Component Descriptions

  • BIG IDEA Books
  • BIG IDEA Interactive
  • BIG IDEA Teacher's Guide


The BIG IDEA books are designed to make curriculum content in Science and Social Studies accessible to students in elementary schools across Canada. The books are highly visual and written at a level that is appropriate for English language learners (ELLs) and striving readers, which makes them valuable resources for supporting both language and content acquisition.

Each BIG IDEA book deals with an important topic from the Science or Social Studies curriculum. The key ideas of each topic are captured as “Big Ideas.” An inquiry-based approach encourages critical thinking, and built-in supports, such as text scaffolding and carefully chosen images, encourage readers to engage with the text. This series offers students opportunities to learn essential curriculum concepts, develop content-specific vocabulary and academic words in context, as well as acquire competencies in literacy and critical thinking skills that will equip them for success in school and the world beyond their classrooms.

The BIG IDEA series features material for the following topics:

Social Studies Science
First Peoples Simple Machines
Political and Physical Regions of Canada Light and Sound
Early Societies: Mesopotamia, Nile Valley, Indus Valley Rocks and Minerals
Early Societies: Mali, China and England Habitats and Communities
First Contact Body Systems
All Connected Chemistry
Active Citizenship Our Healthy World
New France Forces and Structure
Canada: Movement of the People Diversity of Life
Canada and the World Sky and Beyond
Canada's Heroes of Human Rights Flight
Events that Changed Canada Electricity

BIG IDEA Interactive

BIG IDEA Interactive is a web-based resource to support learning and teaching. Being a web-based application means it is accessible through your internet browser making it available from any computer or tablet in the school or at home. Included are eText versions of each BIG IDEA book that can be projected for teacher-led group instruction or used independently or collaboratively by students.

Each eText includes audio recordings of the text featuring a real voice (not a computer generated voice). Words highlight as they are read to help students build a link between the spoken and written word.

Embedded throughout the eText are interactive activities for teachers to do with students as well as activities that students can manage on their own. These activities are focused on vocabulary development and include:

  • Word associations
  • Fill in the blank (cloze)
  • Word jumbles
  • Sequencing exercises
  • Describing the picture activities
  • Image galleries
  • True or false questions
  • Matching exercises
  • Graphic Organizers such as Frayer charts, mind maps, KWL charts, Venn diagram, cause and effect tables, compare and contrast tables, and flow charts
  • Tile sorts

For activities designed to be led by the teacher, teaching notes are provided.

Key terms and glossary words are downloadable and linked to Google translate. This allows students to see and hear these words in their first language.

Big Idea Teacher's Guide

A comprehensive Teacher’s Guide, complete with teaching suggestions for each title in, supports both ELL and classroom teachers. The guide provides frontloading and scaffolding strategies that you can use with students before, during, and after reading. It also offers answers to the questions in the text, support for activities, and useful teaching suggestions for effective language and content acquisition.