Thematic Hawaiian Islands

Katharine Klevinskas

Overview of 5 Lesson Plans

1. Intro to the Hawaiian Islands:

Children learn that there are volcanoes on the Islands. They learn the difference between dormant and active volcanoes. They learn about the different types of lava and play some “stay away from the hot lava” games. They began our full wall bulletin board of “Hawaii” by building an active volcano of construction paper.

2. Map skills:

Students review their knowledge of continents, oceans and the compass rose. They learn a little tune about the four oceans. They measure the Pacific using alternative measuring (their hands) and learn that it is the largest. In cooperative groups they learn where the Hawaiian Islands can be found on a world map, a USA map and a globe.

3. Learning about fish that live in the ocean off Hawaii:

Students use a science text to see photographs and read about salt water fish. They develop a word bank of vocabulary to increase sight words and reading fluency and to introduce skills and concepts to be taught. The word bank will be referred to and added to throughout this unit. Students each make an anatomically correct fish to add to our bulletin board.

4. Rewrite a Hawaiian folk tale:

Students have heard the story of Punia’s triumph over the selfish and dangerous sharks twice. As a whole class we have charted the story on large paper using a character, setting, problem, solution form. Today each gets to write her own, illustrate it and use it to present to the class.

5. Compare homes in Olivehurst to Punia’s home in Hawaii:

The students each draw a picture of their own homes and some of the things they see in their own neighborhood. They then do a directed drawing activity to create the home from the story. The students compare and contrast the two homes. In small groups they chart a Venn diagram and develop an oral presentation telling the differences they saw. This is a culminating activity in that they now have extensive knowledge and vocabulary to discuss Punia’s home and lifestyle in Hawaii.

6. Performance Based Unit Assessment

Second graders are not given a test at the end of a thematic unit. The teacher observes them and tests for knowledge frequently every day. Samples of their work are collected in a portfolio in order to chart growth of skills and knowledge. Further understanding is exhibited through their writing, their journals, their art as well as their general academic growth across the curriculum.

Lesson One

The Hawaiian Islands

I have been planning to begin a unit studying Hawaii during our school’s multi-cultural month. This year I have a child in my class who is Hawaiian, and in a SDAIE sense have been introducing this subject since September. I talk and read about Hawaii frequently, making sure it has come up in my curriculum as much as Mexico, Laos, Montana, Iowa and all the other places my students come from.

I am teaching this lesson as an introduction to a unit on Hawaii. The key concept I want them to learn at this point is simply that Hawaii is an interesting place and we want to learn more about it.

The second graders are fascinated with the idea of a volcano exploding and hot lava flowing, so a lesson on volcanoes seemed an excellent place to begin. I read aloud an introductory non-fiction book: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, being sure to discuss all the pictures and, as a preteaching activity, compare fire, ash, heat, lava, eruptions and earthquakes to familiar concepts.

The children were primarily interested in the hot lava and the damage it could do. They thought the eruption looked like the Fourth of July which lead to a further discussion of explosion / eruption. They labeled some of our floor tiles “hot lava” and can no longer step on them. I have ashes from the Mt.. St. Helens eruption which I brought in and passed around for them to see.

We began a mapping web, with the word “Hawaii” in the center and “volcanoes” out to the side. We will add to this map with each topic we study.

On a fresh sheet of paper I wrote the title “opposites” . The students and I brainstormed a list of opposites that pertain to the volcanoes, thereby giving them more vocabulary and more understanding. Because we often chart opposites, they were all comfortable with the concept and able to offer suggestions.

in / out up / down hot / cold loud / quiet safe / dangerous shaking / still

This chart is posted on the wall and will be added to and referred to as needed, giving the students scafolding for understanding and their writing.

To add hands-on interest to this lesson, I gave the children red, orange and yellow paper to make flowing lava for our volcano bulletin board. They worked with a partner, deciding whether their lava should erupt into the air or flow down the sides of the volcano. (As a class we had discussed the merits of each.) None of the yellow paper was used, and only a little orange in the eruption, which showed me that the children had a very clear understanding of how the hot lava should look. They also wanted to put people and houses in the way of the lava, demonstrating again that they understand its power.

The positive affective domain was promoted through the use of an exciting subject that was familiar to most of them from the beginning. I used books, pictures, and real volcanic ash. I charted and posted two forms of graphic organizer, let them jump around and be “afraid” of hot lava on our classroom floor, and let them work in pairs to make their own molten lava for our board.

