Title:  How are we alike and different?


Teacher: Mary McCormick


Grade level: 2


Time Needed: The entire unit plan takes 12 weeks.

                        This section of the unit will take 4 weeks.       


Social Studies Standards:   McRel standard 1.1 Knows the cultural similarities and 

                                         differences in clothing, food, communities, technology and

                                         cultural traditions between families now and in the past.


                                         McRel standard 2.1 Understands the daily life and values of

                                         early native American culture of some of the Northeastern,

                                         Southwestern and Plains tribes.


By comparing and contrasting the lives of the Native Peoples and the Pilgrims who lived at the same time (early 1600s) students gain a sense of themselves in comparison, while learning of each culture in past societies.



computer with internet access, art supplies; paint, crayons, markers and construction paper or plain white paper, tongue depressors,  chart paper, Venn Diagram, books; Tapenum’s Day, Wampanoag Indian Boy in Pilgrim Times, by Kate Waters; Our Strange New Land, Elizabeth’s Diary, by Patricia Hermes, and; If you Lived with the Iroquois by Ellen Levine.



Week 1: Read aloud Elizabeth’s Diary so that students can gain insight into the life of a young Pilgrim child. Compare and contrast details generated about Elizabeth’s life and their lives. The teacher writes on the chart paper as ideas are generated. Each student reads back his/her own contribution. Do this as part of a daily read aloud for about 40 minutes total (20 minutes reading and 20 minutes generating ideas). Students then illustrate, independently, 1 way that their life is similar to Elizabeth’s and 1 way in which their lives are dissimilar on construction paper folded “hamburger style” (vertically from left to right).


Week 2: Using multiple copies of Tapenum’s Day, break students into heterogeneous groups. To accommodate differentiation, assign students “jobs” according to their strengths. Some students will be the “reporters,” (orally stating what was read out loud by the announcer) others the “announcer” (reader) and others the “recorders,” (those writing information down). Each group will compile information to present to the class in an oral presentation, giving each student a chance to rehearse what he/she has learned, in the small groups about the day in the life of a Wampanoag boy, who lived in the same time period as Elizabeth, in Elizabeth’s Diary.


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Students from each group then present, orally, what they have learned from their group work.


Week 3:

Read aloud If You Lived with the Iroquois.  As a follow-up activity to all the books read so far, students will create paintings, to include an Iroquois longhouse, a Wampanoag wetu and a log type house for the Pilgrims to be labeled accordingly. Students will also write 1 sentence for each picture that tells about the dwelling created.  


Week 4: One group of students will take a virtual tour of Plimoth Plantation by visiting www.plimoth.org as part of center activities. The Native Peoples’ group will write facts about the Iroquois and the Wampanoag. The Pilgrim group will write facts about the Pilgrims, and another group will write about themselves. The Pilgrims, Native Peoples and the students will each be assigned a different colored index card so that when they are placed on the Venn diagram they are easily distinguished from each other. Students will write 1 fact on each card. Groups will rotate until all have had a chance to be in every group.


Students will join up to place cards with facts in a large Venn diagram comparing and contrasting Pilgrims and Native Peoples, then Pilgrims and the students themselves and finally Native Peoples and themselves. Students who place the cards in each part of the Venn diagram will need to explain why they placed each card in its place.




Proficient readers will serve as “announcers” in the small group activity, referred to in week 2. The proficient writers will be the “recorder” and the less proficient readers and writers will serve as the reporters.


Those students who are best able to express meaning through art (illustrations and paintings) will best be able to excel in this modality. Students who are best able to express themselves orally, will excel in the oral presentations part of each lesson.


Technology Link:

For students taking the virtual tour of Plimoth Plantation, use www.plimoth.org. For teacher resource information, this website has a host of information to use when planning activities with little known facts and newly discovered information.



Students will be assessed in week 1 by the oral answers they generate to the questions comparing and contrasting Elizabeth’s and their lives. Using student initials, label each sentence generated to refer back to for assessment purposes and to enable students to read back their own sentences. Comprehension of material read is demonstrated by students’ illustrations and sentence writing during the second activity of week 1.



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In week 2, students will be assessed by teacher observation of work in small groups and in oral presentations of work researched, in small groups.


In week 3, students will be assessed from the paintings created of each type of dwelling and the accompanying sentences.


In week 4, students will be assessed by the placement of their index card with the facts of Native Peoples, the Pilgrims and themselves, in the Venn diagram in addition to the explanation as to why the card is placed in the diagram.



Cross-Curricular Connection:

This social studies unit is integrated with language arts skills of reading, writing, speaking, and research, as well as technology and art skills.