Building Community: Seedfolks

Students explore the theme of community through the book Seedfolks, wrestling with how prejudice and racism impact the way people treat each other and the ways in which that can influence a community.



Unit 1

5th Grade

Unit Summary

By reading the core text, Seedfolks, students will explore what it means to be part of a community and how the actions of one person can positively impact an entire community. Students will grapple with how being part of a community can help a person change and evolve as they discover new things about themselves. Students will also wrestle with how prejudice and racism impact the way people treat each other and how both can influence an entire community. It is our hope that this unit helps establish a strong classroom community and that the characters in Seedfolks can serve as a model for how people from all walks of life can come together to be part of a strong, productive community. 

Seedfolks was chosen as the core text not only because of its portrayal of the power of community, but also because of the unique structure of the text. Each chapter is told from a different character’s point of view and shows how, as the garden grows, the character’s hearts and compassion grow. The structure of the text allows for students to begin exploring two key fifth grade standards: Comparing and contrasting two or more characters and describing how a narrator’s or speaker’s point of view influences how events are described. 

Throughout the unit, students learn to prepare for class discussions, determining which evidence best supports a particular idea and how to elaborate on that evidence. By writing daily in response to the Target Task question, students build their writing fluency, seeing the power of writing as a tool for understanding what they are reading. This unit also serves as the foundation for learning how to brainstorm and write strong literary analysis/opinion paragraphs, focusing on drafting topic sentences and determining supporting details. At the end of the unit, students write their first narrative, using the mentor text as a guide to writing their own chapter in Seedfolks

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Texts and Materials

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Core Materials

  • Book: Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman (Harper Trophy, 2004)   —  710L


These assessments accompany this unit to help gauge student understanding of key unit content and skills.

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

  • How can one person impact a community?
  • In what ways can prejudice impact the way people treat one another? 
  • What steps can be taken to overcome prejudice? 

Reading Focus Areas

  • Every character has a distinct purpose. Stories can have multiple characters with distinct purposes.

  • Comparing characters helps readers develop a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the text.

  • How characters respond to challenges is important to understand plot and theme.

Writing Focus Areas

Opinion Writing

  • Use single-paragraph outlines to brainstorm cohesive paragraphs.

  • Write strong topic sentences that clearly state an opinion or answer the question.

  • Identify details and reasons that support the opinion.

  • Use coordinating conjunctions to explain supporting details.

  • Write concluding sentences.

Narrative Writing

  • Brainstorm and draft a story with a logical sequence of events that unfolds naturally.

  • Orient the reader by introducing characters and setting.

  • Use transitional words and phrases to manage the sequence of events.

Writing Focus Areas

Informational Writing

  • Generate strong questions and use reliable sources when starting a research project.

  • Determine the most important details from research and group them into related categories.

  • Use single-paragraph outlines to brainstorm cohesive paragraphs.

  • Use coordinating conjunctions to elaborate on details.

Speaking and Listening Focus Areas

  • Prepare for discussion.

  • Elaborate to support ideas. Provide evidence or examples to justify and defend a point clearly.

  • Use specific vocabulary. Use vocabulary that is specific to the subject and task to clarify and share their thoughts.



abandoned coincidence community entranced exceptions foes gestures haphazard influence paradise protective thrive transform vacant vow wilt

To see all the vocabulary for Unit 1, view our 5th Grade Vocabulary Glossary.

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.

Content Knowledge and Connections

Notes for Teachers

The chapter Maricela is skipped due to the sensitive content included in the chapter. The unit focuses on how one person can impact a community and the ways in which prejudice can impact the way people treat one another. The events and content included in this chapter are not necessary for understanding the unit essential questions and are distracting to the overall learning goals of the unit. The main character of the chapter, Maricela, grapples with how she wishes she would miscarry, and while Leona helps her begin to see why she would want to keep her baby, the complexity of grappling with wanting vs. not wanting a pregnancy is complex for a 5th grader and not needed to understand the plot. Therefore, the Fishtank plans skip this chapter. 

We recommend naming to students that you are skipping this chapter, but also naming that readers often do this. We suggest telling students that there are a variety of reasons why readers may skip sections of a text. One reason is there may be content in the text that is inappropriate (in this case it is Maricela's internal struggles surrounding her pregnancy, but with other texts, this could be things that are triggering or scary). Another reason is that there may be sections of the text that provide context that is unnecessary for understanding the plot and can be skipped in order to finish the book faster (readers will encounter this in Return to Sender when the teacher summarizes sections of the text to help with pacing). Another reason is that depending on when a text was written there may be sections of the text that are outdated or offensive (sometimes if it fits the goals of the unit, students may analyze these sections of text, but if not, they will skip them). If you have other personal examples or reasons for why you may skip sections of a text, we recommend sharing them with students. That way students see this as something that is common as a reader.

If you decide to include the chapter on Maricela, we encourage you to provide additional support to students to ensure that they are able to process the content of the chapter. 

Lesson Map

Common Core Standards

Core Standards


Supporting Standards


Unit 2

Exploring Human Rights: The Breadwinner

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