Continents: Understanding the World

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.

Unit Summary

In this unit, students learn about the seven continents and what makes each continent unique. A large part of the 1st grade English Language Arts curriculum is focused on communities and understanding communities around the world. In order 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.

This unit will serve as the foundational unit for creating a strong Read Aloud, discussion, and writing culture in the informational block. Students will learn to identify facts from informational texts and use those facts to describe places and ideas. Students will also learn how to use text features to locate and understand information in a text. By the end of the unit, students should be able to name different text features and explain how the text features help a reader better understand an informational text.

In writing, students will write daily in response to the text. The focus for this unit is on building student stamina and routines in regard to writing about reading. After learning about each continent, students will participate in a variety of independent and shared writing activities in order to develop skills in informational writing while simultaneously solidifying understanding of new material.

Texts and Materials

Core Materials

  • Book: Explore North America by Bobbie Kalman (Crabtree Publishing Company, 2007)   —  IG720L

  • Book: Explore South America by Bobbie Kalman (Crabtree Publishing Company, 2007)   —  IG700L

  • Book: Explore Africa by Bobbie Kalman (Crabtree Publishing Company, 2007)   —  IG650L

  • Book: Explore Antartica by Bobbie Kalman (Crabtree Publishing Company, 2007)   —  IG700L

  • Book: Explore Australia and Oceania by Bobbie Kalman (Crabtree Publishing Company, 2007)   —  IG640L

  • Book: Explore Europe by Bobbie Kalman (Crabtree Publishing Company, 2007)   —  IG690L

  • Book: Explore Asia by Bobbie Kalman (Crabtree Publishing Company, 2007)   —  IG610L

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Assessment

This assessment accompanies Unit 2 and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.

Unit Prep

Essential Questions

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  • What makes each continent similar? Unique?

Writing Focus Areas

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Sentence-Level Focus Areas

  • Writing and speaking in complete, simple sentences
  • Using specific details to describe something, particularly proper nouns

In this unit, students begin their exploration of complete sentences. Over the course of the unit, students will learn to distinguish between complete and incomplete sentences. After learning the difference, students will be challenged to use complete simple sentences orally and in writing. Students will also learn how to add details to simple sentences, particularly using proper nouns to tell about specific places on each continent.

Vocabulary

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Text-based

architecture climate continent culture desert forest grassland island landform lake mountain natural resource ocean river rural sea tundra urban

Related Teacher Tools:

Content Knowledge and Connections

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  • 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, city, village, resources, ocean, continent

Future Connections

  • Unit 4: Power of Reading

Lesson Map

1

  • Explore North America pp. 4 – 15

    RI.1.1

    RI.1.5

    RI.1.7

    SL.1.2

    L.1.6

Identify different things you might see in North America.

2

  • Explore North America pp. 16 – 25

    RI.1.1

    RI.1.5

    RI.1.7

    SL.1.2

    L.1.6

Identify different things you can see in North America.

3

  • Explore North America pp. 24 – 31

    RI.1.1

    RI.1.5

    RI.1.7

    SL.1.2

    L.1.6

Identify different things you can see in North America.

4

Writing

  • Explore North America

    RI.1.1

    RI.1.7

    W.1.2

    W.1.8

    L.1.1

    L.1.2

    L.1.6

Create a postcard of what you saw on your visit to North America.

5

  • Explore South America — Pages 6-7, 10-19

    RI.1.1

    RI.1.5

    RI.1.7

    SL.1.2

    L.1.6

Describe two to three different things you can see on the continent of South America.

6

  • Explore South America pp. 18 – 31

    RI.1.1

    RI.1.5

    RI.1.7

    SL.1.2

    L.1.6

Describe two to three specific things you may see in South America.

7

Writing

  • Explore South America

    RI.1.1

    W.1.2

    W.1.8

    L.1.1

    L.1.2

    L.1.6

Create a postcard of what you saw and where you went on your visit to South America by writing an informational text that names a topic and supplies one to two facts about the topic.

