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Social Studies Lesson: Lighthouses


Subject: Language Arts, Social Sciences
Grade: 3-5

Brief Description

In this lesson the students will learn about the differences between fiction and non-fiction books. The students will listen to the book Beacons of Light by Gail Gibbons and work in cooperative groups to identify different characteristics and facts concerning lighthouses and their history. Once the students listen for information they are ready to play a trivia game.


Students will

  • listen for information.
  • work in cooperative groups.
  • identify different characteristics about lighthouses.
  • identify differences between fiction and non-fiction work.


lighthouses, Fresnel Lens, coastal history, Gail Gibbons

Materials Needed

  • book Beacons of Light by Gail Gibbons
  • poster board with a lighthouse picture as a central feature with light beams (made from yellow strips of paper) coming out of the middle to represent a web
  • color (preferably) copies of some lighthouses for poster board decoration
  • answers taken directly from book, typed on paper and laminated, fun tack backing (to be placed on the ends of the web strips by the students)
  • if possible, an oil lamp and a model of the Statue of Liberty (model originally was a lighthouse!)
  • posted rules for playing the trivia game (See rules below.)
Teacher/librarian may want to visit New England Lighthouses: A Virtual Guide to gain additional knowledge about lighthouses.

Lesson Plan

  • Introduce students to the concept of fiction/non-fiction books. Show students some of Gail Gibbons' books. Include some information about the author. (Gibbons has written over 80 non-fiction books for children.) Tell the students they are going to hear a story about lighthouses. Tell students to listen for facts and be ready to play the trivia game following the reading of the book.
  • Read Beacons of Light by Gail Gibbons to the class.
  • Divide the class into four groups. Tell students that each group will get an equal turn to answer a specific question. Reinforce the rules of the game.


      1. No talking when it is not your group's turn.
      2. No calling out answers.
      3. Before the designated group provides the answer, they must agree with the others in their group on the correct answer and chose one member to give the answer.
  • Have questions determined beforehand. Go through the book and chose questions appropriate for the grade level. (This step must be completed in order to provide students with the pre-typed answers.)
  • When a group answers correctly, have the leader come up, choose the answer that has been typed on a card and place it on the poster board.
  • Continue doing this until all groups have had an equal number of turns and the typed answers have all been posted on the poster board. The finished product is a Lighthouse Information Web poster board display!


To successfully complete the lesson, the students will have to be able to answer all questions thus completing the poster board web.

Lesson Plan Source

Submitted by: Joanne Hughes, ([email protected]) Mc Vey Elementary School, East Meadow, New York


Updated 01/17/2012

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