INTRODUCTION TO THE UNIT
The Read Aloud and two Shared Reading texts in this unit focus on friendship. While studying the texts, students will be engaged in inquiring why friendship is important, what it means to be a friend, and the importance of being friends with people who are different from them and who are not just like themselves.
Three carefully selected and focused texts are used for inquiry, and multiple readings are encouraged for each one. Varied approaches to each text allow students more opportunities to explore the inquiry question. In addition to responding to teacher questions and prompts, students will practise self-questioning and reflection in order to think more deeply about the text and the information provided in the photographs and illustrations.
The Read Aloud text, Whoever You Are, exposes students to the idea that no matter where people live and how their lives might be different, they all have the same feelings and basic needs. This persuasive text helps lead to the understanding that everyone needs to feel cared for, and consequently, that everyone needs friends and should be friends because they have so much in common.
One Shared Reading text, Friends, is a non-rhyming poem that explores what makes a friend by showing various qualities of friends. The other Shared Reading piece, An Alien Birthday, is a fantasy story that introduces students to the idea of sharing new experiences with friends by using the scenario of attending the birthday party of an alien friend. Both Shared Reading pieces explore the bonds of friendship and the importance of being friends.Opportunities for oral language activities and playful learning are woven throughout as students discuss, dramatize planning and having a party, enact examples of friendship with puppets, paint and draw pictures of acts of friendship, and create self-portraits to place around a world map. Word lessons accompany each Shared Reading text and can be done with the whole class or small groups of students with similar needs. A brief Text Type writing study invites students to make a greeting card for a friend (Personal Communication: Greeting Card). The mentor text to support this writing project is An Alien Birthday.
For details about the unit, see the Let’s Be Friends Plan-at-a-Glance Chart.
Inquiry QuestionA critical thinking approach is stimulated when we have a key question to focus our thoughts. This inquiry question can motivate us to ask new questions, seek possible answers, and problem-solve to see which solutions may work best. It draws us deeper into an issue and helps us to make connections. The inquiry question for this unit is “Why should we be friends?”
Students explore the inquiry question by thinking about their friends (some of whom may speak a different language at home than them), what a friend really is, and how friends may do things differently from us. During the unit, students will focus on what friends do for each other and how friends care for each other and strive to make one another happy. They also discover that friends may be different from them in some ways, they are similar in many others, so that all of us can and should be friends. As the unit concludes, students will be able to respond to the inquiry question by providing good suggestions for why we should all be friends.
ELL NoteThis inquiry unit will engage English Language Learners (ELLs) as the theme of friendship is universal. Some of the language in this unit is abstract (‘special,’ ‘spend time,’ ‘places trust,’ ‘cares,’ ‘knowing you’) and these terms’ meanings can be conveyed over time by using these expressions in various situations in the classroom. For example, you could say “This morning you two did a painting together and now you’re eating lunch together. It’s wonderful to see two friends so happy to spend time together.”
Ask ELLs if they have a special friend here or in their place of origin and ask them to draw a picture of her- or himself doing something with the friend. Display students’ pictures of themselves with their friends and use these images to teach verbs to ELLs (e.g., “These friends are working/doing math/playing with puppets/laughing/throwing a ball.”).
As some Kindergarten students may not have experienced a birthday party, throw a class party to celebrate summer (or recent) birthdays. In your celebration, include a large party invitation (read by the teacher to the class), snacks (e.g., pretzels, cookies, drinks), party games (e.g., Pin the Tail on the Donkey, Freeze Dance, Hot Potato), and singing “Happy Birthday.” ELLs may wish to sing a traditional song sung at birthday celebrations in their place of origin. You may wish to display the phrase ‘Happy Birthday’ in many different languages on a bulletin board along with the birthdates of students.
In a centre, provide materials for students to make cards for the birthday kid(s). Students may illustrate their cards, or use magazine cut-outs to decorate the cards.
Encourage students (including ELLs) to bring in personal photos of themselves with friends and/or family. Discuss what is happening in the photo and, if applicable, show its country of origin on the globe. Help students write (or scribe) captions for their photos in the writing centre.
Use the illustrations in the Shared and Read Aloud books to introduce new vocabulary (e.g., colour words, parts of the body, numbers). For example, you may wish to discuss with students how people are the same because they have two eyes, two ears, and so on.
Enlist the help of parent volunteers or students who speak the same language as the ELLs. They can partner with students and together they can discuss the books and illustrations in their own languages and work together on the activities. While listening to the words of Shared Reading texts on the Media Key or online, the ELLs’ partners can simultaneously point to the written words, establishing a sound/symbol correspondence.
You may choose to modify the assessment rubric by reducing the number of expectations to be covered. The wording of the expectations can also be modified to read ‘begins to respond appropriately to questions,’ and so on.
Students learn English by looking and listening, so include non-verbal activities in order to promote eye contact and a keen ear. Encourage ELLs to use puppets to assist them in dramatic play about friends and friendship. These dramatizations can be performed with a partner in their first language, sprinkled with some new English vocabulary.
MONITORING PROGRESSYou will have numerous opportunities to observe students as they inquire through talk, dramatization, movement, artwork, and play.
- The Inquiry Assessment provides a checklist for you to observe and note student engagement with, and understanding of, the inquiry topic.
You will also wish to monitor other developmental areas. You may choose to use one or more of these assessment tools during the unit:
Use the Oral Language Assessment Scale to quickly observe and note oral language behaviours. Or, you may choose to use the Oral Language Development Checklist (see the K–3 Program and Planning Guide, pp. 81–83) for a more detailed monitoring of progress of children needing support in this area.
Use the Book Handling and Print Tracking Assessment (see the Kindergarten Reading Guide, p. 13) to check on early literacy concept development.
Use the Working with Words Checklists (see the Kindergarten Working with Words Guide, pp. 97–105) to record observed development in phonemic/phonological awareness, letter recognition, knowledge of high-frequency words, word solving and building skills, and the use of context (language predictability).