Lesson Two

Map Skills

I gather the students together and simply ask, “Who wants to point to somewhere on our map?” With this introduction they clamber to take turns to use one of our long pointers to choose any country, state, ocean, etc. that they know. The other children name the place and the pointing child gets to choose the next one to point. It’s all very exciting; they get to show off their prior knowledge, be in charge, and have the power to pick the next person. Every minute that one child is standing by the map pointing, I have 20 others thinking hard about all the places they know.

I might have to preteach the placement of the Hawaiian Islands and show them how to compare the world and USA maps; pointing out that they are really so far away they have to be “patched” on next to California. We use the globe which gives them another perspective. We measure with our palms to see how large the Pacific Ocean is and learn that it is the largest of the oceans.

I teach the students a little song to help them learn the names of the four oceans. (scaffolding)

The Atlantic’s the name of an ocean, Pacific and Indian, too. The Arctic is often forgotten I know my oceans, do you?

The song is put into pocket charts so that we can sing it often, while a student points to the words. For future lessons I use it in varied ways to reinforce their reading and punctuation skills. (scaffolding)

As a follow-up I have the children color states on an outline of the USA. I give them directions how to color (‘color California blue’, ‘color the Hawaiian Islands green’ etc.) in order for them to demonstrate their knowledge and me to assess it. Although the primary study skill is to read a map, they also need to know how to read the directions, and they are learning to transfer knowledge learned orally to paper.

I check for understanding by observing the students. Are they actively involved in the map searches? the singing and chanting? the coloring? Did they need help to color the right states the correct colors?

To promote a positive affective domain:

a familiar activity discussion of family roots active involvement with classmates singing, chanting reading together coloring cooperative puzzles exhibiting art work on walls

Lesson Three

Learning about fish that live in the ocean off Hawaii.

We are using our Science text today. I introduce this lesson by holding up pictures of tropical fish and letting the children describe what they see. They are eager to share all they know about fish. I hold up my copy of the text and page through as I ask and they tell what they know, prompted by the photos.

I am able to reinforce key concepts and vocabulary they contribute and to introduce any that need to be added. I take time to preteach the meanings of words they probably don’t know. (scales, gills & fins using a poster and comparing to our own body parts; fresh water, ocean water and cold & warm blooded by reviewing and remembering past lessons)

The brainstormed words are written onto a word bank that will be referred to throughout this unit.. The following are the key topics being taught in this lesson.

fish mammals tails fins fresh water ocean water scales gills cold-blooded warm-blooded

Each child now has a copy of the text and we do a shared reading lesson. The whole class reads along with me, stopping periodically to review vocabulary, check for understanding and share ideas. Reading together gives all the readers support with any new words (scaffolding) and it frees those who aren’t reading yet to concentrate on content.

After reading the chapter, I refer the children to the word bank we made. It is a game for them to hunt through the text to find each word that is on the board. I am reinforcing the study skill that teaches them to read for meaning and information.

This lesson culminates in an art project. Children make large construction paper fish for our ocean and palm tree bulletin board. It is a directed cut and paste project. I model in front of the class how to make each major cut and give them a good idea how the fish will look when done. At each major step I check their understanding and progress by observing them and asking them about their projects.

My expectation is that each child’s fish has tail, fins, scales, gills, eyes and mouth. While showing them how to cut these pieces and glue them on, the words are restated and their positions and uses reiterated. I feel I’ve given the students a very hands-on, interesting way to learn about fish.

Positive Affective Domain: a familiar subject shared reading posters and photographs word bank (graphic organizer) sharing knowledge art project modeling restating comparing fish parts to human parts

Lesson Four

Rewrite a Hawaiian Folk tale:

I introduce this lesson by telling students they will be rewriting the book: Punia and the King of Sharks by Lee Wardlaw. The have already heard this book outloud, and they have had opportunity to read it on their own. I chose this story because it combines a popular topic (sharks), an action-filled plot and the triumph of the weak over the strong. In other words; it’s an excellent example of characters, setting, problem and solution, story parts which are the second grade basis for comprehending and writing fiction. Begin the review of the story by having the children make a large circle on the floor. Tell them to think of their favorite part of the story. Using a ball of yarn, the teacher starts by holding yarn, sharing my favorite part, then calling a student's name and rolling the ball of yarn to him/her. That student holds on to his piece and repeats the process I began. Continue stating a favorite part and rolling the yarn until eight to ten students have had a chance. When this activity is complete, the children will have made a giant web that they can actually touch and manipulate. (scaffolding). We reverse the process, sending the yarn back from whom it came. As each child states again a favorite part of the story, the teacher writes it on bulletin board paper in a more traditional web form. The children are encouraged to see the similarity between the semantic web and the yarn one they actually held. Use the written web to orally make full sentences about the story. “Punia tricks the sharks out of their delicious lobsters.” “Punia and his mother are tired of eating only yams. They wanted the lobsters.” “The King of the Sharks almost eats Punia.”

