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Writing A Bibliography Elementary

Level: Elementary school, Middle school

Length: 3:15

Notes: Citations are in MLA 8th edition

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Plagiarism: It’s a tough word for young students to read and understand, but it also comes with some scary consequences. Consequences can include teacher, parent, and/or administrator intervention, a failed grade, and in some cases, even school expulsion. The best way to prevent it? Teach your students, while they’re at a young age, to be responsible researchers. Teaching your students to include citations in their research projects is an essential, lifelong skill that will prevent plagiarism, provide self-confidence in the creation and submission of a research project, and also keep those scary consequences for them at bay.

Citations for Beginners was developed to help young researchers understand:

  • what plagiarism is
  • why citations are created (to acknowledge or give credit to the original author, to allow others to find the source themselves, and to demonstrate to your instructor that you’re capable of locating high quality resources)
  • the format and components of a citation in MLA format
  • the purpose of using citation generator websites, such as EasyBib, to develop citations

Use this video in a whole group setting to serve as an introduction to the citation process, assign students to watch it at home for homework as a “flipped classroom” activity, or collaborate with your school librarian to develop extension activities. The possibilities are endless and learning about citations is vital to becoming a responsible and ethical researcher.

Believe it or not, elementary students aren’t too young to use citation generator websites, such as EasyBib.com. Its simple design allows for young students to quickly and easily cite their sources. Students are capable of creating citations for books, websites, magazine articles, videos, and many other sources they may use while researching. Students can copy and paste the citations into their research project or export them to their Google Docs or Microsoft Word template.

Looking for more videos to help with the research process? Be on the lookout for more coming your way! We’re planning on rolling out videos related to the research process and plagiarism in the months to come! Subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to receive our new and exciting resources for educators.


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My 4th and 5th grade teachers have been collaborating with me over the last two months to plan research projects for their students, and to my great surprise our biggest sticking point has been what citation format to use!

I was prepared to share my handy list of online citation creation sites with teachers (see below), and explain how using a “citation machine” would help beginning researchers learn the proper format by seeing it in action.  What I wasn’t prepared for was the teachers not knowing which “proper format” they wanted their students to use.  None of the student textbooks or teacher guides they are using provide any instructions for creating entries for a Works Cited page!

We finally decided to go with a modified (aka, simplified) format that would provide title, author (or for encyclopedias, Vol #), date, and URL for web resources.  I’m still not sure whether starting them off slowly with just the basic information is a good idea or not.  I know that when they hit middle school they’ll need to provide the full citation for every resource they use in a research project, so should we be teaching that now?  Or is it okay to ease them into it?

I’d love to hear how other elementary schools are teaching citations, and why you’re doing it the way you’re doing it.  Please leave a comment if you are willing to share!

My Top 3 Free Citation Websites for Students:

  1. Bibme
    This is the easiest way to build a works cited page.  Search for a book, article, or website, or type in the information yourself. Once you add it to your bibliography, you can continue adding more resources to build your works cited list. Then download your bibliography in either the MLA, APA, Chicago or Turabian formats. Unfortunately the site includes ads.
  2. Son of Citation Machine
    This site not only enables students to properly give credit for the information that they use, it helps them understand why it’s important to do so. It also provides great step-by-step instructions for users.
  3. Easy Bib
    Free MLA formatting. (Other styles cost.)  Just type in a title or website URL and click on the correct source from the list of results. This tool also allows users to type in their own info in each field, which takes helps students move toward citing sources independently.