Unit 4: Love Makes a Family
In this unit students learn that families come in all different shapes and sizes, and that no matter what a family looks like, all families love and care for one another, by reading fiction books on various types of families.
The goal of this unit is to help students understand that families come in all different shapes and sizes, and that no matter what a family looks like, all families love and care for one another. The world we live in is increasingly diverse, especially within family structures. As students are building their own identities, it is important for them to see mirrors of their own lives so that they can develop healthy identities, while also seeing windows into other lives so that they can embrace differences. Over the course of the unit, students will read stories that highlight a wide range of families and experiences, some of which may not be present in your school community. Ensuring that students see a wide range of families and experiences is crucial for helping students make sense of the world around them.
Students will continue their exploration of character by analyzing the characters’ feelings. In this unit, students focus on more nuanced feelings and explaining why a character feels the way they do. Many of the vocabulary words in this unit do not come directly from the texts, but instead offer more precise words students can use to articulate how a character is feeling. Students will also analyze character relationships and notice how relationships impact a character's feelings and actions, particularly in regard to family relationships. Noticing both character feelings and character relationships will help students determine the central message of the story.
Additionally, students will be pushed to “read” the illustrations, noticing how illustrations in a text provide clues about events, settings, and characters. When discussing the text, students transition from focusing on clarifying and sharing their thoughts during a discussion to engaging with the thinking of others. Students learn how to build on others’ talk in conversations by responding to the comments of others and asking questions to clear up confusion about the topics or texts under discussion.
Students will continue to work on building their writing fluency by writing daily in response to the Target Task question. Over the course of the unit, students will learn different strategies for ensuring that they are using complete sentences and that they are varying the types of sentences that they are writing to convey different ideas and emotions. Students have a few opportunities to use what they learned in previous units about opinion writing, but the main genre-based focus of this unit is on narrative writing. Building on work done in previous units, students continue to write focused narratives with strong beginnings, middles, and ends that include specific details about what happened at each part of the narrative.
Fishtank Plus for ELA
Unlock features to optimize your prep time, plan engaging lessons, and monitor student progress.
Some of the links below are Amazon affiliate links. This means that if you click and make a purchase, we receive a small portion of the proceeds, which supports our non-profit mission.
Book: Stella Brings the Family by Miriam B. Schiffer (Chronicle Books)
Book: Marisol McDonald Doesn't Match by Monica Brown (Children's Book Press, Bilingual edition, 2011)
Book: In Our Mothers' House by Patricia Polacco (Philomel Books)
Book: Pecan Pie Baby by Jacqueline Woodson (Puffin Books, 2013)
Book: Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o (Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers)
Book: The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family by Ibtihaj Muhammad and S.K. Ali (Little Brown Books for Young Readers)
Book: Big Red Lollipop by Rukhsana Khan (Viking Books for Young Readers, 2010)
Book: My Brother Charlie by Holly Robinson Peete and Ryan Elizabeth Peete (Scholastic Press, 1 edition, 2010)
Book: A Tale of Two Seders by Mindy Avra Portnoy (Kar-Ben Publishing)
Book: Visiting Day by Jacqueline Woodson (Puffin Books, Reprint edition, 2015)
Book: Last Stop on Market Street by Matt De La Peña (G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, 1 edition, 2015)
Book: Nana Akua Goes to School by Tricia Elam Walker (Schwartz & Wade)
Book: I Love Saturdays y domingos by Alma Flor Ada (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, Reprint edition, 2004)
Book: Grandfather Counts by Deborah J Short (National Geographic School Pub, Reprint edition, 2003)
Book: Mango, Abuela, and Me by Meg Medina (Candlewick, 1st Edition edition, 2015)
Book: Ojiichan’s Gift by Chieri Uegaki (Kids Can Press)
Book: Dear Juno by Soyung Pak (Puffin Books, Reprint edition, 2001)
Book: Grandmother's Visit by Betty Quan (Groundwood Books)
Book: Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard (Roaring Brook Press)
Book: Jingle Dancer by Cynthia Leitich Smith and Ying-Hwa Hu (Heartdrum)
Book: Freedom Soup by Tami Charles (Candlewick)
Book: First Laugh - Welcome Baby! by Rose Ann Tahe, Nancy Bo Flood (Charlesbridge)
Assessment Text: “Sitti's Secrets” by Naomi Shihab Nye and illustrated by Nancy Carpenter (Aladdin)
These assessments accompany this unit and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.
Download Content Assessment
Download Content Assessment Answer Key
Download Cold Read Assessment
Download Cold Read Assessment Answer Key
Suggestions for how to prepare to teach this unit
Prepare to teach this unit by immersing yourself in the texts, themes, and core standards. Unit Launches include a series of short videos, targeted readings, and opportunities for action planning.
The central thematic questions addressed in the unit or across units
To understand what happens in a story, readers notice character relationships and feelings.
Readers “read” the illustrations in a text to notice clues about events, setting, and characters.
