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Instructional Unit Samples - 2nd 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 2nd 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 2nd grade curriculum overview samples and write your own instructional units using the Colorado based template.

Comprehensive Health

Unit Title: Be a “Buddy” not a “Bully” (West Grand School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description:  This unit uses friendship relationships to help students develop their understanding of healthy interpersonal relationships as well as unhealthy bullying relationships. Through the examination of effective communication skills (speaking and listening) and perspective-comprehension strategies, students will actively explore proactive anti bullying and empathy-building activities. The unit culminates with students creating (audience) interactive skits to share their perspective on bullying prevention. The ongoing learning experiences center around role-playing as a means to scaffold and prepare students for the creation of their own skits.




Unit Title: The Way West – The Oregon Trail: Theme and Variation Folk Dance (Colorado Ballet, Douglas County School District, St. Mary’s Academy, and Colorado Dance Education Association)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit explores the Oregon Trail era through its traditions of social dance, primarily the folk dance. Students will begin by studying folk dances and becoming familiar with the cultural influences within each dance style. Across the unit, students will learn various dance steps to create folk dances following the performance preparation process as an organizing structure for learning.  The unit culminates in a performance assessment that asks students to work collaboratively to prepare a final folk dance performance that includes historical presentations about the folk dance of that era.



Drama and Theatre Arts

Unit Title: Neighborhood Communities: “Who Are the People in Our Neighborhood” 

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit focuses on how collaboration within a community context affects individual responses, relationships and interrelationships. Using a central/anchor text throughout (e.g., Stone Soup), students will explore character-based decisions that help create scenes based upon a literary work with a specific focus on community interaction and interdependence. The learning experiences intentionally spiral; using the text to examine the importance of character (traits), setting, conflict and resolution in creating and performing a dramatic piece. The learning experiences build to a performance assessment that asks students to work collaboratively to perform a dramatic presentation of the anchor text to help their peers better understand the importance of community and the benefits of working together.




Unit Title: Are You Odd or Even? (Centennial School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit focuses on applications of addition and subtraction within 20 and within 100.  The students start off with solving word problems with the result unknown.  Students then move to word problems with start and change unknowns and develop an understanding of how to use a number line to solve addition and subtraction problems.  Students also connect picture and bar graphs to the concepts of addition and subtraction word problems.  The culmination of this unit introduces early multiplicative ideas such as skip counting, arrays, and odds/evens.




Unit Title: Stories Through Music (Boulder Valley School District, Thompson School District, and Metro State University of Denver) 

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit is an exploration of mood/setting/character in a story through music. Throughout the duration of the unit, students go from being the listener to the performer and creator of improvised sounds and movement through music. The students will experiment with using sounds to replicate/represent characters, emotions, conflict, etc. of literary works. The unit culminates in asking the students to become musical storytellers choosing musical sounds to represent the characters of a given story.


Unit Title: Musical Ecosystem (Pueblo School District, Jefferson County School District, Colorado Springs School District, and Metro State University of Denver) 

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit focuses on musical instrument families and vocal groupings in modern music. Students will research string, percussion, woodwind, and brass instruments as well as vocal sound groupings (soprano, alto, tenor, bass), learn musical instrument history and sounds, and explore the meaning of instrumental improvisation. Students will observe how movement creates sound and discover how instruments relate to the environment. This unit culminates in students using their understanding of the structural elements of instruments create and perform on a home-made musical instrument using the expression of musical elements.



Physical Education

Unit Title: Making Healthy Choices (East Grand School District, Denver Public Schools, and Hayden School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit allows students to develop critical thinking and reasoning skills in order to understand and apply the benefits of healthy habits as they pertain to nutrition, exercise, water intake and sleep habits. The unit culminates with students applying and defending healthy habit choices by participating in an activity where they analyze the value of nutrition, sleep, water and exercise choices. Students will correctly place each healthy choice (beanbag, picture, polyspot) in the corresponding category, (GO, SLOW, NO).  Students will defend choices to peers during a gallery walk.



Reading, Writing, and Communicating

Unit Title: Our World (Norwood School District and West End School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: In this 4-6 week unit, students will study an innovator or invention of their choice.  Through this process, students will read and analyze informational texts, including primary source documents such as inventors’ notebooks, to develop reading skills and to build knowledge on the topic of innovators and innovations.  After reading and writing about innovators, students will produce an innovator’s notebook in which they explain their own innovation in an informational text which includes diagrams, drawings, and written text.




Unit Title: Weather and Seasons (Rocky Ford School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit focuses on the effects of weather and seasons with respect to organisms and their environment, including seasons, normal weather patterns, severe weather, and catastrophic events.  Students will understand how survival is dependent upon changes in behavior and the environment. Beginning with tools to collect data on weather, across the unit students investigate weather and temperature, seasons, human and animal behavioral response to weather and seasons, and severe weather and catastrophic events.  The unit culminates in a performance assessment that asks students to take the role of a weather forecaster and report on local weather within a given season.



Social Studies

Unit Title: Who Has What? (Boulder Valley School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit focuses on the existence, use, and maintenance of both physical and man-made resources with community environments. Using the local community as the organizing structure, students will consider the ways in which resources impact the kinds of lifestyles/lives people experience within the community and how the nature of available resources had an impact on peoples’ decision to reside in their community. During the 3-4 weeks of the unit, students will explore various resources as well as compare the nature of their community against other communities with different resources. The learning experiences build to a performance assessment that asks students to construct a presentation that conveys the attributes they think could lead people to choose their community as a place to live.



Visual Arts

Unit Title: Reflecting on Community Experiences (Harrison School District, Roaring Fork School District, Pueblo City School District, and Colorado State University)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: In this unit the students will explore place, space, architecture, city planning and mapping through the experience of community. Student will begin by studying their surroundings and eventually consider how communities, as a whole, are planned and created. Planning and understanding art making as a process are common to each learning experience. Expressive features and characteristic of art, symbols, and mixing media are also key elements in the unit. The unit culminates in a performance assessment that asks students to work collaboratively to design and map out a new community.



Unit Title: Imagining Musical Stories (Poudre School District)

Focus Disciplines: Music + Reading, Writing, and Communicating

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF) | Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit is an integrated of Reading, Writing, and Communicating and Music.  It allows the educator and students to learn about and explore imagination through reading, writing, and communicating and music.  Students will work in small groups to create musical stories that will symbolize the both their culture and imagination.  The unit will culminate in a sharing of their stories in their classrooms.


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