Teaching Science Fiction? You’ll Love These Kid-Friendly Passages

Teaching science fiction? Kick off your genre study with kid-friendly reading passages. Explore futuristic and realistic elements. Then ask kids to write their own sci-fi stories. You’ll love the results!

Ms. Sneed Begins Teaching Science Fiction

Our favorite fourth grade teacher stood in front of her class. “Good morning, everyone,” called Ms. Sneed. “Today we’re getting started on a new genre study: science fiction.”

“Awesome! Sci-fi!” called a student in the back of the room.

Teaching Science Fiction Elements

Ms. Sneed smiled. “Okay, you know about this genre. Have you ever seen a sci-fi movie?” She signaled that they could call out freely.

Star Wars!”




“What makes these movies science fiction?” she asked.

Her students suggested lots of ideas: robots, faraway planets, things from the future.

Finally, Ms. Sneed slid an anchor chart onto the projector. “As you suggested,” she said, “science fiction uses futuristic elements. Most of the time, however, they’re mixed with things that are realistic. For example, the characters in E.T. include an alien and average humans. The setting is here on Earth in present times. And the plot mixes human ingenuity with tools of the future.”

Begin teaching science fiction with these anchor charts. Kids learn that this genre can have both futuristic and realistic elements.
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Teaching Science Fiction with Age-Appropriate Reading Passages

Over the course of the next week, Ms. Sneed’s explored the genre with five reading passages:

  • “The Homework Problem” (2 pages) – Horatio’s robot transfers silly pictures to his teacher instead of his writing assignment. What will he do?
  • “Runaway Seapod” (3 pages) – Soba and her father travel underwater to a join a colony of kelp farmers. Unfortunately, Soba’s seapod bedroom breaks free during the night. Can a nearby humpback whale help her?
  • “A Story of Friendship” (2 pages) – Miki lives on Europa, a frozen moon of Jupiter. Her best friend starts hanging around with a robot. How will this friendship problem be resolved?
  • “Late Work” (4 pages) – Jared accidentally leaves his backpack at the bus stop, which means late work again. When he retrieves his backpack that afternoon, he finds a small alien inside. Can he help Zynox meet his transport home the next morning? Summarizing and answering questions for this story require more inference than usual.
  • “Beth and the Twilight Star” by Richard M. Elam, public domain(6 pages) – In this present-day story, Beth Harrison and her father search for dead cactus branches in the Arizona desert. Beth wanders away and meets a girl from a planet far away – or does she? In this story, some evidence supports the idea that Beth imagined the encounter after a bump on the head; other evidence counters this notion.

After each story, Ms. Sneed asked, “Did the problem involve technology?” Of course, it always did in some way.

Sometimes she asked them to organize the elements in a graphic organizer. Other times she required comprehension questions. But their favorite times occurred when she asked them to draw pictures of the futuristic machines or settings in the story. That was when Ms. Sneed enjoying teaching science fiction the most.

Kids read five age-appropriate science fiction passages.

Teaching Science Fiction Writing

The following week, Ms. Sneed was ready for science fiction writing.

Choosing a Setting and Imagining Tools of the Future

Ms. Sneed had carefully considered the sequence for teaching science fiction writing. First, her students chose a realistic or futuristic setting for their story. Second, they imagined tools of a future that would appear in the passage. Some kids added robots as well.

Developing the Plot and Characters

Next, kids considered the problem. (Ms. Sneed reminded them that problems in sci-fi were often with technology). They plotted their tales on story arc templates. Finally, they developed their characters.

As Ms. Sneed circulated around the classroom, she reflected on teaching science fiction. Not only did it grab kids’ attention, the reading-writing combination let her reinforce some important skills!

When teaching science fiction writing, use templates to guide the process.

The next day, the students drafted their stories. Using their organizers, the process was seamless. Along the way, they shared cool futuristic features with their neighbors.


Over the next few days, Ms. Sneed continued teaching science fiction writing. Her students worked on varying sentence structure, improving word choice, and adding transitions. After that, they used checklists to edit their work.

After kids write their sci-fi pieces, ask them to improve by varying sentences and word choice.

Enjoy Teaching Science Fiction

Finally, Ms. Sneed’s class typed the final drafts of their stories, added images, and printed their finished work.

“These are sensational!” the teacher exclaimed. Then, as usual, she created a big display in the hall. As she stood back and admired their futuristic masterpieces, a smile spread across her face. Yes, teaching science fiction was fun – and educational.

The Power of Genre Studies

Whether you’re teaching science fiction, realistic fiction, historical fiction, humorous fiction, mysteries, mythologies, or fables, genre studies engage students like never before. When you scaffold learning from reading short stories to writing, kids have fun while honing their ELA skills.

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