when a group gets too rowdy, the other teams get a point. The competitive nature of this game fosters a sense of excitement and encourages active learning.

How to play trash can basketball to teach fiction vs. nonfiction.

  • Here’s an interactive PowerPoint game I created for teaching fiction vs. nonfiction. Incorporating games into the classroom adds an element of fun and enjoyment to the learning experience. When students have fun while learning, they are more likely to stay engaged, exhibit positive attitudes toward the subject matter, and develop a lifelong love for learning. Here’s how it works: After showing a slide that has the cover of a book, choose a student or a team to identify whether it is fiction or nonfiction. Click to reveal the answer and explanation. This can also be used with the trashketball game described above (instead of real books). I included an editable slide for you so you can change out the book covers. Click the image to grab your copy.
Fiction vs. nonfiction slideshow.
  • Play a Jeopardy-style game show. Divide the class into 2 to 5 teams. Click the point value and the question appears. Students can use small whiteboards to write their answers. After everyone has answered, click the ANSWER button to reveal the correct response. Go to the scoreboard to award the points. Click the image to see this fiction vs. nonfiction game in my TpT store.

Fiction vs. Nonfiction Jeopardy Style Review Game.


4. Display Fiction and Nonfiction Anchor Charts

Anchor charts are valuable visual tools that provide a constant reference point for students to reinforce their understanding of important concepts. When teaching fiction vs. nonfiction, anchor charts can be particularly effective in helping students differentiate between the two genres. Keep these anchor charts on display throughout the year and review them often. You can make your own or download and print these FREE ones. 

FREE fiction vs. nonfiction printable anchor charts.

5. Color-by-code activities for fiction vs. nonfiction

Students love these color-by-code printables! I like to do these as a whole group activity because it is a lesson on its own. You can talk about the title of the book and the cover image as you go through the list. Some of the printables have phrases, such as…has real photos, or tells a story. It’s a fun way for them to practice distinguishing between fiction and nonfiction books. Click the image to grab these fun fiction vs. nonfiction color-by-code printables.

Color by code worksheets for fiction and nonfiction books.
Did you know that color-by-code activities can be digital? Boom cards are a digital, interactive learning tool. They are self-checking with immediate feedback and absolutely no prep for you! They can be used as independent practice, centers, or whole-group instruction. For these fiction vs. nonfiction Boom cards, students determine the genre of a book and click their answer. For each correct answer, a piece of the picture is colored. 
Digital, self-checking Boom cards for fiction and nonfiction.

❤️ Teaching young students the differences between fiction and nonfiction can be both engaging and rewarding. By implementing these strategies and activities, you can create a dynamic learning environment where students develop a solid understanding of these fundamental concepts. Remember to adapt the activities to suit your student’s needs and make learning enjoyable through interactive and hands-on experiences. Together, we can unlock the world of words and inspire a lifelong love of reading and learning in our students!

Do you have a fun way to practice fiction vs. nonfiction? Comment below to share your ideas.

Fiction vs. Nonfiction: 5 Exciting activities your students will love