Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog

Using Language Arts to Meet Social Studies Standards in Grade One: Part 4
This is a guest blog post by Dr. Geraldine Haggard, who is a retired teacher, Reading Recovery teacher leader, author, and university teacher. She spent 37 years in the Plano, TX school system. She currently tutors, chairs a committee that gifts books to low-income students, teaches in her church, and serves as a facilitator in a program for grieving children.

This is the last post in a four-part series. You can see the first post here, the second post here, and the third post here.

The purpose of this series of blog posts is threefold: sharing the importance of the social studies standards, explaining how to combine the uses of the Language Arts and Social Studies in the first grade, and sharing ways to use Language Arts Standards and leveled books to deliver social studies expectations centered around homes. Specific books will be keyed to specific social studies standards as examples.

Use of Leveled Books to Deliver Social Studies Expectations for Grade One

I am listing (in alphabetical order) six examples of books appropriate for incorporating language arts standards with social studies expectations in grade one, along with suggestions for language arts activities. The first three were listed in the third post in the series, and the second three are below. If you’d like to use these ideas as lesson plans for these books, I’ve linked to where you can buy the books, but you can also use these suggestions as guidelines to apply to any similar books you might already have on hand.

4) My Big Sister by Teri Horne

  • Families have rules and expectation
  • Families help each other
  • Families are kind and considerate of each other
  • Families differ in size
  • Understanding what a family is
Lesson suggestions:
  • Vocabulary to be developed can include 'patience,' 'sharing,' 'helping,' 'younger,' 'older,' 'selfish,' ‘kindness,' 'considerate.'
  • Prepare for the sharing of the book by making a list on the board of students in the following family categories: ONLY CHILD, TWO CHILDREN, THREE CHILDREN, MORE THAN THREE CHILDREN. Provide time for the children to study the lists. They can then share the thoughts that come to them. Some families have more children than other families. Invite them to share good things about having siblings. If they have siblings, they may also discuss problems they have with them.
  • After this activity tell them that you are going to share a story about two sisters. Ask them to listen carefully and be ready to talk about how each sister in the story feels about her sister. Share the front cover using an opaque projector if possible and introduce the sisters. Read the story slowly and display the pictures as you read each page. Provide opportunities for the children to make comments.
  • The following questions can guide the discussion: "How many of you have older siblings that treat them in the same way as the older sister in the family treated her sister?" "How does this make them feel? " "How did the little sister react? Why do you think she acted in this way?" "How do we know that the sisters really love each other?" "Are there ways that you can treat older (or younger) siblings, in a way that lets them know that you really love them?"
  • Ask the children to write two ways they can be considerate and kind to a sibling. This means that they really think about how the younger or older sibling feels. Children with no sibling can write about how they should treat a good friend. Explain to the group that that is how they should treat a brother or sister. They can be a best friend to their brother or sister. Invite volunteers to read their suggestions. Ask them to use one of the suggestions and be ready to share the next day what happened. Make time the next day for this sharing. What happened when they were kind to a brother or sister?
  • Give each child a piece of paper and show him how to fold it into two parts. Display a title for them to copy at the top of the page. “(Sibling’s name)____________ IS LIKE AND UNLIKE ME.” They then label one side ALIKE and the other UNLIKE and list at least three ways they are alike and three ways they are unlike. They write a sentence telling why they love that sibling. A child with no sibling can choose a friend. Those with more than one sibling can choose one of their brothers or sisters. If there is time, the back of the page can be used for them to draw a picture of themselves with their sibling or friend. Suggest that the children sit in groups of three and share their work. The completed pages can be made into a book for the classroom library.



5) My Family (LS1) by Adria Klein Ph.D., Barbara Allen, Allison Briceño, Bee Medders, Deb Nemecek, Nicki Smith & Susan Wray


  • Different kinds of families live within a community (Culture, types of homes, languages, customs, traditions)
  • Families have lived in different places in the past

Lesson suggestions:

