community helpers.jpgUnit 3: Exploring with Friends in the Neighborhood

In this third six-week unit of Kindergarten, students learn about exploration through fictional characters and informational books about neighborhoods.
Building on basic retelling of a familiar story, this unit focuses on asking questions about unknown words, characters, settings, and events. Students compare and contrast the first adventure of Little Bear with the stories in the following chapters of Little Bear. As they read stories of other characters, as in Frog and Toad Together,students extend their skills of comparing and contrasting. Winnie the Pooh provides the context for students to learn to ask questions when they lose their way in following the story or in understanding Pooh’s special language, such as the made-up word “expotition.” The informational books offer an opportunity for students to ask “who, what, where, when, and why” questions about the role of community helpers, such as firefighters and policemen.

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Theme Essential Question
How is reading like exploring?

End of Unit Learning - Unit Overview

Theme Focus Standards
LAFS.K.RL.1.3 With prompting and support, identify characters, settings, and major events in a story
LAFS.K.RL.2.4 Ask and answer questions about unknown words in a text.
LAFS.K.RL.3.9 With prompting and support, compare and contrast the adventures and experiences of characters in familiar stories.
LAFS.K.RI.1.2 With prompting and support, identify the main topic and retell key details of a text.
LAFS.K.W.1.2 Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose informative/explanatory texts in which they name what they are writing about and supply some information about the topic.
LAFS.K.L.1.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
LAFS.K.L.1.1(d) Understand and use question words (interrogatives) (e.g., who, what, where, when, why, how).

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Suggested Objectives:

    • Use the words who, what, where, when, and why to explore informational texts.
    • Ask questions about unknown words in both fictional and informational texts.
    • Locate basic information in a nonfiction text.
    • Identify characters, settings, and key events in a story.
    • Compare and contrast the adventures of one character in a collection of stories.
    • Compare and contrast the adventures of different characters in different books through the use of a graphic organizer.
    • Understand the difference between real (nonfiction) and imagined (fiction) explorations.
    • Use a combination of drawing, dictating, or writing to compose an informative text.
    • Name and identify periods, question marks, and exclamation points.
    • Understand and correctly use the prepositions to/from, on/off, and in/out.

Sample activities:

