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.



Unit 4

1st Grade

Unit Summary

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.

Texts and Materials

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.

Core Materials

Supporting Materials


These assessments accompany this unit and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.

Unit Prep

Intellectual Prep

Unit Launch

Before you teach this unit, unpack the texts, themes, and core standards through our guided intellectual preparation process. Each Unit Launch includes a series of short videos, targeted readings, and opportunities for action planning to ensure you're prepared to support every student.

Essential Questions

  • What is a family?
  • What makes some families different from others?
  • How does having different kinds of families make the world and our classroom community a richer place?

Reading Focus Areas

  • 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.

Writing Focus Areas

Narrative Writing

  • Write a narrative with a beginning, middle and end.

  • Include specific details about what happened.

  • Provide a sense of closure.

Speaking and Listening Focus Areas

  • 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.



accepting admire adopt appreciate bilingual communicate content curiousity discouraged down eager ecstatic frustrated glare jealous joyful lonely multiracial nonverbal patient positive regular

To see all the vocabulary for Unit 4, view our 1st Grade Vocabulary Glossary.

Content Knowledge and Connections

This unit builds student understanding of the following Learning for Justice Social Justice Standards:

  • Identity 1: I know and like who I am and can talk about my family and myself and name some of my group identities.
  • Identity 4: I can feel good about myself without being mean or making other people feel bad.
  • Identity 5: I see that the way my family and I do things is both the same as and different from how other people do things, and I am interested in both.
  • Diversity 7: I can describe some ways that I am similar to and different from people who share my identities and those who have other identities.
  • Diversity 8: I want to know about other people and how our lives and experiences are the same and different.
  • Diversity 10: I find it interesting that groups of people believe different things and live their daily lives in different ways.

By the end of the unit, students will build the following understandings about families.

  • All families are different, but no matter what, families show love.
  • Families might not always be around, but that does not mean they do not love one another.
  • Parents and other family members support and help dreams come true.
  • Having siblings can create a wide range of emotions.
  • Extended family (grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.) are an important part of a family.
  • Families like to spend time together. Different families have different rituals and traditions that they do together.
  • Families communicate with each other in many different ways.

Supporting All Students

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 for Teachers

  • As you prepare for this unit, consider the composition of your classroom and the different kinds of families represented in it. Make sure to think about the following things before teaching the unit:
    • It is important that all students are able to learn about families that are similar to theirs as a way of validating and exploring their own identities. However, not all family experiences are highlighted over the course of the unit. Prior to teaching the unit, identify if any of your students have family types that are not represented and make a plan for how to bring their experiences into the unit.
    • It is not the job of students to teach other students about a particular type of family. For example, if you have one student in your class with same-gender parents, be mindful of not putting that student on the spot and requiring them to teach others. 
    • Talking about family and home life may be triggering to some students. In some cases you may know in advance if a student has a tricky home life, and you should take steps to ensure that you use trauma-informed practices to make the student feel safe. In other cases, you may not know. Therefore, it is important that you create an environment that is a safe place for students.

Lesson Map

Common Core Standards

Core Standards


Supporting Standards

icon/arrow/right/large copy

Unit 3

Amazing Animals


Unit 5

Inspiring Artists and Musicians

Request a Demo

See all of the features of Fishtank in action and begin the conversation about adoption.

Learn more about Fishtank Learning School Adoption.

Contact Information

School Information

What courses are you interested in?



Are you interested in onboarding professional learning for your teachers and instructional leaders?



Any other information you would like to provide about your school?

Effective Instruction Made Easy

Effective Instruction Made Easy

Access rigorous, relevant, and adaptable ELA lesson plans for free