Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8

In this lesson plan, adaptable for grades 3-12, students watch the BrainPOP movie Citing Sources and explore the other features in this topic to learn all about creating a bibliography when you write research papers. Students then apply their understanding by creating a Citing Sources Dos & Don’ts list.

Students will:

  1. Discuss what it means to “cite a source” and why it’s important to credit others.
  2. Watch a BrainPOP movie and explore resources about citing sources.
  3. Apply understanding by identifying what to do and not to do when developing a bibliography.


  • Preview the movie Citing Sources to plan for adaptations.
  • Determine which of the topic’s features you plan on having students explore (e.g. Challenge, Creative Coding, Newsela, Primary Source, etc.) and use the Assignment Builder to Assign them to students.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Project the BrainPOP topic Citing Sources on the whiteboard. Read aloud, or have a volunteer read the summary that appears below the movie player.   
  2. Have students discuss what it means to cite a source and why it’s important to do. Introduce the word “bibliography” if they don’t already know it, or review what one is if they do. Tell the class that today they will use BrainPOP to learn all about bibliographies, including why it’s important to cite sources. Tell them they will create a Dos and Don’ts poster about citing sources.
  3. Show the movie Citing Sources to the whole class on the whiteboard. Turn on the closed caption option to aid in comprehension. Pause for key concepts and discuss their meaning. You may also use the Citing Sources Discussion Prompts while watching the movie.
  4. Next, if you have access to multiple computers or devices, have pairs watch the movie again within the Make-a-Map feature (NOTE: You can assign this in advance using the Assignment Builder). Instruct them to use the Make-a-Map tools to construct a t-chart labeled Do’s and Don’ts.The, as they watch the movie this time, have them pause to take notes about what to do and not to do when citing sources.  For example, they “plagiarism” is in the Don’ts column.
  5. As students are working, distribute poster boards and markers. After completing their t-chart, have students use their Make-a-Map notes to create an offline Citing Sources Dos & Don’ts poster.
  6. Display finished posters around the room and invite pairs to review their peers’ posters.
  7. Tell students that during the school year, as they work on bibliographies for their own research papers, they should use the posters for reference.
  8. You might want to share the images of the posters with families so that students can review these rules when working on research papers at home.