Incorporating literature into the science classroom

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Letters & Science


Integration of subjects is a major goal within the classical education model, with teachers and parent educators seeking to present the various areas of study as interrelated strands, rather than stand-alone subjects. This project sought to integrate age-appropriate literature into an elementary homeschool co-op class's science course work to determine if doing so had an effect on student performance and student attitudes. It also assessed parental attitudes, in particular the extent to which the treatment modeled to them assisted them in integrating literature and history into their science instruction and how they felt about that. During the comparison and treatment periods, students were engaged in an 8-week human body unit, which included memorizing the major parts of each body system, experimenting with a variety of phenomena related to the function of the various systems, and making a life-sized paper model of the entire body with all of the major organs. During the 4-week comparison period, students were introduced to the week's body system and organs, with discussion about what functions the system and organs carry out. This was followed by a lab activity in which students explored a phenomenon related to the function of the system introduced that day. During the treatment period, classroom instruction was modified to incorporate 10-15 minutes of interaction with literature related to the body system and organs being studied, and students received literature to interact with during the week. Weekly quizzes showed an insignificant rise in scores with the treatment. However, student surveys and student and parent interviews indicated a decidedly positive shift in attitude toward the content with the incorporation of literature into the lessons.




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