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My original post:

Does anyone have any good ideas for introducing databases to 4th and 5th graders?  
Ideally I would like to integrate this with a class project, but at this point it 
will have to be a stand alone lesson(s).  The middle school librarian wants them to 
have been exposed to them, but I haven't had much luck getting teachers to involve 
me in their research projects.  Hopefully if I can show them what is out there, 
they may be more willing to collaborate in the future.

I had a great response with several ideas that I will be trying out.  Thank you to 

The responses:



These fairly brief computer exercises cross most sub-
jects and can usually be completed in one computer lab 
period. Most grade levels are included.


This site is loaded with resources for teacher computer 
skills for grades six through eight, and includes both 
student and teacher notes, as well as student handouts.

Maybe by using the  winter season coming upon us, you could integrate
the databases by introducing a project that relates to the library but
involves something interesting for them also.

For example, you might want to showcase something like "Snowflake
Bentley" (the book and the man).  Introduce the book and the man, then
use your online databases to search for topics such as:

*  snowflakes
*  snow crystals
*  Jericho, Vermont
*  Bentley, Wilson

Using Gale's KidsBits database, students can search "Bentley, Wilson"
and find two entries about "Snowflake Bentley."

Using a PowerSearch with several Gale databases, students can find 16
articles about snowflakes and Wilson Bentley's work.  You could have
them search for any of these terms and limit their search to
"full-text" only.  You can also show them how to use Boolean search

If the students are able to use something (like the book) before they
begin their research, they will probably want to investigate what is
available in the databases, including photos of the first snowflakes.

I've used only Gale, but I'm sure there are other databases that
contain the same types of resources.  You could also use other winter
subjects, I just enjoy the "snowflake" concept because it is generally
acceptable to all students and the concept of photographing snowflakes
is always interesting for science, art, and even reading / language

Just a thought.

I am in the midst of such a lesson.  I told the 4th and 5th graders that we were 
not going to use search engines to find research material this year ("What?!?!  No 
Google?" they cried).  Most adults cannot discern what is valid and what is not on 
the internet, so I think teaching our elementary students about databases is a step 
in the right direction.  Anyway...

Last year I showed 4th and 5th graders how to use "America the Beautiful," 
"Grolier's Multimedia Encyclopedia" as well as their Animal Encyclopedia.  Those 
three databases were used in support of class projects.  This year I am doing a 
stand alone lesson using only "Culture Grams."  Here's what I did.

We have an international theme this year as a school.  I let the kids know that 
they were going to learn what it was like for someone their age in another country 
of the world.  Each class brainstormed 6-8 things they would like to know about 
life for a kid in another country.  (School, Food, Holidays, Games, Sports, 
Housing, etc.)  I then "took" the students to "Culture Grams" and let them explore 
the Kids Edition.  They could pick any country they wanted that was in the 
database.  The next time we met, I showed them a simple PowerPoint I had created 
about life for children in Colombia to show them where they were going with their 
research.  I had a Kidspiration outline ready for them with their brainstormed 
ideas.  Their next task was to choose only three of those ideas, and collect three 
details for each idea.

After their notes are complete, they begin transfering what they learned to their 
own PPT (another template I created for them).  They are to have three bullets and 
one picture on each slide.  Each bullet can have no more than 5 words, and those 
words must be in "4th/5th grader talk."  They can say as much as they want when 
they actually present their PPT, but they may only use 5 words on the slide, per 
detail.  All information comes exclusively from "Culture Grams."

So the final presentation they give will be 5 slides long.  

1)  Title slide
2) First Idea
3) Second Idea
4) Final Idea
5) Credits page - (all information was gathered from Culture Grams)

You might see what ERIC has as far as databases that kids can manipulate.

Teaching social studies for 5th graders, back when we used floppies (my how 
technology has changed!), I used one for topics like manifest destiny, westward 
movement, westward ho! etc.  It had all the presidents and what happened 
territorially during their terms.  The kids would be given a president to research, 
and they could create a report using the database that would detail what transpired 
during that particular president's term.  I'm sorry, but I don't remember the 
actual name of that database.

Because curriculum differs for different school districts, I'm not certain what 
your 4th graders study.  Our district has fourth graders study the 
geography/countries/cultures of the world.  So one teacher uses the National 
Geographic Society's database that covers all the articles printed in the monthly 
magazine.  Her students have to find articles and cite them, although she doesn't 
have the kids read/take notes to create their brief overviews.  The one advantage 
to this is she's able to quickly tell whether kids are having trouble using the 
database, and she and I can help remedy the situation.

Idea for the kids -- pick subjects of interest to them, including sports, subjects 
being covered currently, people, etc.
Idea for teachers -- be direct, just ask them 


I have the same problem getting my 4th and 5th grade teachers to work
with me on projects.  Actually, they want their students exposed to
databases before they start their big projects in April.  So what I do
is make up database work sheets.  We start tomorrow and research
Ramadan, next week Hanukkah, the following week Christmas traditions,
and the last week of December before break we look at Kwanzaa.  One
database per worksheet, I give them 5 or 6 questions to answer and
they have to pull the information from the different databases
available on PA's POWER Library.  During the lesson I show them the
database and we do a search on Diwali... this way we are celebrating
cultural differences and learning databases at the same time.  I also
ask them to rate the resource they use and reflect on how they would
use the database for a future project.  After that, one week in
January or February we revisit the databases for Chinese New Year...
this time they get to choose their own resource.  I also make this
worksheet a Google optional and I teach them to use Nettrekker which
our state also pays for our students to use.

During library time near the beginning of the year, I show the students what is 
available and and how to get to the database using a computer and Smartboard.  One 
year I took them to the computer lab and had each student log in and gave them time 
to explore after the introduction.  Free exploration before I need it has proved to 
be beneficial. Then, when they come to do any research on the "internet" in the 
library they go to the databases.  I give each student a sheet with what is 
available and how to access them both from school and at home.

I do a "mock" research project with my 4th grade studets.  They may choose a topic 
related to something they are studying in science or social studies.  Then together 
we start using the databases.  The students are to find one fact about their topic 
from a variety of sources. We then work together to do a bibliography.  We do not 
take the time to write a complete research paper but follow all tthe steps that 
would be required to write one.

Patty Molm
Oak Grove Lutheran Elementary
Fargo, ND<>

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