Elementary Monthly Lessons
The instructional lessons for each unit at the elementary grade band contain a consistent format for identified reading, writing, and math activities. The activities presented at the elementary grade band align to state and educational standards for grades K-2. It is essential that teachers assess their students' current abilities and plan instructional tasks that differentiate for maximum participation and learning within each of these lessons.
Lesson content is automatically added into subject blocks in Teacher Dashboard according to the schedule set by the teacher. Choose the subjects that you teach during the My Plan setup wizard to populate lesson materials from the Suggested Monthly Plan.
For more information on the Teacher Dashboard, click here.
Science & Social Studies Theme
Each Unique Learning System® unit is designed to address a social studies or science topic. These topics are embedded in the materials as a thematic unit. The Standards Connection page at the beginning of the lesson plans will identify the social studies or science instructional targets for the entire unit. This introduction will address the scope of the unit in relation to these content standards. This may include ways and ideas that can be incorporated into lessons to assure that students are being instructed on content as well as the reading, writing and mathematics skills.
Reading, Writing & Mathematics Activities
After the topic is selected, reading, writing, math and related content activities are designed within the activities. This becomes a thematic unit with books, materials and hands-on activities that keep a central focus on the goals of the content area. In this way, students are provided instruction in a well-rounded foundation of science and social studies content, but with a continuing focus on increasing reading, writing, and math skills.
Each monthly unit contains a consistent format of lessons and activities. The lesson number and activity title stay the same each month, while the content changes appropriately to the unit topic. Access the Year Topics in the left menu of your subscription.
Lesson Plans are provided for each activity in the monthly unit.
Lesson Plans include several pages of content to extend on the learning objectives of the materials. The first page describes the overall objective of the lesson with,
- Instructional Targets
- Differentiated Tasks
- Topic Connection
- Vocabulary Words
- Standards Connections
Standards Connections are included in many of the lesson plans to add a more rigorous alignment of the materials to state and educational standards in ELA and Math. Standards Connections are only added to selected lessons.
Standards Connections are indicated by the link symbol after selecting the GO button from the iDoc Nav Bar.
A Standards Connection gives direction on how to extend the lesson with its included materials. Standards Connections include their own lesson plan page with instructions on how to approach the activity, instructional targets, and differentiated task levels. Additional activity sheets may also be included to support the connection to standards.
The instructional lessons for each unit at the Elementary level contain a consistent format for identified reading, writing, and math activities. It is essential that teachers assess students’ current abilities and plan instructional tasks that differentiate for maximum participation and learning within each of these lessons. These tips are designed to provide instructional ideas that will enable teachers to meet the needs of each student in the classroom, regardless of ability level.
Strategies with this icon bullet represent suggestions that are appropriate for the students with significant cognitive disabilities focusing on their complex functional and life skill needs. Eliciting a consistent and readable response may be the primary goal or participation.
Access the Instructional Tips document in the Teacher Reference Materials > Instructional Guides.
Reading & Comprehension
Reading: Lessons 1 & 3
Two general types of books are provided at the Elementary level: Leveled books and Easy Read books.
- Leveled Books in Lesson 1 are easy for students to read and make predictions about what words will come next. The lesson contains three levels of the same book, each generally not above a Level D. A Level aa book will present labels of distinct pictures from the book. A predictable line version of the story requires only one or two-word changes from the labeled story. The highest level of the series presents more content. It is likely that all three levels may be used during instructional reading at different times and with different learning purposes.
- Easy Read Books will contain a large number of high-frequency and decodable words. In these books, the story has a more distinct storyline, including a beginning, middle and end. Students will be introduced to skills that identify the main character, setting and events of a story
Unique Learning System has designated books, according to levels.
The guidelines for these levels are outlined in a document, “Leveled Books,” which can be found in the Teacher Reference Materials > Instructional Guides > Leveled Books.
Benchmark tools are also available in the GPS to assist teachers in selecting the appropriate reading level for students.
Additional leveled books from various authors and publishers are listed in a “Supplemental Reading Lists” document in the Monthly Tools section of the Monthly Lessons
The online collection, n2y Library, contains a variety of leveled books which address numerous student interests and topics as additionally supported reading materials.
Comprehension Activities: Lessons 2 & 4
The purpose of comprehension activities is to build meaning from the story. The Read and Answer format are intended to provide structure through questions that can lead to continued discussion or retelling of the story. Read and Answer activities are intended to build and check understanding of the story. The comprehension activity can be printed as a worksheet format or used as an interactive activity online.
The interactive features for the comprehension questions include drag and drop for Level 1 worksheets and choice interaction for Level 2 & 3 worksheets.
Unique Learning System provides a variety of early phonics skills within the Elementary grade band. These skills are incorporated into several word study lessons that follow the leveled books and comprehension activities for the unit topic.
Word Wall: Lesson 5
Word Wall words provide an opportunity for students to read and spell high-frequency words. Word wall activities can be very active. For examples, refer to Activity 4 in the document, “Word Study Guide,” which can be found in the Teacher Reference Materials > Instructional Guides > Word Study Guide.
