The Seven Continents

Students read informational texts about the seven continents, and what makes each of them unique, while working to understand text features and develop skills in writing about informational texts.



Alternate Unit 3

1st Grade

Unit Summary

A note on our updated unit: Fishtank updated this unit in 2023 to include several new texts. Instead of focusing on the people that live on each continent, which can lead to harmful stereotyping, we have focused this unit on the climate, landforms, and ecosystems of each continent.

In this unit, students learn about the seven continents and what makes each continent unique. A part of the 1st grade English Language Arts curriculum is focused on communities and understanding communities around the world. To understand the differences between communities around the world, students need to understand what the world is, identify the different continents, and explain some of the differences between continents. Students will use the facts learned in this unit to deeply connect with the characters and information they learn in later units.

Due to the structural demands of the unit texts, students also learn how to use different text features to locate and understand key information in a text. Throughout the unit, students learn how to use discussion and oral discourse to show their understanding of the texts and the content. Additionally, students will write daily in response to the text. Over the course of the unit, students will write short informational pieces to teach others about each continent focusing on stating a topic and supplying facts about that topic. At the end of the unit, students will share their opinion about which continent they would most like to visit and why.

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 makes each continent similar? Unique?

Reading Focus Areas

  • Readers ask and answer questions about key details in a text to learn more about a specific topic.

  • The main topic is what a text is mostly about. Key details tell more about the main topic.

  • Readers use text features to locate and understand information in a text.

Writing Focus Areas

Informational Writing

  • Name a topic.

  • Supply facts about the topic.

Opinion Writing

  • State an opinion. 

  • Include two to three reasons to support the opinion.

Speaking and Listening Focus Areas

  • Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions.

  • Ask and answer questions about key details in a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.

  • Produce complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation.



climate continent coral reef desert forest grassland island landform lake mountain ocean rainforest remote river sea

To see all the vocabulary for Unit 3, view our 1st Grade Vocabulary Glossary.

Content Knowledge and Connections

  • Identify major oceans: Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, and Arctic
  • Identify and describe two to three familiar features of the seven continents: Asia, Europe, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, and Australia
  • Define these geographical terms and features: island, mountain, rivers, lakes, country, border, government, island, climate, landform, volcanoes, coast, rivers, lakes, forest, grasslands, prairies, deserts, ocean, continent

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

The Bobbie Kalman texts in this unit were selected because of the text features and broad overview of the continents. Reading books with the same structure and author allows students to build a deep understanding of the author's craft and why they use certain structures. We believe the content of this unit is important, but we also acknowledge that there are some problematic representations of the people living on each continent in some of the texts. Instead of removing the texts, we only focus on certain sections of the text that teach students about the climate, landforms, and ecosystems in each continent.

Lesson Map

Common Core Standards

Core Standards


Supporting Standards

icon/arrow/right/large copy

Unit 2

Folktales Around the World


Unit 4

Love Makes a Family

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