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


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)


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


  • 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.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account