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Song of the Swallows Lesson Plan

Instructor: Suzanne Rose

Suzanne has taught all levels PK-graduate school and has a PhD in Instructional Systems Design. She currently teachers literacy courses to preservice and inservice teachers.

Through activities and discussion in this lesson plan, students will learn about the migration of swallows from San Juan Capistrano, CA to South America, through the book, 'Song of the Swallows' by Leo Politi. Students will use maps and plot the distance traveled by the swallows during their migration.

Learning Objectives

As a result of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • explain the meaning of 'migration'
  • describe the migration of the swallows
  • identify several Spanish phrases
  • locate given places on a map

Length

30-45 minutes

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3.3

Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of event

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3.2

Recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3.7

Explain how specific aspects of a text's illustrations contribute to what is conveyed by the words in a story (e.g., create mood, emphasize aspects of a character or setting)

Materials Needed

  • Song of the Swallows by Leo Politi (one copy for read aloud)
  • Map of the Americas, showing the United States, Central America and South America (large)
  • Map of the Americas, showing the United States, Central America and South America (handout, 1 per student)
  • Video of the swallows returning to San Juan Capistrano (available free online)

Vocabulary

  • migrate
  • Buenos dias (Good morning)
  • Las golondrinas (sparrows)
  • Vienen las golondrinas (The swallows are coming)
  • Buenas tardes (Good evening)

Instructions

  • Introduce the book to the students by showing them the cover.
  • Read the title. Ask the students to predict what the story might be about, based on the cover illustration and the title alone.
  • Point out the Caldecott Medal on the cover; explain to the students that this book was awarded the Caldecott Medal in 1950 for having exceptional illustrations.
  • Introduce the students to the Spanish vocabulary included in the book:
    • Buenos dias (Good morning)
    • Las golondrinas (sparrows)
    • Vienen las golondrinas (The swallows are coming)
    • Buenas tardes (Good evening)
  • Read the book aloud to the students, pausing after each page to show the illustrations.
  • Ask students how the pictures in the book make them feel. How do the colors reflect the story?
  • Discuss the book by asking the students questions focusing on the story elements:
    • Who were the characters in the story?
    • What was the setting of the story?
    • What was the 'problem' in the story? (Explain that the problem is not always a 'problem' as we think of it, but it can be what the main character wants or is waiting for.)
    • What did Juan do to try to attract swallows to his home? Did it work?
    • Where do the swallows go when they are gone from San Juan Capistrano? (In the book, it says that no one really knows; they might go to a 'land far south of us' or a 'green island in the Pacific Ocean' but 'no one really can tell.')
  • Explain the meaning of the word 'migration' to students and relate this to the swallows' travels.

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