I direct the children’s attention to the wall chart I have ready for them. I tap their prior knowledge by having them tell me what they remember so we can begin filling in this chart.

_____________________________________________________ characters setting problem solution _____________________________________________________


This type of chart is a familiar one for the children. They have no problem describing the story parts. After I read the book to them again we will add to the chart and change it around as necessary. It, of course, remains posted for reference. (scaffolding) After this discussion, I read the book to the children. Because I took the time to preteach skills for this lesson, I notice that as I read the story to them, they listen intently. I know that they are able to enjoy the excitement of the plot, and to assimilate any new sounds or structures of English because we have reviewed and explained both the plot and any idioms that occur. Because many of our lessons have had to do with Hawaiian life, island landscape, and life in the ocean, I’ve created a strong supportive context which makes all this language and content comprehensible to each of the children regardless of ability. After the story we add a few concepts to the chart. We review some spelling skills and punctuation rules. I remind them to stick to the main ideas; not to bird walk all over the page. (study skills) The children need a break from sitting and listening. Most of this book lends itself to acting out so we do some improve. (scaffolding) Punia manages to trick eleven sharks away from the delicious lobsters, so I use sticks to choose a Punia and the sharks. They trick each other and chase each other and pantomime being bitten by a lobster. When only Punia and the King of Sharks are left, it becomes very suspenseful and exciting. Eventually Punia is hailed as the new King of Sharks and we all cheer and have a celebration parade. By the time we act this out twice (so everyone gets a chance) the students are refreshed, have produced vast amounts of language about the story and are ready to write. The children are transferring the story onto a graphic organizer that is familiar to them. Essentially it is the same as the chart on the wall, but with flip-up sections to make it more fun for them. Each child makes her own story rewrite, demonstrating her understanding of the four elements we have been studying. Other skills I expect to see demonstrated are basic spelling and handwriting skills, fine motor abilities, as well as following directions, thinking for oneself and planning ahead on a project. As the children work I walk among them, giving encouragement and praise as needed. The children are often asked to read to me what they have written while they are writing in order that they too are checking for understanding along with me. When they finish, they can read their stories to each other and to me. They often go to the office and to other adults on campus to read their stories outloud. Finally they are hung on a bulletin board, low enough that all the children can reach and read them.

I feel a positive affective domain was promoted in this lesson through the active use of all four modes of communication (listening, speaking, reading and writing), authentic literature, and the thematic unit. The students have the time (a book read more than once and over a period of time) and support (webbing, dramatization, teacher’s paraphrasing, a continuing theme) which empower them to become more independent and self-directed in their learning strategies.

Lesson Five

Compare homes in Olivehurst to Punia’s home in Hawaii:

