The Beauties of Fall

Students begin a year-long exploration of the seasons and how weather, plants, and animals change at different points in the year by reading about the beauties of fall and fall harvests.

Unit Summary

A note from our team: As part of the upgrade to Fishtank Plus, this unit will be revised this year. Some texts, materials, and questions may change as part of the revision.

In this unit, students begin a year-long exploration of the seasons and how weather, plants, and animals are different depending on the season by studying the beauties of fall and fall harvests. Students launch the unit by setting up an ongoing weather experiment in order to understand the patterns of fall and how weather changes during fall. While gathering on-going data about the changing weather in fall, students will learn and observe what happens to leaves in the fall and notice the difference between various types of leaves. In the second half of the unit, students explore the different harvests of fall, particularly apples and pumpkins, and discuss the basic life cycles of both. This unit is a chance for students to stop and think about the changes that are happening in the natural world around them and why the changes happen. It is our hope that by the end of the year, after studying winter and spring in subsequent units, students will have a deeper understanding of the unique features of each season. 

In reading, this is students’ first introduction to informational texts and reading to learn information. Students will continue to develop their inquisitive side by being challenged to ask and answer questions about the content and text they are interacting with. This unit exposes students to a subject matter that is present in their day-to-day lives; therefore, they should be challenged to ask questions and make connections between what they are reading and learning and what they are seeing outside. Additionally, while listening to stories, students will learn how to use the text and illustrations to determine the key details of a text and then use those details to retell what the text was mostly about. Students will also continue to understand the author’s and illustrator’s roles in writing texts and should be able to identify and explain both by the end of the unit. In this unit, students will also begin to explore the content in-depth by participating in labs and projects. These teacher-created projects will allow students to interact with and synthesize the material they are learning at an even deeper level. 

In writing, students will continue to write daily in response to the text. As with units 1 and 2, students are focusing on using correct details from the text to answer the question. Students should be using a combination of words and pictures, depending on the student’s development as a writer. Daily teaching points, based on student data, should be included to ensure that students are progressing as writers. 

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Texts and Materials

Core Materials

Supporting Materials

  • Assessment Text: “Busy Animals” by National Geographic Learning (National Geographic School Pub, 2010)

See Text Selection Rationale

Unit Prep

Essential Questions

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  • What makes fall special? 
  • What happens to leaves in the fall? 
  • What crops are harvested in fall? 
  • What is the weather like in the fall? How does the weather impact different living things? 

Writing Focus Areas

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In units 1 and 2, students learned the routines and procedures for daily writing about reading. In this unit, students will continue to write daily in response to the text, with a focus on using a combination of drawings and words to correctly answer the question. Short mini-lessons should be included before students go to write on their own, to model how to take ideas from a class discussion and turn them into pictures and words that correctly answer a question. Some students will only be able to use pictures, others will begin to use words, and some may be ready to include more advanced ideas such as inferences, critical thinking, or facts to support their answers. Due to the varying ranges in ability, individualized feedback is incredibly important to ensure that students are progressing toward the target of using a combination of drawings and words to correctly answer a question. 

Language Focus Areas

Pick class-wide or individual focus correction areas to focus on to help students learn the needed structures to make their writing legible. 

Writing-About-Reading Focus Areas

  • Uses a combination of drawings and words to correctly answer the question 
  • Includes an inference, critical thinking, or facts that show basic understanding of the question or text. 

Vocabulary

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Text-based

autumn bare blow breeze crop fall forecasting harvest jagged narrow ripe smooth stems survive tended variety vines weather wide

Academic

collect detail illustration observe record topic

Related Teacher Tools:

Intellectual Prep

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Building Content Knowledge: 

  • Research and learn about why leaves change color in the fall. Learn about the different types of leaves students may see around the school, and be prepared to notice and teach more about leaves based on students’ inquiries and wonders. 
  • Research and learn about fall harvests. 

Internalize the Text and Standards:

  • Read and internalize all unit texts with unit essential questions and standards in mind. 
  • Create a plan for how spiraling standards can be brought to life and reinforced over the course of the unit. 
    • RIK.1, RLK.1  How will you ensure that students are asking and answering questions daily? 
    • RIK.5, RIK.6  How can these standards be spiraled into the daily book introduction? 
    • SLK.2, SLK.3  What structures are in place to model and encourage students to ASK questions if they don’t understand something? 
  • Internalize unit science standards. What key understanding do students need in order to show mastery of the standards by the end of the year? 
  • Determine habits of discussion focus for the unit using targeted speaking and listening standards as a guide. Create a plan for how to introduce and reinforce the targets during daily lessons. 
  • Create a unit long plan that allows students to collect, observe, record, and analyze daily weather patterns. See lesson 2. Determining the weather patterns of fall is done in a deductive way and needs to be part of the daily routine even though it is not scripted into daily lesson frames. A deep understanding of weather patterns in fall and their impact on living things is also needed for the culminating activity. See lesson 16. 
    • Weather words students need to master in this unit: windy, cloudy, rain, frost, chilly 
  • Plan projects and learning labs that help students deepen their understanding of leaves, apples, and pumpkins. If possible, plan a field trip to a local farm. 
  • Depending on pacing and daily schedule, have students write an informational text that describes everything they learned about fall. This could be included at the end of the unit as an additional culminating project, during literacy centers, or during writer’s workshop. Make copies of the students’ texts in order to create a final book at the end of the year that describes all of the seasons. 
  • Locate additional books on leaves, apples, and pumpkins to place in the library for student independent reading and research during literacy centers or learning labs. 