Reading Poetry, Art, Performance
Read a poem such as “The Swing.” Assign the students the task of drawing an illustration for each stanza of the poem. Do the same activity with other poems, such as “Us Two.” Using key words such as who, what, where, why, when, and how, compare and contrast the two poems. Encourage the children to work on the recitation of their favorite poem. (RL.K.9, L.K.1d)
Music, Speaking and Listening
As a musical illustration of comparing and contrasting, use the work of Henry Mancini (“Baby Elephant Walk”) and Saint-Saens (Carnival of the Animals, “The Elephant”) to compare and contrast two musical compositions that are inspired by elephants. Introduce the activity by telling the students that they are going to hear two different musical pieces that are based on elephants. As they listen to “Baby Elephant Walk” and “The Elephant,” ask them to decide which piece reminds them more of an elephant. Extend this activity by having the students move to the music as they listen, deciding whether the music makes them want to dance or lumber like elephants. (L.K.5d, RL.K.9)
Informative Writing
Tell students, “Write about a community helper in your neighborhood. Be sure to name the community helper and to tell what she/he does to help the community.” (For example, “A trash collector picks up stinky garbage all over our city and takes it to the dump.”) (W.K.2, L.K.1a, L.K.2a, L.K.2b, L.K.2c, L.K.5c)
Reading Literature, Reading Comprehension
After reading the first story in the Little Bear collection of stories, use a chart to organize ideas about each of the three stories. Remind students of the who, what, and where questions to be answered. Create headings for Character, Setting, and Events. Assign students one of the three categories to think about each time you read, encouraging them to write or draw ideas on sticky notes. Fill in the chart each time you read a new Little Bear story. Extension: Create a similar chart to compare other fictional explorations and adventures by characters such as Frog and Toad, Curious George, and more. (RL.K.3, RL.K.9)
Art, Narrative Writing, Speaking and Listening
Assign students a section from Netherlandish Proverbs to work with. Ask them to study it closely. Partner the students to compose one sentence describing what the people seem to be doing or who they might be. Have students share their sentences with the whole group. (W.K.1, W.K.3)
Reading Literature, Reading Comprehension
Read Winnie-the-Pooh aloud to check for student understanding. To be sure that students are following the story and understanding the words, encourage students to monitor their own comprehension. Tell the children that if they lose their way or a word is confusing them, they should put a hand on their own shoulder. If you see a student do so, stop reading at a good stopping place, reread the confusing section, and allow other students to participate in clearing up the confusion. (RL.K.4)
Speaking and Listening, Language Usage
Tell the students that they are going to practice giving and following directions. Create directions that focus on using prepositions such as to/from, on/off, and in/out. Pull a child’s name out of a basket and then give them a command. For example, “Tian, walk from your desk to the teacher’s desk.” “Jaxton, put your hand in the basket and then take it out.” Extend this activity by placing the prepositions on cards and having the students make up directions using the words. You could also play the game of Simon Says as you give the commands. As students develop confidence, increase the commands by two or three additional steps. (L.K.1e)
Reading Informational Text, Speaking and Listening
Using two books that describe different jobs but are in the same series of informational books (such as the Community Helpers at Work series), create a graphic organizer to compare and contrast the days of various community helpers. Discuss the ways the jobs are similar and different. Require each student to dictate, draw, write, or act out something one of the community helpers does (e.g., a postal worker weighs packages). Ask if the other community helper does something similar (e.g., a nurse weighs patients). (RI.K.2, RI.K.9)
Art, Speaking and Listening
View Bearden’s collage. Note that the work is four feet high and eighteen feet long. Compare that to the size of a wall in the classroom. Try to get the students to look at the collage for as long as possible. The following questions will help guide a fifteen-minute discussion: What do you notice first in this collage and why? Where do you think this might be? What do you see that makes it look like this place? How did Bearden make the buildings look different (e.g., color and texture)? Do you notice any people? (SL.K.1, SL.K.2, SL.K.4, SL.K.5, SL.K.6)
Reading Informational Text, Speaking and Listening
While reading informational books about community helpers, create a chart with the following headings: Who, What, Where, When, and Why. Encourage children to listen for answers to those questions as you read the book aloud. Remind the students to pay close attention to the illustrations for details. To ensure each child’s participation, give them sticky notes or whiteboards on which to write or draw their ideas. Begin by talking about the author, illustrator, and front, back, and title page of the book. Fill in the chart each time you read a new book about community helpers. Use this chart as inspiration to change the lyrics for “Do You Know the Muffin Man?” for community helpers in your neighborhood (e.g., “Do you know the fireman . . . That works on 12th and Main!”). (RI.K.1, RI.K.2, RI.K.5, RI.K.7, L.K.1d, SL.K.1, SL.K.3, SL.K.4)
Art, Speaking and Listening
Display the Bearden and Bruegel pieces side by side. Note that these works were created more than four hundred years apart. Ask the students to find similarities and differences between the two works. Which place seems like a real place, and which one seems more like a dream or fantasy? Document the answers on a chart for future discussion. (SL.K.1, SL.K.2, SL.K.4, SL.K.5, SL.K.6)

Online Resources

Vocabulary Introduced during Theme

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Key Events
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Interdisciplinary Connections
  • This unit teaches:
    • Music: Carnival of the Animals, Fifth Movement “The Elephant” (Camille Saint-Saëns); elements of music (e.g., moving responsively to music)
    • Social Studies: Community helpers (e.g., wide range of careers)
    • Geography: Community (i.e., town, city, or community)

    This unit could be extended to teach:
    • Music: Carnival of the Animals, Movements I–XIV (Camille Saint-Saëns) (e.g., recognizing the instruments within the performance); elements of music (e.g., fast/slow, high/low, and loud/quiet)
    • Science: The human body (e.g., focus on the medical field through health of your body: exercise, cleanliness, healthy foods, rest, and dental care)
    • Geography: Locate continent, country, and state where the community is located

Sight Words:
The expectation for kindergarten is for students to learn the first 100 words by the end of the year.

Standard assessments to be completed by end of unit:

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