Awesome Digital Nonfiction Resources For Elementary Reading and Research

Digital Nonfiction ResourcesFor Elementary Students

It is a huge challenge to find nonfiction resources that are appropriate for our young readers and writers, so I have a great collection of resources that I am excited to share with you that I hope will inspire you and your students!

Most of the time, reading levels are too difficult and the content can be way above the understanding of a typical 5-9 year old. The nonfiction resources I have used in my own classroom below have “Read to Me” capabilities if the reading levels are too challenging. They also include high engagement content and pictures. Our higher students typically have interest levels that exceed their reading comprehension ability, so it is not always the lower readers that may need this content support.

To get any website to your student devices, I recommend two options:

  1. You can have students scan the QR code using a QR code scanner app on their iPad. On your Smartboard when you display the site in Chrome, you can use the “Qr Code Extension” that can expand the QR code large enough for students to walk up and scan.
  2. You can also load the website’s link into the feed of your LMS- Google Classroom or Edmodo.                           *Please message at the bottom of this feed or email me ( if you need help with this. It was a huge “Ah-Ha!” moment for me.


Wonderopolis– FREE! Primarily for interest driven topics beginning with a guiding question. Students can click to have the text of a “Wonder” read to them, watch a video and clickable vocabulary words that will display definitions too!

Epic eBooks

Epic! Digital eBook Collections– App and webtool. Epic is by far my students favorite digital resource. It has an awesome ebook collection with over 10,000 books to choose from. You will be amazed at some of the popular titles. Many are audio books or have “Read-to-Me” capabilities. Teachers set up an account online for free student access at school in the teacher’s account and students may pay a monthly fee of $5 a month to access this account at home. 

Screen Shot 2016-02-13 at 10.47.42 AM – This is an awesome site and one of the few lower level readability of common topics for early readers. It does require a very reasonable subscription of $20 per year for one teacher and it is limited to school hours. You can also show the kids how to have the text read to them online using a great Chrome extension – Speakit!

Brainpop JrScreen Shot 2016-02-12 at 9.32.39 PM

Brain Pop Jr.– App & Webtool- High interest, Common Core Lesson Videos for K-3 students in all subject areas.  Some free resources but a subscription is $160 for Classroom year subscription and $1,350 for a school but well worth it if you can convince your administration to help you. The lessons are very relevent and on target for standards. There is also “Homework Help”, leveled quizzes, games and activities for kids. My kids literally show a subtle cheer when I announce their assignment on Brain Pop Jr.. No Kidding!

Scholastic Mag. app    Screen Shot 2016-02-13 at 11.49.41 AM

Scholastic News Online– If your school has a subscription, you just have to login and get a password for students to access either on the app or online. All the great things we have known about Scholastic over the years has not been wasted on this resource either! Awesome content, videos, photos and even interactive comprehension page just like the paper articles.


news-o-matic_ipad  Screen Shot 2016-02-13 at 12.03.52 PM

 News-O-Matic – Free version & Paid Version -$5.99 available. Mostly Social studies topics and has “Read to Me” capabilities.

Farfaria    2016-02-13 12.10.59

Farfaria is a free app to download that is mostly known for it’s fictional genres but it also has some wonderful nonfiction topics that can be searched for in the “Home” screen. St. may view one book a day for free. It is $50 a year for a teacher subscription but think about how much more cost effective it is to have this versus paper copies that get lost and worn down. All kids can have their own copy for groups. I will say that the books do have DRA reading levels posted on them which are a good guide but a few of them I did not agree the level it was given. Another great feature is to search books by DRA level! We absolutley love this app!