Noticing character relationships and feelings can help the reader determine the central message of a story.
Write a narrative with a beginning, middle and end.
Include specific details about what happened.
Provide a sense of closure.
Use specific vocabulary. Use vocabulary that is specific to the subject and task to clarify and share thoughts.
Build on others' talk in conversations by responding to the comments of others.
Ask questions to clear up confusion about the topics or texts under discussion.
Literary terms, text-based vocabulary, idioms and word parts to be taught with the text
To see all the vocabulary for Unit 4, view our 1st Grade Vocabulary Glossary.
Fishtank ELA units related to the content in this unit.
This unit builds student understanding of the following Learning for Justice Social Justice Standards:
By the end of the unit, students will build the following understandings about families.
In order to ensure that all students are able to access the texts and tasks in this unit, it is incredibly important to intellectually prepare to teach the unit prior to launching the unit. Use the intellectual preparation protocol and the Unit Launch to determine which support students will need. To learn more, visit the Supporting all Students teacher tool.
Notes to help teachers prepare for this specific unit
Explain what we can learn from Stella about what it means to be a family.
Explain what Marisol learns about herself and what lesson we can learn from her.
Describe how the family shows that they love and care for one another.
Explain why the house is important to the family.
Explain why fry bread is important to Native American families.
Writing – 2 days
Write a description of your family.
Describe what lesson the author is trying to teach.
Explain what the family does to welcome baby and why it is important.
Discussion & Writing
Write about the advice you would give to a friend who is about to have a new baby sibling.
Explain how Sulwe changes and what causes the change.
Explain what message the author wants the reader to take away from the book.
Explain why Rubina stands up for her sister and what lesson she learns.
Analyze how the family shows that they appreciate Charlie.
Writing – 3 days
Write a story about two siblings fighting over a toy.
Analyze how the narrator’s parents show they love and care for her even though they are no longer married.
Analyze how the different family members in the story show that they love and care about each other.
Explain how things change in Grace’s family and how she responds.
Discuss unit Essential Questions.
Explain how the narrator’s abuelitos and grandparents are similar.
Explain what CJ learns from his Nana and how he learns it.
Explain why Freedom Soup was important to Belle and Ti Gran.
Determine what lesson we can learn from Zura and her Nana.
Explain why Jenna’s family came together to help her solve her problem.
Explain how the train helps bring Helen and Gong Gong together and what lesson we can learn from them.
Explain how Mia’s feelings change from the beginning to the end of the story.
Explain what differences made it hard for Juno and his grandmother to communicate and how they were able to overcome those differences.
Analyze how Mayumi responds to the changes in her family and explain what we can learn from her.
Writing – 4 days
Write a story about a special family memory.
Create a free account to access thousands of lesson plans.
Already have an account? Sign In
The content standards covered in this unit
— Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
— Use common, proper, and possessive nouns.
— Use singular and plural nouns with matching verbs in basic sentences (e.g., He hops; We hop).
— Use determiners (e.g., articles, demonstratives).
— Produce and expand complete simple and compound declarative, interrogative, imperative, and exclamatory sentences in response to prompts.
— Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
— Use end punctuation for sentences.
— Use commas in dates and to separate single words in a series.
— Distinguish shades of meaning among verbs differing in manner (e.g., look, peek, glance, stare, glare, scowl) and adjectives differing in intensity (e.g., large, gigantic) by defining or choosing them or by acting out the meanings.
— Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, reading and being read to, and responding to texts, including using frequently occurring conjunctions to signal simple relationships (e.g., because).
— Retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson.
— Describe characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key details.
— Identify words and phrases in stories or poems that suggest feelings or appeal to the senses.
— Use illustrations and details in a story to describe its characters, setting, or events.
— Compare and contrast the adventures and experiences of characters in stories.
— Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 1 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups
— Ask and answer questions about key details in a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.
— Ask and answer questions about what a speaker says in order to gather additional information or clarify something that is not understood.
— Produce complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation.
— Write opinion pieces in which they introduce the topic or name the book they are writing about, state an opinion, supply a reason for the opinion, and provide some sense of closure.
— Write narratives in which they recount two or more appropriately sequenced events, include some details regarding what happened, use temporal words to signal event order, and provide some sense of closure.
— With guidance and support from adults, focus on a topic, respond to questions and suggestions from peers, and add details to strengthen writing as needed.
— With guidance and support from adults, recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.
Standards that are practiced daily but are not priority standards of the unit
— Use personal, possessive, and indefinite pronouns (e.g., I, me, my; they, them, their; anyone, everything).
— Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade 1 reading and content, choosing flexibly from an array of strategies.
— Ask and answer questions about key details in a text.
— With prompting and support, read prose and poetry of appropriate complexity for grade 1.
— Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.
Inspiring Artists and Musicians
See all of the features of Fishtank in action and begin the conversation about adoption.
Learn more about Fishtank Learning School Adoption.
Access rigorous, relevant, and adaptable ELA lesson plans for free