The high-frequency words selected for each month are picked from the combined list of Dolch and Fry word lists. The composite list of these words is located in the document, “Dolch/Fry Word Lists,” which can be found in the Teacher Reference Materials > Instructional Tools > Dolch/Fry Word Lists. The Dolch/Fry word lists are categorized into four lists, based on frequency and complexity. The words on the lesson plans are selected from these lists. Some students may then be learning six words for the month, while others are learning 12 words.
Spelling List: Lesson 6,7,9,10
Lessons 6 and 7 present spelling lists for the high-frequency words, which have been identified in Lesson 5, Lessons 9, and 10 present spelling lists for the word rime words, which have been identified in Lesson 8. Spelling lists are provided in two formats, text only and text with SymbolStix support. Select the list format that is appropriate for the student. The activities within these lessons are designed to give students practice in reading, writing and spelling the words. It is critical that individual goals be established for the spelling lessons.
Word Families: Lesson 8
Word study activities continue with identified word rhymes. Each unit contains two-word rhyme activities. Word rhyme/onset activities enable students to see a pattern (the rhyme) that can change the word meaning by changing the beginning (onset) letter/sound. Word pronunciation can be supported with SymbolStix for meaning.
Word Sort: Lesson 11
The Word Sort activity presents initial consonant sounds and pictures that can be sorted based on the sound it begins with. One set is picture only, while the other set has a picture with the printed word. The main purpose of the lesson is to build skills to hear the sound matches, however, some students may require the added support of the visual letter match for the first sound/letter.
Vocabulary Match Game: Lesson 12
The Match game provides a means to reinforce vocabulary as well as the chance to develop turn-taking skills within a game format. For some students, this may be reinforcing picture identification. For others, this may provide a means to expand vocabulary through discussion and sentence building.
Scrambled Sentences: Lesson 13
Scrambled Sentences consist of simple sentences based on the stories within the unit. These sentences are separated into individual word cards that can be arranged into the correct sentence sequence. It is also a non-writing activity that presents a means to talk about the conventions of print, such as capitalization and punctuation. (Cues: Capital letters might mean it is the first word of the sentence. Periods or question marks mean the word will come at the end of the sentence.) It also supports sentence development and grammar forms that can be part of verbal communication skills.
Literacy Experience: Lesson 15 & 16
Literacy Experience activities are a combined reading and writing lesson. They are intended to build story comprehension through discussion and comprehension questions. Emphasis is placed on the use of illustrations to describe characters and events in a story. The books used for these lessons can be found in the document, “Supplemental Reading Lists,” which can be found in the Monthly Lessons > Monthly Tools > Supplemental Reading Lists.
Teacher Reference Materials
Unique Learning System has developed three guides - Phonemic Awareness, Word Study, and Vocabulary. While we must recognize the interdependence and overlap of these components of learning to read and write, this document will focus on the strategies and skills for developing word decoding and building sight word vocabulary.
Several writing lessons in the Elementary grade bands involve a response to literature. Topic-related literature books become the foundation for writing templates that allow students to write or select pictures to complete sentences. Good writing instruction, including modeling, should be used to implement these activities.
Patterned Book: Lesson 14
Lesson 14 contains a patterned sentence format. The pages of this book may be used to create class books. Writing is a process that involves not just the typical handwriting process but also the planning and communication that is involved. Using template formats allows students who do not have the ability to write to express an idea that is incorporated into a story, a paragraph, a poem or other document which can be conveyed to share information. Students may use SymbolStix as well as printed words to complete these documents. Consider ways that writing activities can be read, shared and extended beyond a “one-time” activity.
Writing Time: Lesson 17
This lesson is extended over several days and explores the writing process. Adaptations should be made so all students have an active way to participate. On day one, model the writing process. Utilizing either a whiteboard with a projector, the class board or a large sheet of paper to draw pictures, write sentences and revise ideas as you talk through the process. On the second day, students will generate their own pre-writing on the topic. Students are encouraged to motorically participate in writing/drawing as they brainstorm.
Venn Diagram/Simple Web: Lesson 18
The simple web is a sorting activity that takes content vocabulary and places the words into categories on a Circle or Venn diagram. Picture cards should be cut apart, identified and placed in the appropriate group within the webbing activity.
Journal Writing: Lesson 30
The purposes of journal writing are:
- record personal thoughts
- write memories, thoughts and feelings of events
- log experiences and preferences
- improve writing skills
Each month there are four writing prompts. The first writing prompt will be a class journal writing. The other prompts will either be supported or independent writing. Journal entries can be dated and kept in a binder to follow growth. Students can fill in the template with words or pictures, or they may write independently. Journal entries may be shared orally.
Writing lessons can be printed for a worksheet format or opened in an interactive online format.
The interactive format provides several methods to complete a writing activity, including drag and drop, choice interaction and the text type tool.
