How to Teach Research Skills to 3rd Grade Students

student preparing to do research in the library
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Learning how to conduct research using the internet is an essential skill for students of all ages. It’s important to teach children in 3rd grade about internet research skills and how to use the internet responsibly and effectively. This lesson plan is going to walk you through each step of the lesson and provide you with a free handout you can use with your students right away.

Why is it important to teach students research skills?

It is important to teach 3rd-grade students how to research using the internet because the ability to use technology for researching topics and finding resources is an essential skill in this day and age. The internet provides access to a wealth of information that can be used to further knowledge and expand upon existing ideas. Teaching children at this age how to locate reliable sources, verify facts, and track down references will help equip them with the tools they need to become successful lifelong learners.

Make sure you download the Jane Goodall research project activity that you can use alongside this lesson plan.

Internet Research Skills Lesson Plan

This lesson plan provides step-by-step instructions on teaching 3rd-grade students how to conduct research online. With this straightforward guide, you’ll be able to provide your students with the skills they need to become successful digital researchers.

Step 1: Teach What Research Skills Are and Why They’re Important

Explain to students that research is a process of collecting and organizing information about a particular topic. Show them examples of research projects, such as a science fair project or a history report. Describe the importance of being accurate when doing research, and emphasize the need to be careful with the sources they use. Give an example of how using inaccurate sources can lead to incorrect conclusions.

For example, if a student were researching the life of George Washington and used an unreliable source, they might come to the conclusion that he was born in England instead of Virginia. This would be an incorrect assumption based on incorrect information.

Step 2: Explain Search Engines

Start by explaining what a search engine is and how it works. Show them how to type in keywords related to their topic into the search bar and then review some of the top results that appear on the page. Demonstrate how they can use quotation marks around specific phrases if they want more precise results for their search query. Once they’ve found a website that looks like it might be useful, show them how to open the page and look around for relevant information.

Example search terms students might use for class assignments:

  • George Washington
  • Solar System
  • The Revolutionary War
  • Famous inventors
  • The digestive system
  • Causes of the Civil War
  • States and their capitals
  • Weather patterns

Step 3: Explain Website Quality and Reliability

Explain why it’s important to verify the quality and reliability of websites before using them for research. Show students how to determine who wrote or published the website and when it was last updated. Guide students through the process of assessing what kinds of evidence are presented on a website and whether or not it is credible.

Step 4: Practice Locating Credible Information

Give examples of appropriate websites for researching topics such as educational sites, university websites, and government databases. Have students practice finding information by searching these types of sites. Provide guidance on how to read webpages effectively so they can quickly find the answers they need without wasting time.

Credible research websites for kids :

  • National Geographic Kids
  • Smithsonian Learning Lab
  • Khan Academy
  • NASA for Students
  • Kids Discover Online

Topics students can search to practice finding credible websites

  • Volcanoes
  • Outer space
  • Animals of the rainforest
  • Mountain ranges in the United States
  • The planets in our solar system

Step 5: Practice finding multiple sources and citing sources

Encourage creativity when completing research projects by allowing them to use multiple sources from different types of websites, such as news articles, online encyclopedias, and digital archives. Show students how they can combine information from different sources to build a more comprehensive picture of their topic.

Stress the importance of citing all the sources they use in their final project or report. Emphasize that this is an essential step in academic research and will help protect them from plagiarism.

When quoting text from a website, it’s important to include the name of the author (if available) and the web address. For example, if you wanted to quote the sentence “George Washington was born in Virginia” from a website, you would write:

“George Washington was born in Virginia” (Author, year).

This way, you can show that the information you used came from a reliable source, and other people can easily find the website if they want to learn more.

At the end of the page, you can list the detailed citation information. Here’s an example of what that might look like.

Proper Citation Examples:

  • Arctic Tundra. (n.d.). National Geographic. Retrieved May 12, 2021, from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/habitats/arctic-tundra/.
  • Arctic Tundra: Facts About the Coldest of Biomes. (n.d.). Live Science. Retrieved May 12, 2021, from https://www.livescience.com/30692-arctic-tundra.html

Step 6: Practice Researching

Finally, have students practice their research skills by completing a small project such as writing a short article or creating a presentation. This will give them the opportunity to apply what they have learned and assess their understanding of the concepts covered in the lesson. Encourage them to continue doing additional research on their own and keep learning more about topics that interest them. If your students are not ready to research on their own yet, you can provide them with a curated collection of links to explore.

Jane Goodall internet research skills free activity

To help you implement the lesson and teach your students these key research skills described above, you can download a one-page research template on Jane Goodall, which is available below for free. This activity will help reinforce the importance of accuracy when doing internet research and give your students valuable experience searching for information online. It’s also a great way to introduce students to the fascinating story of Jane Goodall!

This template is an excellent supplement to the research skills lesson plan described above, and it can help you provide your students with a fun and engaging learning experience. With this resource, they can begin to develop important academic skills such as researching on the internet while exploring a topic of interest at the same time.

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teach students research skills with this free lesson plan and printable activity