8

  • Explore Africa — pp. 6-7, 10-19

    RI.1.1

    RI.1.5

    RI.1.7

    SL.1.1

    L.1.6

Describe two to three things that make the continent of Africa special.

9

  • Explore Africa pp. 20 – 31

    RI.1.1

    RI.1.5

    RI.1.7

    SL.1.1

    L.1.6

Describe two things you might see in Africa.

10

Writing

    RI.1.1

    W.1.2

    L.1.1

    L.1.2

    L.1.6

Create a postcard of what you saw and where you went on your visit to Africa by writing an informational text that names a topic and supplies one to two facts about the topic.

11

  • Explore Asia pp. 8 – 19

    RI.1.1

    RI.1.5

    RI.1.7

Describe what you might see in the desert and what text features the author includes to help the reader better understand what they would see in the desert.

12

  • Explore Asia pp. 20 – 31

    RI.1.1

    RI.1.5

    RI.1.7

Describe some of the famous tourist spots in Asia and how the text features help the reader better understand the locations.

13

Writing

  • Explore Asia

    W.1.2

    L.1.1

    L.1.2

    L.1.6

Write a travel poster that highlights something you could see or do in Asia.

14

  • Explore Europe — pp. 6-7, 10-19

    RI.1.1

    RI.1.3

    RI.1.5

    RI.1.7

Explain how landforms and ecosystems influence the way people live in different parts of Europe.

15

  • Explore Europe pp. 22 – 31

    RI.1.1

    RI.1.5

    RI.1.7

Describe two to three things a person visiting Europe may see.

16

Writing

  • Explore Europe

    W.1.2

    L.1.1

    L.1.2

    L.1.6

Write a travel poster that highlights something you could see or do in Europe.

17

  • Explore Australia and Oceania

    RI.1.1

    RI.1.5

    RI.1.7

Describe two to three unique things you might see if you visited Australia and Oceania.

18

  • Explore Europe

  • Explore Australia and Oceania

    RI.1.1

    RI.1.5

    RI.1.7

    RI.1.9

    SL.1.1

Explain if Australia is just like Europe.

19

  • Explore Antartica — pp. 8-9, 12-13, 14-15, 18-19, 20-21, 26-27, 30-31

    RI.1.1

    RI.1.5

    RI.1.7

Describe two to three unique things you might see if you visited Antarctica.

20

  • Explore North America

  • Explore Antartica

    RI.1.1

    RI.1.5

    RI.1.7

    RI.1.9

Explain if Antarctica is just like North America.

21

Assessment

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Writing

    W.1.1

    W.1.5

    L.1.1

    L.1.2

Write an opinion piece to share which continent you would like to visit.

Common Core Standards

Language Standards
  • L.1.1 — Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

  • L.1.2 — Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

  • L.1.4 — 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.

  • L.1.6 — 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).

Reading Standards for Informational Text
  • RI.1.1 — Ask and answer questions about key details in a text.

  • RI.1.3 — Describe the connection between two individuals, events, ideas, or pieces of information in a text.

  • RI.1.4 — Ask and answer questions to help determine or clarify the meaning of words and phrases in a text.

  • RI.1.5 — Know and use various text features (e.g., headings, tables of contents, glossaries, electronic menus, icons) to locate key facts or information in a text.

  • RI.1.7 — Use the illustrations and details in a text to describe its key ideas.

  • RI.1.9 — Identify basic similarities in and differences between two texts on the same topic (e.g., in illustrations, descriptions, or procedures).

Speaking and Listening Standards
  • SL.1.1 — Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 1 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups

  • SL.1.2 — Ask and answer questions about key details in a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.

  • SL.1.5 — Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.

  • SL.1.6 — Produce complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation.

Writing Standards
  • W.1.1 — 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.

  • W.1.2 — Write informative/explanatory texts in which they name a topic, supply some facts about the topic, and provide some sense of closure.

  • W.1.5 — 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.

  • W.1.8 — With guidance and support from adults, recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.

Sprial Standards

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RI.1.10