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Personalized Learning with Mobymax

MobyMax Tutorials

About MobyMax

I am so excited to share with you a web tool that I absolutely love,… MobyMax! MobyMax is a powerful and efficient web-based Adapted Learning Platform (ALP) that has been a vital part of my personalized and blended learning classroom. I am constantly amazed at how they are evolving each year to meet the needs of students, teachers and parents. MobyMax offers the only complete web-based K-8 curriculum covering English language arts, math, and science at a very reasonable cost of $100 per class or $700 per school.  MobyMax identifies skill gaps with find-and-fix technology that targets instruction and they advertise that they help students increase one full grade level in just 40 hours. When a student opens a portal for the first time, Moby automatically gives them a placement test to best personalize their lessons in that subject area, automatically! The Writing Assignments portal (Explained in the video) even gives students an opportunity to write an opinion, informational or narrative writing piece and teachers can use Moby’s installed Common Core aligned rubrics to grade student work according to their grade level. Amazing!

MobyMax can be used on any device that has internet access, iPads, Chromebooks etc.. It has reached the “Wow Factor” at many of my RTI meetings when I display to parents and administrators Moby’s varied progress charts and percentage data that is collected as students progress through the video lessons and formative assessments. Moby’s comprehensive system includes multiple motivation tools, test prep, assessments, messaging, parent portal, progress monitoring and my favorite tool- Clicker for easy formative assessments that you can choose from a bank of pre-made questions, some including diagrams and photos, all Common Core aligned. Scrub the Advanced video time bar below to the 31:00 timestamp for quick access to the “Clicker” section of the video.

MobyMax is used in more than half of all K-8 schools in the United States and has more than 11 million students registered. Watch both videos below and you will see why!

  1. Getting Started in MobyMax Video. (5 min.)

2.  Advanced Moby Tutorial (30 min.)  If you do not have an uninterrupted 30 minutes to spare, I recommend opening the videos’ table of contents page (See image below) to see the timestamps on the video for the topics you are interested in. The Science portal is not included yet since it just came out in August 2015.

Screen Shot 2015-09-12 at 1.04.30 PM

 In the fall of 2015 they are adding 3 new portals for struggling readers, “Early Words”, “Early Reading” and Early Writing”. I am so excited about this! Check it out!!

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Monthly Research Project Cards with QR codes for Primary Students

Young children need a substantial amount of adult support when they first begin to research a nonfiction topic. Many of our Common Core State Standards demand that our kids have multiple experiences reading, writing, organizing, analyzing, summarizing, and sharing nonfiction genres.  I would love to share with you my resources that I have created over the years, to make this daunting task less stressful for you. I put together a collection of seasonal (Monthly) topics, we all know to call them- “Guiding Questions”, right? Most adults do not know the answers to these questions so the students are teaching their parents for a change. They love this part!

I typically take the first card/guiding question as a learning experience and walk the kids through the research process together. I get a large piece of chart paper, write the guiding question on the top and draw a “Cornell Notes” T-format, that research has shown to be one of the best ways to teach students to take notes. If you would like more information about this process, Vickie Davis, of the Cool Cat Teacher Blog, does a great job presenting –How to teach students to take notes using the “Cornell Notes” method. I love her blog and follow her very closely. I enjoy her perspective and thorough information that I can trust.

We then practice our close reading strategies together on the website linked to the QR Code on the card. We read, read again, listen to the iPad read the article to us, write down notes and questions, including sketches and key vocabulary. This written t-chart is then posted in the room for reference throughout the year.

Included in my resources below, you will get:

1.  Cards for the specific question for each month. (See sample below, I have them laminated and posted in my room) with a scannable qr code below the question, linking to a website that provides the information that answers the question including a video. 

** I suggest using the free app -“QR Code Reader” by Scan  QR Code Reader by Scan

2.  Parent Letter explaining our endeavor.

3.  A printable organizer that the kids write on and can include on a poster or project of your choice.

4.  Student Example below: I like to use a tri-folded file folder as shown in the photo. Students present what they learn, incorporating Common Core standards involving necessary speaking and listening skills as well.

6 Monthly Research Project Thumbnail Smaller.001

Sample cards page:   6 Monthly Research Projects - Sample QR page.001

Click Monthly Research Projects for Primary Students for my digital resource posted in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.

Monthly Research Projects for Primary 

Thank you for visiting my site, I hope this information is helpful to you! Upcoming posts will include: Math- Fact Fluency apps, sight word app suggestions, reading comprehension resources and!!


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