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Example: Elementary content area unit

Unit overview

Subject Area: Literacy

Unit Title: Fantasies

Time frame: 4 weeks (October)

Michigan Standards/Grade Level Content Expectations:

Word Study:

  • R.WS.03.01 Use letter and word cues to recognize words.
  • R.WS.03.02 Use structural, semantic and syntactic cues to read.
  • R.WS.03.06 Acquire and apply strategies to construct meaning, self-monitor and identify unknown words.

Narrative/Informational Text:

  • R.NT.03.03 Identify and describe characters; thoughts and motivations, story-level themes, lessons, morals in narrative text.


  • R.CM.03.01 Connect personal knowledge to themes in text.
  • R.CM.03.02 Retell story elements of narrative text.
  • R.MT.03.01 Self-monitor comprehension.
  • R.AT.03.01 Be enthusiastic about reading and learning to read.


  • W.GN.03.01 Write a narrative piece.
  • W.PR.03.01 Set a purpose, consider audience, replicate authors' styles.
  • W.PR.03.02 Use pre-writing strategies.
  • W.PR.03.05 Respond orally to the writing of others.
  • W.PR.03.06 Edit and proofread.
  • W.SP.03.01 Spell frequently encountered words.


  • Reading: Running records, STAR computerized reading test at end of quarter, written responses to books, conferencing during silent reading.
  • Writing: Rubric for published fantasy story, considering plot, mechanics and characters, plus weekly spelling tests.


  • Basal: Two Bad Ants by Chris Van Allsburg, Jumanji by Van Allsburg, Tuesday by David Weisner, Commander Toad by Jane Yolen.
  • Book room class sets: Mr. Fantastic Fox by Roald Dahl, My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
  • Read aloud book: Witches by Roald Dahl
  • Other books to check out from library for read alouds or silent reading: Mysteries of Harris Burdick, The Polar Bear Express, Just a Dream (Van Allsburg), Chocolate Fever (Robert Kimmel-Smith), Littles (John Peterson), Where the Wild Things Are (Maurice Sendak), other fantasies.
  • Mysteries of Harris Burdick, book making supplies, book binder.

Connections to other subject areas:

Ask Ms. Sayler about making Van Allsburg pictures in Art.


Weekly overview

Week Learning objectives Activities

[see word study objectives above]

[see comprehension objectives above]

Use pre-writing strategies

Spell frequent words

Reading: Read together Commander Toad and Tuesday. Choose a fantasy to read during silent reading. Response: Identify problem and solutions.

Writing: Use Weisner books as places to start writing from. Talk about dreams and write.

Make words: Commander


[see word study objectives above]

[see comprehension objectives above]

Identify characters' thoughts and motivations.

Set a purpose, consider audience, replicate authors' styles.

Use pre-writing strategies.

Spell frequent words.

Reading: Van Allsburg Author Study. Read Two Bad Ants and Jumanji together. Read Mysteries of Harris Burdick aloud. Students must read two other Van Allsburg books during silent reading. Responses: write about characters. How do you know it's a Van Allsburg book? Make class list of Van Allsburg traits. Students must cite evidence.

Writing: Quick writes from pictures in Harris Burdick. Tell stories aloud to partners. Write scratch stories to develop ideas.


[see word study objectives above]

[see comprehension objectives above]

Identify story-level themes.

Write a narrative piece.

Respond orally to the writing of others.

Spell frequent words

Reading: Read together Mr. Fantastic Fox. Response: Make chart summarizing chapters. What is Roald Dahl trying to tell us? How is this book like and unlike Witches? What makes a fantasy? List all books we’ve read together and aloud. What do they have in common?

Make words: Fantastic

Writing: Choose one idea to develop into published fantasy. Fill out planning sheet and begin writing. Mini-lessons: planning; characters; and beginning, middle, end. Conference in partners.


[see word study objectives above]

[see comprehension objectives above]

Identify morals.

Edit and proofread.

Spell frequent words.

Reading: Read together My Father’s Dragon. Response: Describe characters, identify problems and solutions. What makes this a fantasy? What’s the moral?

Make words: pumpkins

Writing: Edit and rewrite piece. Illustrate. Bind as a book. Practice reading. Authors' party on Halloween. Invite parents.