The telling of a person’s life could be one of the most personal literature pieces your children will read while in school. Learn how to teach biography research for kids in an easy way so they can write their very own biography report.
Biography Research for Kids
To obtain correct information about a particular person (famous person or historical figure), it is important to gather as much information as possible. To ensure the information you find is accurate, the sources you use should be reliable and should be cross-checked with other information.
Biography Facts for Kids
Before tackling biography research for kids, it is important they know what a biography is and what it is not. Here are a few important things to know about biography in literature lessons.
A biography is a story about a particular person’s life, whether it be a famous person, athlete, historical figure, or a specific person.
Biographies of people are written in third person, meaning it is about someone else. In contrast, an autobiography is a person themselves telling their life story.
The Purpose of a Biography
Many times biographies of people are used as historical accounts of an era. Biographies tell basic facts about people, their education, work, and relationships. Yet, they also are personal accounts and portrayals of experiences through events of the time in their life story.
What are the key features of a biography?
There are key features of a biography that make this literary artwork a retelling of a life story. Here are a few key features of biography to get a child’s mind in the flow of gathering information for a biography research project, author study, or important events for biography research.
- date and place of birth and/or death
- where the public figure lived or location of residence
- educational background
- professional experience (i.e. work, artwork, skills, hobbies)
- area of expertise (What was/is this person famous for?)
- major achievements in life (Which of the areas of expertise was he/she best known for?)
- expound on the information, find interesting facts, and include your thoughts.
How to Write a Biography
There are specific ways to keep focused when writing a biography. Explore these steps to help your students write and understand biographies.
Step One: Choose Who to Write About
There are loads of famous, historical, or note-worthy people your young readers can explore for their biography research project.
Parents can task a specific genre study of biographies or specific categories for students to research, or students can choose their own. Here are some interesting biography research topics students will enjoy learning about:
Interesting Biography Figures
- Sports figure
- Someone from American history
- Someone from a specific historical period like ancient civilizations/ ancient times
- Black History Month figure
- Native American figure
- Presidents of the United States (biographies of presidents)
- World War I or World War II figures
- American Revolution figure
- Renaissance figure
- Middle Ages figure
- 20th-century heroes
Historical Figures and Public Figures
- Amelia Earhart
- Elizabeth Carter
- Anne Frank
- Frida Kahlo
- Harriet Tubman
- Ruby Bridge
- Misty Copeland
- Ellen Ochoa
- Martin Luther King Jr.
- William Shakespeare
- Life Of George Washington
- Frederick Douglass
- Julius Caesar
- Jackie Robinson
- James Boswell
- Wright Brothers
Step Two: Do Your Research
Gathering information for research through primary and secondary sources is crucial. Compiling good research data is important and valuable for building knowledge and clear a path for learning.
Gathering reliable research helps students understand topics, understand issues, increase awareness, and exercise the mind.
Using Primary Sources
When students use primary resources, they gather reliable knowledge that answers research questions, enables critical thinking, and develop well, thought out interpretations from facts.
Primary resources are images, artifacts, and documents that are firsthand testimony and proven evidence on a topic.
Some more examples of primary sources:
- Video recordings
Using Secondary Sources
Secondary sources, on the other hand, describe, comment on, evaluate, discuss, or process what would be in a primary source.
Some examples of secondary sources are:
- Biographical texts
- Literature reviews
- History books
Step Three: Create an Outline
The next step in writing a research-rich biography is creating an outline to organize the information and content gathered.
Outlines, although many students might not think they are useful, aid in their writing process. They provide the writers with a structure to follow, making sure no important information is missed.
You can use the Biography Notebooking Journal to make this an easy process! The templates can be used to do a thorough biographical research project.
Biography Research Outline
A research paper is enhanced with an outline by organizing thoughts, understanding a clear flow is needed for information, and then again, ensuring nothing is forgotten.
Here is a very basic research outline:
- Develop an engaging introduction sentence that captures the reader’s attention.
- Site a quote or anecdote from the person’s life.
- Describe the basic identity of the person with the very basic key elements mentioned above (i.e. name, date of birth/death, location).
- Include a unique observation that you have gathered from the person or why you chose to write about him/her.
- Stick to the theme of your research paper and provide the content you have gathered in your research.
- Describe the information you have gathered in sections or chronologically.
- Discuss your person’s accomplishments and their impact on society or those around them. Maybe also mention, if applicable, how a major event changed their life or the life of others.
- Ensure the pieces of information gathered are connected or interlinked or flow well together.
- Mention the person’s legacy or why they will remain important to remember or acknowledge.
- Add a lesser-known fact about the person, something you found interesting or noteworthy.
- Conclude with a comment or your input of the impact the person will make or will leave on the world or society.
Write a First Draft
Making an outline is crucial for getting an overview of what a research biography paper will be. Look like. If done correctly, it will easily flow into a first draft.
The outline develops what you need as a first draft, and transition words will help the writer make the paragraphs and sections flow into each other smoothly. The below resources will help with both.