Previously each student has drawn a picture of her own home surrounded by the things seen in our own neighborhoods. We brainstormed local terrain and structures and have saved the drawings to use with this and other activities. We have read a few stories about Hawaiian children, and today we watched a video about the Islands. Prior lessons taught about different kinds of homes all over the world. We have also focused on houses in fairy tales and fables. Today I introduce this lesson and a focusing discussion about different homes by reading an old favorite: A House is a House by . I am able to tap into their prior knowledge by giving them time to share what they remember and know. Today the students will create a tropical setting for Punia’s home. They are to slide an oak tag pattern of a palm tree under their white paper. They use the side of a crayon that has been stripped and rub over the tree. Moving the tree pattern all around under the paper, rubbing over it each time will create more trees. Overlap the trees to create a lush tropical effect. Using the side of a striped brown crayon will make the beach, and below that the side of a few different shades of blue will create an interesting ocean effect. Using pieces of construction paper the children will make Punia’s house, a volcano for the background, the underwater cave where the lobsters hid, the lobsters and the sharks guarding the cave. They will add flowers, fish, birds, fruit, weapons, boats and anything else they have learned about in our unit and think appropriate. The art activity is scaffolding for the cooperative writing activity they will do next. The key topics to be taught in this lesson are twofold. I want them to be able to show all they have learned about the Hawaiian Islands, so I can use their work for my assessment. This lesson is also planned to increase the students’ comprehension using compare and contrast strategies and to review social studies concepts regarding what we need to live, such as how/where to get food, where to sleep, how to travel, how to protect our selves. After the children finish their drawings, we review together how to chart a Venn diagram. They have worked with them before and I only have to do a review in order to insure understanding. (scaffolding & study skills) I break the students into groups of four so that they can work together to compare the similarities and differences they see in their eight drawings. Within their cooperative group they are vocalizing, probing for information, listening actively, taking turns, building team spirit as well as basic organizing / writing skills. Venn diagrams are a difficult skill for second graders. They tend to believe they must fit every single concept from every drawing somewhere on the chart. I like to assign this type of chart because of all the conversation, confusion and arguments that evolve from them. The finished work is often chaotic and messy, but that’s fine because it’s the doing that was important. The art work they did is a good source for assessment and sharing the finished product. It’s a simple matter to check if the child understands the types of land, trees, wildlife etc that would be found in Hawaii. For example, if the student can describe the drawings and tell why he put this or that here or there, then I can hear him speak and know what he was thinking.

A positive affective domain was promoted in the classroom through the use of familiar activities. Whenever a lesson evolves out of childrens’ homes, they get easily involved. Doing an art activity that is partly directed and then free form gives them support to get started before the ideas start to flow. I reviewed the Venn diagram with them so they were confident in their small groups. The small group itself gives them more support than they would have alone. Above all, they know that all their work is appreciated and they are secure in trying something on their own and asking for advice when needed.

Performance Based Unit Assessment

I do not give second graders a test at the end of any unit. Since you insist on one, I will attach a simple Rubric for a writing assessment for my grade.

I use authentic assessment to tract the progress of the students as they move through all of the stages of learning, including English acquisition. Evaluation of student progress takes place during lessons without interrupting either instruction or the children’s activities. All the evaluation is based on activities that the children are doing, and they are often evaluating themselves along with me as they perform the activities. The students’ work, records of teacher observations, student self-assessments and observations of other adults involved are all collected in individual portfolios. Reviewing their work from the beginning to the end of the unit provides an overview of the student’s growth and forms the basis for individual evaluation and grading.

Throughout the Hawaiian unit, a variety of formats were used to document students’ oral language development, as well as their academic growth. During individual, partner and group activities assessment is found in story retellings, project research and project presentations. Individual contributions during dramatizations and discussions can be documented by the teacher. Their portfolios contain drawings created in response to reading & listening activities, journal entries, creative and factual writing as well as samples of any other seat work (ie: mapping). Work that was done in a group can be photocopied and put in each child’s file. When that isn’t practical, a note telling where to look for the child’s work can be inserted. The Hawaiian unit is designed to begin with a wide view of the Islands, narrowing into a more personal look comparing the way people live in Hawaii to the way people live here. The lesson plans were designed to bring my students to an understanding of how people everywhere are basically the same, even with all our external differences. A culminating activity which incorporates traditional assessment is to have the children write a fictional story about life on a tropical island. During lesson five, the children compared their drawings of their own homes with a home in Hawaii. They worked in cooperative groups to chart the differences on a Venn diagram. Although its not written in these five lesson plans, the children do spend a day constructing an island with a working volcano out of paper mache’. We also plan an Hawaiian feast, inviting family and/or other classroom. The children have an incredible amount of appropriate language they can use. As a final assessment, the students write about a day on the island. As they include details about the setting and the characters, the problem and solution, the teacher learns what they have assimilated about island life. For instance, if it is a snowy day and they are hunting wild animals with Abraham Lincoln, the teacher has a pretty good clue that they weren’t keeping up with discussions.

A simple Rubric can be used for this sort of assessment:

Three points: The writing is clear and complete, giving the main ideas with details that are logical to the unit. The student’s English flows in a logical sequence and the story has an ending.

Two points: The student’s writing includes three of the five elements listed above.

One point: The summary includes only one or two of the elements above.

Zero points: All other responses

Katharine Klevinskas

How many surfers have landed here? Wow!! Who woulda thunk!