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The Beauties of Winter

Students explore the beauties of winter through a variety of texts about winter, learning about winter weather and weather forecasts and how different animals and plants survive winter. 

Unit Summary

As part of the upgrade to Fishtank Plus, this unit was revised in December 2020. Some texts, materials, and questions may have changed as part of the revision. If you are looking for the 2019 version of this unit, visit our archives.

In this unit, students explore the beauties of winter. In the first part of the unit, students learn about how snow forms and the different types of snow that fall in the winter. In the second part of the unit, students explore how animals survive in the winter and the ways in which animals meet their basic needs, even when the ground is covered with ice and snow. In the last part of the unit, students read a variety of Jan Brett texts and use what they have learned about snow and animals to make inferences about what is happening with the different winter animals in the text. By the end of the unit, students should have a strong grasp of what makes winter unique and the different ways animals survive in the winter. Due to the timing of this unit, it is our hope that students will have plenty of opportunities to interact with the vocabulary and content in the natural world around them.

In reading, this unit is predominantly a collection of informational texts and builds on skills and strategies from earlier units. At this point, it is assumed that students are inquisitive consumers of text and are able to ask and answer questions about a text in order to deepen understanding of the content. In this unit, students will continue to be challenged to identify the main topic of a text, retell the key details that connect to the main topic, describe the connection between ideas in a text, and use the illustrations and words to describe and retell what is happening in a text with varying levels of teacher support.

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Texts and Materials

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Core Materials

See Text Selection Rationale

Assessment

This assessment accompanies this unit and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.

Unit Prep

Essential Questions

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  • What makes winter beautiful?
  • What do animals need to survive the winter?

Writing Focus Areas

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Sentence-Level Focus Areas

  • Create simple sentences orally and in writing.
  • Create statements, questions, and exclamations orally and in writing.
  • Ask questions using “who,” “what,” “where,” “when,” “why,” and “how.”
  • Use correct end punctuation.
  • Capitalize the first letter of a sentence.

In this unit, students continue to work on producing complete sentences orally and in writing. Students review how to ask questions and learn how to use exclamations.

Vocabulary

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Text-based

beautiful blizzard cozy curious droplet embarrassed evaporate hibernate meteorologist migrate over ridiculous search sleet snowstorm snow flurry store tame track under wild

Related Teacher Tools:

Content Knowledge and Connections

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  • Describe local weather patterns during the winter.
  • Explain daily weather changes that are unique to winter:
    • Snow, snowflakes, blizzard, flurry
    • Ice, icy, freezing
    • Sleet, hail
  • Describe the basic characteristics of animals, including:
    • Animals need food, water, and space to live and grow.
    • Animals get food from eating plants or other living things.
    • Animals survive winter in a variety of ways.
      • Some migrate and fly to warmer climates.
      • Some hibernate and sleep through the winter.
      • Some gather and store food for the winter.
      • Some animals search for food all winter long.
    • Pets have special needs and must be cared for by their owners.

Lesson Map

1

    RI.K.1

    SL.K.1

    SL.K.6

    L.K.1.d

    L.K.2.b

Brainstorm two or three questions about winter.

2

  • It’s Snowing! pp. 1 – 12

    RI.K.3

    RI.K.7

    SL.K.1

    SL.K.6

    L.K.6

Explain how snowflakes are formed.

3

  • Story of Snow

    RI.K.3

    RI.K.7

    SL.K.1

    SL.K.6

    L.K.6

Describe what snow crystals look like.

4

  • It’s Snowing! pp. 16 – 32

    RI.K.3

    RI.K.4

    RI.K.7

    SL.K.1

    SL.K.6

    L.K.6

Describe one way that snow falls.

5

  • The Snowy Day

    RL.K.2

    RL.K.3

    SL.K.1

    SL.K.6

Explain what adventures Peter had in the snow and how they made him feel.

6

Discussion & Writing

    W.K.2

    W.K.5

    W.K.8

    SL.K.1

    SL.K.6

    L.K.1.f

Describe what makes winter beautiful.

7

  • Animals in Winter

    RI.K.3

    RI.K.4

    RI.K.7

    SL.K.1

    SL.K.6

    L.K.6

Explain how different animals survive the winter using the words “migrate,” “hibernate,” “gather,” and “store,” and “search.”