Math tasks may be interspersed in a variety of classroom activities. It is important to recognize opportunities for counting, adding and subtracting within the context of real-world situations. The math activities in each unit are built on these real-world scenarios. Random counting or number identification does not lend to daily application as do activities that appear to serve a purpose. Sample scenarios are provided within the unit, however, teachers should create similar scenarios to provide daily practice in math skills.
Number Sense: Lesson 19
Many of the lesson plans suggest ways that real objects can be used to support math processes. Math skill levels will vary significantly among students in a classroom. The same activity format can easily be adjusted to accommodate different learning needs (some students may be counting, some may be adding single digits, some may be using a calculator to subtract double digits with regrouping, etc.) Teachers should make the adjustments based on present skill levels and goals for each student.
Dynamic Math - Unlimited Math Problems!
Dynamic Math is an interactive feature providing an expansive collection of math problems to practice identified mathematics skills. Students have a multitude of practice problems in the areas of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division with the Dynamic Math feature. Dynamic Math is located after the four pages of premade problems for each skill in the Number Sence Lessons, and can easily be recognized by the green refresh button at the top of the page. Learn More about Dynamic Math
Graphing: Lesson 20
Charting and graphing information can involve a variety of activities: asking and answering questions, counting and problem-solving analysis. Charting and graphing can be incorporated into activities where students indicate their favorites or preferences. When the students’ responses are placed on a graph or chart, results can be analyzed to answer questions.
Measure It: Lesson 21
Crafts are frequently provided within unit activities. These provide real-world application of skills. Students may engage in skills for direction following and use of measurement tools. Crafts do not need to be “once only” activities. One day of instruction might include planning–what materials do we need? Where will we get these materials? Another day might focus on sequencing the directions to be completed. After making the craft, report on what was completed. A list of items needed to complete the craft can be located in the document, “Supply List,” which can be found in the Monthly Lessons > Monthly Tools > Supply Lists.
Money: Lesson 22
Money-related activities are built into units within the context of real-world scenarios. Individual abilities must be considered in all money-related activities. Some students may only be able to match coins for a given amount, while others may be able to make change. Across all grade band units, the teacher will be provided with scenario activities but should adjust the goals for the individual student. Suggestions for coin/bill recognition, identifying money values and counting coins and bills are provided in the lesson plan to accommodate these learning differences.
Telling Time: Lesson 23
At the Elementary level, time activities are provided for the hour and half hour. This should be selected or adjusted based on the skill level of the student. Creating related scenarios based on the student’s activities is an excellent means to continue time skills within the context of the daily living routine.
Geometry/Spatial Sense: Lesson 24
Simple geometry concepts are presented in this lesson to facilitate sorting objects by like shapes or attributes and identifying spatial locations.
Algebra/Patterns: Lesson 25
Elementary algebra concepts are presented in this lesson by completing and expanding a patterned activity. Objects are presented in a worksheet format, but may be cut apart to make pictures that can be manipulated or recreated into additional problems.
Unique Learning System provides a Mathematics Guide to support educators with the monthly math lessons. The Mathematics Guide gives direction on incorporating students into standards-based math activities at any level of learning. The guide is located in the Teacher ReferenceMaterials > Instructional Guides: Mathematics Guide.
The Number Journal
The number journal is available within Unique Learning System's January lessons. The interactive number journal activity is included in all Number Sense, Math Story, and Algebra lessons, for grade Preschool through High School. It is an interactive companion to the Mathematics Guide designed to help students achieve their differentiated task expectations virtually, assist in working out problems or create additional practice problems on specific math skills.
The Mathematics Guide is located in the Teacher Reference Materials > Instructional Guides. To access the interactive math journal, launch the interactive document for the monthly lesson by clicking on the orange icon next to the lesson number. Click the Number Journal icon in the top-right to open the interactive activity.
The number journal opens in a different tab, allowing your student to practice math skills simultaneously with a monthly math lesson.
Content-related activities provide an extension to learn more about the science or social studies information. These activities are generally real-world or life skills activities. Many of these activities will also involve a literature book that relates to the content of the unit.
Direction Following: Lesson 26
Recipes are frequently provided within unit activities. These provide real-world application of skills. Students may engage in skills for direction following and use of measurement tools. Recipes do not need to be “once only” activities. One day of instruction might include planning–what items do we need? Where will we get these items? Another day might focus on sequencing the directions to be completed. After making the recipe, report on what was done/completed. At the end of each recipe is a review form. This is a great way to culminate and reflect on the cooking experience.
Related Content: Lesson 27
Related Content lessons focus on participation and cooperation in group settings. They help develop citizenship traits such as respect for others, pride in self and good choice making. They often include activities that encourage competition and game playing.
Science Experiment: Lesson 28
A simple science experiment related to the unit topic is included with each unit. These experiments are arranged with a “make a guess” hypothesis and allow for observation of results. To support the scientific process, utilize the document, “Scientific Inquiry Processes,” which can be found in the Teacher Reference Materials > Instructional Tools: Scientific Inquiry Processes.
History Timeline: Lesson 29
At the Elementary level, timelines are simple sequencing of days, hours or basic events. These serve as an early sequencing tool that will build into historical event timelines in older grade bands.