Content Knowledge and Connections

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  • Identify autumn/fall and characteristics of local weather patterns during fall.
    • Chilly, windy, frost, cloudy, rain
  • Explain why leaves change colors and describe the different types of leaves they may see.
  • Identify apples and pumpkins as fall harvests.
  • Explain why farmers use scarecrows to protect their harvests.
  • Identify the basic parts of a pumpkin plant (seed, root, stem, branch, leaf).
  • Identify facts about apples and how they grow.

Assessment

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

Lesson Map

1

Discussion

    RI.K.1

    SL.K.1

    SL.K.6

Brainstorm one or two questions about fall by asking and answering questions about details from a discussion. 

2

  • Fall Weather

    K-ESS2-1

    K-ESS3-2

Create a plan to collect, record, and observe the weather daily by using quantitative observations of local weather conditions to describe patterns over time.

3

  • Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf

    RI.K.1

    RI.K.2

Explain how the tree changes from the beginning to the end, by using words and illustrations to retell key details in a text. 

4

  • Why Do... — skip 16-21

    RI.K.1

    RI.K.3

Explain why leaves change color, by using words and illustrations to retell key details in a text. 

5

  • Autumn Leaves

    RI.K.1

    RI.K.2

Describe the types of leaves we might see in autumn and what they look like by using words and illustrations to retell key details in a text. 

6

  • Leaf Man

    RL.K.2

Explain where Leaf Man goes, by using words and illustrations to retell key details in a text. 

7

  • Leaves

    RL.K.3

Explain why the little bear was confused and what advice you could give the little bear about what was happening with the leaves, by using words and illustrations to retell key details and ideas in a text. 

8

  • We're Going On ...

    RI.K.2

    RI.K.3

Retell what the kids did on the leaf hunt by retelling familiar stories and including key details. 

9

Project

  • Leaf unit texts

    K-ESS2-1

    K-ESS2-2

    W.K.8

    SL.K.1

    SL.K.2

    L.K.6

Complete a leaf-related project by using details from multiple texts to show understanding of leaves. 

10

  • Fall Harvests

    RL.K.1

    RL.K.2

Explain what a harvest is and what types of foods can be harvested in the fall, by using the words and illustrations to retell key details in a text. 

11

  • The Pumpkin Book — Stop at Pilgrims

    RL.K.2

Explain what the text was mostly about and three to four things they learned about pumpkins, by identifying the main topic of a text and using the words and illustrations to retell key details. 

12

  • The Pumpkin Book — Close-read

    RL.K.3

Explain how pumpkins grow, by using the text and illustrations to describe the connection between key details in a text. 

13

  • Apples

    RL.K.2

Explain what the text was mostly about and three to four things they learned about apples, by identifying the main topic of a text and using the words and illustrations to retell key details.

14

  • Apples — Close-read

    RL.K.3

Explain how an apple tree changes from season to season, by using the text and illustrations to describe the connection between key details in a text. 

15

Project

  • The Pumpkin Book

  • Apples

    W.K.8

    SL.K.1

    SL.K.2

    L.K.6

Complete an apple- or pumpkin-related project by using details from multiple texts to show understanding of apples and pumpkins. 

16

Discussion

    K-ESS2-1

    K-ESS3-2

    SL.K.1

    SL.K.6

    L.K.6

Use the data collected to create a weather forecast that describes what weather is like in the fall and how it impacts different living things, by sharing observations of local weather conditions to describe patterns over time.

17

Assessment

Common Core Standards

Earth and Human Activity
  • K-ESS3-2 — Ask questions to obtain information about the purpose of weather forecasting to prepare for, and respond to, severe weather. Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on local forms of severe weather.

Earth's Systems
  • K-ESS2-1 — Use and share observations of local weather conditions to describe patterns over time. Clarification Statement: Examples of qualitative observations could include descriptions of the weather (such as sunny, cloudy, rainy, and warm); examples of quantitative observations could include numbers of sunny, windy, and rainy days in a month. Examples of patterns could include that it is usually cooler in the morning than in the afternoon and the number of sunny days versus cloudy days in different months. Assessment Boundary: Assessment of quantitative observations limited to whole numbers and relative measures such as warmer/cooler.

  • K-ESS2-2 — Construct an argument supported by evidence for how plants and animals (including humans) can change the environment to meet their needs. Clarification Statement: Examples of plants and animals changing their environment could include a squirrel digs in the ground to hide its food and tree roots can break concrete.

Language Standards
  • L.K.1 — Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

  • L.K.2 — Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

  • L.K.4 — Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on kindergarten reading and content.

  • L.K.5 — With guidance and support from adults, explore word relationships and nuances in word 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.5 — Identify the front cover, back cover, and title page of a book.

  • RI.K.6 — Name the author and illustrator of a text and define the role of each in presenting the ideas or information in a text.

  • RI.K.10 — Actively engage in group reading activities with purpose and understanding.

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

  • 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.

  • RL.K.10 — Actively engage in group reading activities with purpose and understanding.

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.2 — Confirm understanding of a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media by asking and answering questions about key details and requesting clarification if something is not understood.

  • SL.K.3 — Ask and answer questions in order to seek help, get information, or clarify something that is not understood.

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