8

  • The Big Snow pp. 1 – 26

    RI.K.3

    RI.K.4

    RI.K.7

    SL.K.1

    SL.K.6

    L.K.6

Describe how different animals prepare for winter using the words “migrate,” “hibernate,” “gather” and “store,” and “search.”

9

  • The Big Snow p. 26 — to end

    RI.K.3

    RI.K.7

    SL.K.1

    SL.K.6

    L.K.6

Explain how the animals survived the big snow.

10

  • Over and Under...

    RI.K.3

    RI.K.7

    SL.K.1

    SL.K.6

    L.K.6

Describe how being over or under the snow helps animals survive the winter.

11

  • Big Tracks...

    RI.K.3

    RI.K.7

    SL.K.1

    SL.K.6

    L.K.6

Explain why animal tracks are easier to see in the winter and what stories animal tracks tell.

12

  • Wild Tracks! pp. 11 – 13

    RI.K.3

    RI.K.7

    SL.K.1

    SL.K.6

    L.K.6

Describe different types of animal tracks and what you can learn from them.

13

  • Tracks in the Snow

    RL.K.2

    RL.K.3

    SL.K.1

    SL.K.6

Retell what happens when the little girl follows the tracks in the snow.

14

Discussion & Writing

    W.K.2

    W.K.5

    W.K.8

    SL.K.1

    SL.K.6

    L.K.1.f

Explain what animals do during the winter.

15

  • The Mitten

    RL.K.2

    RL.K.3

    SL.K.1

    SL.K.6

Explain if the story could happen in real life.

16

  • The Hat

    RL.K.2

    RL.K.3

    SL.K.1

    SL.K.6

Explain how Hedgehog’s feelings about the hat changed from the beginning of the story to the end.

17

  • Annie and...

    RL.K.2

    RL.K.3

    SL.K.1

    SL.K.6

Retell what happens in Annie and the Wild Animals.

18

Assessment

19

3 days

Writing

    W.K.3

    W.K.5

    W.K.6

    L.K.1.b

    L.K.1.f

    L.K.5.d

Write a story about what happens when you follow some animal tracks.

Common Core Standards

Language Standards
  • L.K.1.b — Use frequently occurring nouns and verbs.

  • L.K.1.d — Understand and use question words (interrogatives) (e.g., who, what, where, when, why, how).

  • L.K.1.f — Produce and expand complete sentences in shared language activities.

  • L.K.2.b — Recognize and name end punctuation.

  • L.K.5 — With guidance and support from adults, explore word relationships and nuances in word meanings.

  • L.K.5.d — Distinguish shades of meaning among verbs describing the same general action (e.g., walk, march, strut, prance) by acting out the meanings.

  • L.K.6 — Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, reading and being read to, and responding to texts.

Reading Standards for Informational Text
  • RI.K.1 — With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about key details in a text.

  • RI.K.2 — With prompting and support, identify the main topic and retell key details of a text.

  • RI.K.3 — With prompting and support, describe the connection between two individuals, events, ideas, or pieces of information in a text.

  • RI.K.4 — With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about unknown words in a text.

  • RI.K.7 — With prompting and support, describe the relationship between illustrations and the text in which they appear (e.g., what person, place, thing, or idea in the text an illustration depicts).

Reading Standards for Literature
  • RL.K.2 — With prompting and support, retell familiar stories, including key details.

  • RL.K.3 — With prompting and support, identify characters, settings, and major events in a story.

Speaking and Listening Standards
  • SL.K.1 — Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about kindergarten topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.

  • SL.K.6 — Speak audibly and express thoughts, feelings, and ideas clearly.

Writing Standards
  • W.K.2 — Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose informative/explanatory texts in which they name what they are writing about and supply some information about the topic.

  • W.K.3 — Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to narrate a single event or several loosely linked events, tell about the events in the order in which they occurred, and provide a reaction to what happened.

  • W.K.5 — With guidance and support from adults, respond to questions and suggestions from peers and add details to strengthen writing as needed.

  • W.K.6 — With guidance and support from adults, explore a variety of digital tools to produce and publish writing, including in collaboration with peers.

  • W.K.8 — With guidance and support from adults, recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.

Spiral Standards

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L.K.1.a

L.K.2

L.K.2.a

RI.K.10

RI.K.5

RI.K.6

RL.K.1

RL.K.10

RL.K.7

SL.K.2

SL.K.3

SL.K.5