Warm Up Your Winter With A Mentor Text Lesson: Recess At 20 Below

Ideas by Jivey uses the mentor text Recess at 20 Below to teach about details in text and pictures / photographs. Get a free activity in the post with the step-by-step directions to teach the skill with the book.

I am teaming up with The Reading Crew again to bring you some fun wintery mentor text lessons!

Here in the southeast, snow is a prized rarity. Seriously. It’s exciting to see a few flakes in Georgia. Sharing books like Recess at 20 Below is important to give students around here an idea of what life is like in other places. I love the book, not only because of the great information shared, but also because of the gorgeous photographs! The book is written (and all photographs are taken) by an Alaskan teacher. She shares what it’s like to go out for recess in the cold weather of Alaska. The students will love seeing kids just like them at recess, below zero!
This is a fantastic book for any grade level, but because of the amazing detailed photographs, I love using the book for standard RI.1.6: Distinguish between information provided by pictures or other illustrations and information provided by the words in a text. It’s also great for standard RI.2.7: Explain how specific images contribute to and clarify a text.

Start the lesson by reading the book, Recess at 20 Below.

Tell students that when we read a book with pictures or photographs, especially a nonfiction book, it’s important to also “read” the images. They help us learn more about the subject and can sometimes even tell information not given in the words.


Discuss how the photographs show what the text is saying. “Reading” the photos will give more information and provide a visual for the words. Especially review the photographs with which students do not have prior knowledge, and those that are not described in the text of the book, like when the students are walking to school and it is still dark out.

Complete this free activity together. Review the four facts by going to those pages and re-reading the text and looking at the photographs.

You can find more ideas and activities for Recess at 20 Below, along with nine other mentor texts perfect for Earth Science lessons integrated with reading and writing, in the Nonfiction Better Than Basal for Grades 1-2: Earth Science unit.

You can visit more blogs for some wintery mentor text lessons at the links at the bottom of this post.

Check out the other great lessons from The Reading Crew below!