  • Vocabulary to be developed: 'family,' 'responsibilities,' 'lifestyles,' language spoken,' 'customs,' 'grandparents, ' 'traditions. '
  • As the vocabulary words are used in discussion, listening, reading, and writing, students can record them in their journals, and the words can also be kept in a list on display for teacher to refer to and discuss as the book is used. Make a deliberate attempt to include the use of the vocabulary words.
  • Share the family picture on the front cover of the book. Invite discussion based on the family in the picture. The students can share what they see: members of the family, children and grandparents, a home, etc.
  • After using the book in discussion and reading, the children can draw family portraits similar to the book cover. They then sit in groups of four and each child shares his family portrait and talks about his family.
  • A large group discussion could be based on discussing likenesses and differences in family groups and comparisons made to the cover picture. How many children have grandparents living in the home? What languages are spoken in the homes? How many have younger children and grandparents living in the home. If so, how would that change the way the family members act and are helpful in the home?
  • The book can be read as a read aloud, used in guided reading, and/or placed in the classroom library. The simple sentence pattern of the LS1 (Language Structure 1) book can be used by the children as they create and illustrate small books about their families. These books can be put in the classroom library as well. The last page of the book is a summary statement. Share that statement and why it is a good way to end their books.
  • The picture and text on page 5 can be used to discuss food customs/traditions. Explain that a custom is something that is done at special times and often. Saying the pledge to the flag is a custom in the school. The kind of food that Dad is cooking may be a tradition or something that comes from having past family members share over many years. It may have started in another country. Ask the children to share special foods eaten in their families and decide if those foods are traditional foods. Do the foods have foreign names? Are some of the foods parts of special days or holidays?
6) My Pets (LS1) by Adria Klein Ph.D., Barbara Allen, Allison Briceño, Bee Medders, Deb Nemecek, Nicki Smith & Susan Wray


  • Families have rules and responsibilities
  • Families work together
  • Family members are independent
  • Understanding that pets are sometimes family members

Lesson suggestions:

  • Vocabulary to be developed: 'rules,' 'responsibilities,' 'kindness,' 'pets,' 'family members,' 'care of pets,' 'feeds.'
  • Display the cover of the book and talk about the boy and his many pets. Ask the children to face a neighbor and share information about their own pet if they have a family pet. Invite the children to share some of the pets they heard about: dogs, cats, fish, birds, hamsters, etc. Make a list on the board, or screen, of each animal mentioned.
  • Conduct a survey on types of pets: have students raise a hand if they have a particular type of pet at home. List the number of responses for each animal. Invite the children to share what they know after seeing the results of the survey. 'What was the most popular pet?' 'Second most popular?' 'Which pets were the most unusual?'
  • Conclude the discussion with what having the pet means to each family member: is it a family friend, someone to play with, a buddy for exercising together, etc.)
  • The next day, introduce the children to Carlos in My Pets. Share the front cover and ask the children to identify a pet Carlos has that none of them has.
  • Suggest that the students listen carefully and find what these animals have in common. (Each animal has to be fed.)
  • After you have shared each page visually and orally, get responses. The following questions could guide the conversation: "What does Carlos have to know about feeding each pet? (When, what food, how much food, where to feed the pet, what does the pet need in addition to food?)
  • Conclude the conversation by sharing the meaning of 'responsibility' and guiding a discussion of responsibilities the family members must have to have a happy and healthy pet. ‘Should this be the parents' responsibility only?’ ‘What can you do be responsible for the care of a pet?’ ‘Page three includes a calendar. What dates might be put on your pet's calendar?’ (Vet visits, shots, grooming, etc.)
  • Each child can draw a picture of a pet and write a description of the pet. If a child has no pet, he can share a pet he would select and describe it. Use the picture on page three to guide children is composing oral sentences about Carlos's dog. Explain that they can look at the picture of their pet and write sentences to describe size, color, kind of pet, what it eats, how the child cares for it, etc.
  • If there are young children in the family, the small ones may need help in understanding how to be kind to pets. ‘What can happen if a family member is not kind to a pet?’ (Pets can become angry and not be kind to the other family members. Friendship between the pet and the human members of the family is threatened. Pets may not trust the family member who is unkind and be unkind to that person. There is less joy in having a pet.)
  • Share the cover of My Pets. ‘How can we tell by Carlos's face that he is kind to his pets.' Revisit the pictures. Do the students see anything that makes them feel that Carlos's pets are not his friends? Ask the students to participate in a shared writing activity that is based ways to be kind to pets.

I hope that you will find ideas you can use with leveled books and enjoy using the language arts activities to deliver the important social studies expectations.


Geraldine Haggard is the author of several books from our Kaleidoscope Collection Series. For more information about the Kaleidoscope Collection Series click HERE to return to our website or click the series highlight page to the left below.  

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