americansymbols.jpgUnit 4 America: Symbols and Celebrations

In this fourth six-week unit of Kindergarten, students study America’s symbols and celebrations through literary and informational text; they begin to write informative /explanatory pieces
Building on asking questions about neighborhoods, students begin this unit by asking questions about a local symbol. They progress to asking questions for more detailed information in non-fiction texts. Students learn to write informative pieces with richer content. Through shared writing, students also learn to expand complete sentences by using more details about American symbols. To be sure the content resonates with the children, celebrations from the student’s own ethnicity or religion will be encouraged as part of the information gathering

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Theme Essential Question
Why are symbols important?

End of Unit Learning/Overview

Theme Focus Standards
LAFS.K.RI.1.1 With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about key details in a text.
LAFS.K.SL.2.4 Describe familiar people, places, things, and events and, with prompting and support, provide additional detail.
LAFS.K.W.3.7Participate in shared research and writing projects (e.g., explore a number of books by a favorite author and express opinions about them).
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(f) Produce and expand complete sentences in shared language activities.
LAFS.K.L.1.2 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
LAFS.K.L.1.2(d) Spell simple words phonetically, drawing on knowledge of sound-letter relationships.

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Vocabulary Introduced during Theme

Informational Text
KWL Chart

Suggested Objectives:
    • Describe the connection between two events or ideas in a text.
    • Recognize cause and effect relationships (e.g., the contributions of Martin Luther King Jr. and the holiday celebrating his life).
    • Review characters, setting, and key events in fictional stories when retelling them.
    • Answer questions about unknown words, details, and events in both fiction and informational texts.
    • Gather information from text sources and experiences to answer questions about a given topic (e.g., about holidays).
    • Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose an informative text on a given topic (e.g., about holidays).
    • Ask questions to get information, to seek help, or to clarify something that is not understood.
    • Produce and expand complete sentences in shared writing about a given topic (e.g., symbols in America).
    • Identify new meanings for familiar words and apply them accurately (e.g., march—verb, March—month, march—musical piece).
    • Use newly learned words in conversation (e.g., new words related to celebrations and symbols).

Suggested activities:
Informative Writing
Use the following prompt to direct students to communicate research findings: “Write an informative/explanatory piece about a symbol or holiday from our class research (KWL chart). Write about the symbol or holiday and what it means. Be sure to use the information on your chart as you write. Illustrate your ideas before you write or after you are finished.” (W.K.2, W.K.8, SL.K.5, L.K.1a, L.K.2d)
Speaking and Listening
Send a note to parents asking them to find a photograph of the child taken during a family celebration. Ask parents to name the celebration and to tell what makes it special as their family celebrates it. Use this information to create a display of your class’s celebrations and to prepare for the shared research project on community celebrations. Scanning the holiday photographs digitally or receiving them in a digital format would enable a slide show presentation (such as PowerPoint) to accompany the sharing time. (SL.K.4, W.K.8)
Language Usage, Vocabulary
Create a word bank to collect new words from this unit. These words can be used in discussion and in journal writing to reinforce their proper use. Use the word bank to practice making nouns plural (e.g., statue, statues). (L.K.1b, L.K.1c, L.K.6)
Language Usage, Vocabulary
Tell the students that there are words that are spelled the same and sound the same, but have very different meanings. Listen to John Philip Sousa’s music and “march” around the room. Explain that in this case, “march” is an action word. The name of this type of song is a “march,” because you want to march to it. And you could even do this “march” in the month of “March.” The lesson: Some words are used differently to mean different things. This activity can be repeated with the word “flag,” using the word as a verb and as a noun. (L.K.1b, L.K.4a, L.K.5d)
Vocabulary, Speaking and Listening
To introduce the concept of a symbol, choose a symbol well known to the students in your class (e.g., professional sports team logo or school mascot). Discuss why a symbol is important for unifying fans behind a team or school. Go on to discuss the meaning behind the symbol as a source of inspiration. Learning (reciting) the lyrics to the songs featured in this unit will reinforce the inspiration drawn from common songs as symbols. (RI.K.4, SL.K.2, SL.K.3, SL.K.4, L.K.4, L.K.6)
Language Usage, Informative Writing
Use a theme-related short sentence to begin your unit, such as “The flag waves.” Challenge the class to think of details to add to the sentence to make it more interesting (e.g., “The red, white, and blue flag waves”; “The red, white, and blue American flag waves in the strong winds of March”). (W.K.5, L.K.1f, L.K.1c, L.K.1b, L.K.5b)
Reading Informational Text, Research
Create a KWL chart for American symbols and holidays to set the stage for asking questions, answering questions, and gathering information under main topics (see Additional Resources for a KWL chart sample). Teachers may need to model the questioning until the students begin to generate research questions on their own. As the class reads an informational book (e.g., The Liberty Bell, by Lloyd G. Douglas), gather information about the main topic, noting elements of informational text, such as photographs or text boxes. Remind the students of the importance of also studying illustrations for information. Add the information to the KWL chart. Look for connections between ideas as you add information to the charts. Use sticky notes or whiteboards for students to fully participate in adding information to the charts. (RI.K.1, RI.K.2, RI.K.3, RI.K.7, RI.K.8)
Research, Informative Writing
Choose a holiday celebrated in your community. Gather information about the holiday by reading books and asking people in your community to tell you why it is celebrated, when it is celebrated, who celebrates it, and how it is celebrated. Create a large cube for the holiday and assign small groups of students to prepare an illustration for each face of the cube. Use the guiding research questions above to assign the faces of the cube. Repeat this activity with several holidays celebrated by the members of your classroom. Extend this work with the following writing activity to communicate findings: “After researching a community holiday and creating an information cube, write a class book about the holiday and illustrate each page.” (SL.K.4, L.K.5c, W.K.2, W.K.7, W.K.8)
Reading Literature, Reading Comprehension, Speaking and Listening
Introduce a book showing a diverse viewpoint of an American holiday such as Apple Pie and the Fourth of July (Janet Wong). As you read the book, ask the students to look for ways that the main character sees one of the traditional American holidays. Encourage the students to look closely at the illustrations and to listen closely to the story. When you are finished reading, ask students to discuss how people see holidays and celebrations differently, depending on their family and ethnic experience. Before turning to whole-group discussion, have students draw a picture or “turn and talk” in preparation for sharing ideas. Pay particular attention to whether the students confirm understanding of what they have read. Encourage listeners to ask relevant questions and speakers to answer them carefully. (RL.K.3, RL.K.7, RL.K.10, SL.K.1, SL.K.2, SL.K.3)

Online Resources

Read Works Passages/Lessons:

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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Interdisciplinary Connections:

  • This unit teaches:
    • Music: Patriotic songs (e.g., “America the Beautiful,” “America (My Country, ‘Tis of Thee,”) “Yankee Doodle,” “You’re a Grand Old Flag”); band music (e.g., marches of John Philip Sousa)
    • Geography: United States
    • History: Celebrations of diversity (e.g., Chinese New Year, Cinco de Mayo, Kwanzaa, Chanukah, and Christmas)

    This unit could be extended to teach:
    • Art: Sculpture
    • History: Native Americans (e.g., a tribe or nation located near your students compared/contrasted to a tribe or nation farther away); voyage of Christopher Columbus; presidents, past and present