How to Write a Paragraph for Kids – Teach your children how to write well, thought-out paragraphs as a foundational writing skill in your homeschool. This post explores ten different steps for writing a paragraph and listing the essential parts of a good paragraph.
Transition Words – Your children will find these writing tools helpful for words and phrases they can use to show smooth storytelling transitions.
Edit and Revise
In the editing and revision page of a research biography unit paper, the writer can enhance effective headings and subheadings for their paragraphs. This is the time to:
- Information aligns with your main point or purpose of the research paper.
- Eliminate parts of the paper that do not add value.
- Tighten up the wording (i.e. if your sentences are understandable or make sense)
- Check for spelling and grammatical errors.
- Get someone to read your paper or write it, then do another read-over the next day – for a fresh perspective.
Write Your Final Paper
It is time. Type or write out the final paper. Make a cover page if needed, evaluate if your sources are cited correctly, and develop your bibliography page, if required.
Citing Your Sources
It is important to cite sources for research biographies and any other assignments students have in school. Determine what citation style is needed and teach children how to cite correctly. This resource will benefit students straight through high school, college, and any written work they may create.
Research and Citation Resources by Owl Purdue – This tool is a perfect resource for conducting research, using the research, determining citation style, and citing written works correctly.
To jump-start the minds of young girls and boys when they begin researching biographies, the websites below will assist set the stage for their journey into learning about biographies of people, their hard work, and more.
Biographies of People in History
Biography – This is one of the most popular internet sites capturing the most interesting stories about massive amounts of people in our world. You will find compelling points of view and true stories about people from our world.
Info Please – This site is a search engine for biographies by category. There are all types of categories to choose from like Arts and Entertainment, Politics and Government, Famous Americans by Race and Ethnicity, and so much more.
Time 100 Most Influential People – Time magazine has brought their Time Most Influential People online. Check out Time’s 100 Most Influential People for 2020 to help students search for biographical information, including pioneers, artists, leaders, titans, icons, and more.
Famous Scientists – Check out this alphabetical list of hundreds of famous scientists who have impacted our world’s history. Even search scientists by categories like Astronomers, Chemists, Biologists, and more.
World of Scientific Biography – Science World presents a whole section on biographies for scientists in various branches of the science field. The biographical data is separated by gender, minority status, historical periods, nationality, and prize winners.
People and Discoveries by PBS – Learn all about people and their discoveries in this databank which includes about 120 entries about 20th century scientists and their life stories.
Van Gogh’s Gallery of Artist Biographies – Although this site is about Vincent Van Gogh, it also offers biographical information on other artists like Michelangelo, Gauguin, Caravaggio, and Claude Monet.
If your child enjoys learning about artists, you can find all types of tips for an artist study, like how long a student should be on one artist study, famous artists to study per grade level, and so much more.
Biographies of Poets
All About Poets – You don’t have to be an expert on poetry to help students learn about poets and their artwork. Check out Poets.org to search more than 3,000 biographies on poets of both contemporary and classical styles.
ESPN’s Top Athletes of the Century – Use your child’s love of sports to enhance their learning experience in their English classes. Students will enjoy the biographies of great athletes of the 20th century.
Biographies of Presidents
POTUS History and Data – It is important for students to learn about the Presidents of the United States (POTUS). This site has loads of information to help with a biography research assignment. The POTUS site includes presidential facts, quizzes, and even Presidential firsts. You can even use this unit for an overview of the U.S. Presidents timeline. These president fact sheets are also super helpful.
Biographies of Nobel Prize Recipients
Nobel Prize Awards – The Nobel Prize is an international award by the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm, Sweden. This site is a great way of learning about all the Nobel prize winners and what they were nominated for.
Biographies of Famous People
Who2 Biographies – This biographical resource holds 4,775 biographies of famous people, characters, and even creatures. Search these by categories that include born today, by occupation, cause of death, and more.
Smithsonian’s Spotlight Biography – Searching Smithsonian Education is a fun way to learn about famous and notable American artists, athletes, soldiers, scientists, inventors, social reformers, and others.
To Summarize, a Biography Should Include:
Biographies can be very interesting topics and a fun way to marry various subjects in your homeschool like history, writing, reading, English, research, and more.
Biographical research for kids includes:
- Narrowing down a person to research.
- Putting research skills into practice to gather all the information needed.
- Writing a detailed outline.
- Writing an introduction, body, and conclusion.
- Selecting a good image for the person chosen.
Every person is created for a purpose. Focusing on biography research for kids allows students to take interest in the lives of others. Begin encouraging your student to take an interest and learn about others this school year.
Jeannette is a wife, mother and homeschooling mom. She has been mightily, saved by grace and is grateful for God’s sovereignty throughout her life’s journey. She has a Bachelor in English Education and her MBA. Jeannette is bi-lingual and currently lives in the Tongan Islands of the South Pacific. She posts daily freebies for homeschoolers!