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Instructional Unit Samples - 1st Grade

Over the fall/winter of 2013-14, the content specialists in the Standards and Instructional Support office worked with educators across the state of Colorado to build instructional units based on select curriculum overview samples. Teams of teachers authored units for each grade and content area of the Colorado Academic Standards.

Below, are sample instructional units for 1st grade mathematics, reading, writing, and communicating, science, social studies, comprehensive health, visual arts, drama/theatre, dance, and music. The units include learning experiences, teacher and student resources, assessment ideas, and differentiation options.

As examples, these units are intended to provide support for teachers, schools, and districts as they make their own local decisions around the best instructional plans and practices for all students. Click here to view additional 1st grade curriculum overview samples and write your own instructional units using the Colorado based template.


Comprehensive Health

Unit Title: Express Myself (Canon City School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit uses listening skills and appropriate expression of emotions to help students develop their understanding of healthy and positive communication skills and problem solving strategies.  Through the examination of both verbal and non-verbal communication and examples of polite and empathetic responses, students will actively explore various forms of communication.  The unit culminates with students creating a poster project that depicts a problem and solution using problem solving strategies they have learned though out the unit.  The ongoing learning experiences center around role-playing as a means to scaffold and equip students with lifelong skills.




Unit Title: Explore Our Environments Through Movement (Colorado Ballet, Douglas County School District, Greeley School District, Peak Academy of Dance, and St. Mary’s Academy)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: In this unit students will explore cultural environments and choose a favorite cultural dance style. Students will use their understanding of the various cultural dance patterns, styles, shapes and rhythms to combine movement phrases into a pattern in small groups.  The unit culminates in a final dance performance in which students rehearse and perform their dances for their parents. Students will end the unit by sharing positive peer feedback on a favorite dance move that classmates performed.



Drama and Theatre Arts

Unit Title: Create and Perform an Environment 

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit explores the ways that human and animal characters reflect and construct their environments. As students work through the unit, they will explore the ways in which actors use movement, body language, and verbal communication within unique contexts to convey particular characters’ perspectives and relationships with other characters. The unit asks students to use what they know about animals and their environments to explore further the ways in which actors use context and physical structure (i.e., body types, sizes, etc.) in creating characters.  The unit builds to a culminating performance assessment that asks students to create and perform an-animal based folktale, in this case a Tibetan folktale entitled, The Elephant Pit, for an audience of their peers.




Unit Title: Keeping Track (Meeker School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit focuses on measurement in relation to length and time.  Across the 4-week unit, students will consider the concepts of unit, zero, conservation and transitivity. Throughout the entire unit learning experiences are designed to ensure students are measuring for a purpose.  Students begin by making indirect comparisons about length (transitivity) using non-standard units.  The concept of comparison leads to students to discuss the need for standard units, which connects, to the concept of time and the unit of an hour.  Students continue their work with units of length by repeating (iterating) a standard unit without gaps or overlaps.  All of this work provides a foundation for working with a ruler.




Unit Title: Music Tells a Story (Denver Public School District and Metro State University of Denver)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit is an exploration of music--singing, playing, and moving--through the storytelling process. Each student will get an opportunity to engage with understanding the mood and emotions related to a story and how musical sounds can be used to demonstrate mood and emotions. Across the unit, students will experiment with and perform musical representations of developmentally appropriate children’s stories. The unit culminates in asking the students to become a musical author and share musical stories in a final performance. 


Unit Title: Be a Singing Star (Pueblo County School District, Poudre School District, Thompson School District, and Metro State University of Denver)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: Across the unit’s duration, students will create a jingle demonstrating their understanding of how to produce various vocal tone colors in their head and chest voice. Students will understand that vocal tone colors convey expression through singing, speaking, whispering, and shouting using their head and chest voice. Students will learn how a singer produces sound determines vocal tone color. Once students explore various performance and production options the unit culminates in the creation of a short jingle and critique process using a self and peer evaluation scoring rubric.



Physical Education

Unit Title: Moving Objects (East Grand School District, Steamboat Springs School District, and West Grand School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit allows students to experience manipulation of a variety of objects. (e.g. balls, hoops, scarves, beanbags). The focus is on discovering the relationship between force, speed, and effort as it relates to tossing, catching, kicking, dribbling, striking, and safety practices. This unit culminates with peer groups using their understandings of key skills (e.g. tossing, kicking…) and concepts (e.g. force, speed..) to design and perform cooperative activities at stations.



Reading, Writing, and Communicating

Unit Title: Transformations Around Me (Plainview School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit centers around the attributes of physical communities and the adaptations that people make in order to be successful in particular environments. During the 6-8 weeks of the unit, students will examine their own physical community. They will respond to text and images and construct short written pieces for different purposes/audiences (including letters to pen pals, newspaper “articles,” etc.) documenting changes that occur and adaptations people make across seasons. The learning experiences build to a performance assessment that asks students to write (and create videos) about an adaptation, in the form of a favorite activity, they make in a particular season.




Unit Title: Organisms and Offspring (Woodland Park School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit focuses on the offspring of organisms, variations and similarities within those offspring, and patterns of inheritance. Beginning with characteristics of living and nonliving things, across the unit students investigate seeds and plants, animals and offspring, characteristics of animals, and patterns of inheritance.  The unit culminates in a performance assessment that asks students to reunite animals babies that have been separated from their parents based on patterns of inheritance.



Social Studies

Unit Title: The Choices I Make (Denver Public Schools, Jefferson County School District, and Poudre School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF) | Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: Unit Description: In this unit, students will be exploring choices (e.g., financial, occupational, personal) and how their choices positively and/or negatively affect self and others.  During their exploration, students will investigate various roles and responsibilities that are related to the community and how their roles and responsibilities are a result of the choices they make.  Students will also examine how responsible citizens contribute to their community.  The unit culminates with student groups identifying a need in the community and then creating a proposal designed to address the need.

Unit Title: Change Happens (Park County School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit focuses on change as a defining and natural feature of the human experience. Using family as the organizing structure, students will consider how time and events alter roles and responsibilities and they will identify the ways in which humans adapt to their environment and changes in the environment.  During the 4-6 weeks of the unit, students will use their own family (historically and in present day) to understand change as a constant factor in people’s lives. They will respond to texts and images and construct short written pieces documenting family changes and adaptations. The learning experiences build to a performance assessment that asks students to construct a guidebook for younger peers to help them navigate the changes that life brings.



Visual Arts

Unit Title: Passports (Denver Public School District and Colorado State University)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: In this unit the students are introduced to the approaches artists use for inspiration and how they organize their ideas to aid in the creation of art work. Specifically, students will investigate concept mapping as they explore subject matter across cultures—both historical and contemporary. Across the unit, students will explore the creative process and the roles of inspiration and structure play in helping artists develop, capture and achieve their artistic goals/vision. The unit culminates with a performance assessment that asks students to consider their families and/or communities as sources of inspiration for the creation of a series of art works about their lives/experiences.


For content specific questions, please contact the appropriate content specialist listed here.