Speaking and Listening: Playing Together | EL Education Curriculum

You are here:

These are the CCS Standards addressed in this lesson:

  • W.K.2: Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose informative/explanatory texts in which they name what they are writing about and supply some information about the topic.
  • SL.K.1: Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about kindergarten topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.
  • SL.K.1a: Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., listening to others and taking turns speaking about the topics and texts under discussion).
  • SL.K.1b: Continue a conversation through multiple exchanges.

Daily Learning Targets

  • I can participate in conversations with my classmates. (SL.K.1)
  • I can draw a picture to show how to make playing together fun. (W.K.2)

Ongoing Assessment

  • During Close Read-aloud Session 1 in Work Time A, monitor students' progress towards RL.K.1 and RL.K.3.

  • During Work Time B and Closing, circulate and observe students' interactions as they engage in conversations with one another. Consider using the Speaking and Listening Checklist to assess students' progress toward SL.K.1.
  • Collect students' Making Playing Together Fun response sheets from Work Time C to gather initial evidence on what they already know about playing, as well as evidence on W.K.2 to help inform instruction in subsequent lessons.


AgendaTeaching Notes

1. Opening

A. Reading Aloud: Letter from the Principal (10 minutes)

2. Work Time

A. Introducing Learning Targets: "The Magic Bow" (5 minutes)

B. Structured Discussion: What Can We Do to Make Playing Together Fun? (15 minutes)

C. Independent Writing: What Can We Do to Make Playing Together Fun? (20 minutes)

3. Closing and Assessment

A. Reflecting on Learning (10 minutes)

Purpose of the lesson and alignment to standards:

  • This lesson introduces the topic of the module through a letter from the school principal. Inform the school principal of the letter and its purpose in advance. Consider asking the principal to handwrite or sign the letter and deliver it to the class.
  • In this lesson, students begin to build a variety of routines used throughout the lessons in this module and subsequent modules. These include the Think-Pair-Share protocol, accompanying Norms for Classroom Discussions, and a story and activity about learning targets.
  • Opening A introduces the Toys and Play Word Wall. In this first Word Wall lesson, the content vocabulary from the Letter from the Principal will be added to the wall. Word Walls feature words that hold weight across the module. They are domain-specific words or academic words that will be used to build content knowledge and during speaking and writing activities throughout the module. Refer to the Unit 1 Overview for a list of the Word Wall words for Unit 1.
  • This lesson introduces students to the concept that people can show their thoughts and ideas through drawing. This lesson assumes that students have had practice using pencils and paper; however, if this is not the case, build in time for modeling how to use these materials.

How this lesson builds on previous work:

  • This is the first lesson of the unit, so it sets the foundation for future lessons.
  • Consider how this lesson might build on instructional routines already introduced to students. Examples: learning targets, drawing to communicate ideas, transitions, where to sit, what to do when they want to talk to the teacher, use of materials. Modify as necessary based on what students have experienced during the first few weeks of kindergarten.

Looking ahead to future lessons:

  • Throughout the module, students will practice the Think-Pair-Share protocol, as well as the Discussion Norms using the anchor charts provided in this lesson's supporting materials.
  • Students will also hone their ability to draw illustrations to represent their ideas and eventually begin to add words to accompany their drawings.
  • Students will continue to develop their response to the Unit 1 guiding question ("How can we make playing together fun?") as they engage in close read-aloud sessions of Llama Llama Time to Share, experience play with classroom materials, and hold classroom conversations related to these experiences.

In Advance

  • Prepare:
    • A location for whole group gathering (e.g., a large rug or floor area). Most lessons in the module will require space for whole group gatherings. Making this an inviting area in your classroom, with a rug or warm lighting, can help students develop a sense of comfort and belonging.
    • A chart with the "Learning Target" poem. This is part of the "Learning Target" story, but the poem should be written on a separate chart and posted in the same area as the learning targets.
    • A large wall space for the Toys and Play Word Wall. Words and visuals will be added to this Word Wall throughout the module. Make sure students can easily access the Word Wall, as they will need the words during conversations and writing. Set up a document camera to read the Letter from the Principal and to show the recording form students will use later in the lesson.
    • Toys and Play Word Wall cards for the words "toys" and "play." Write or type the words in large print on a card and create or find a visual to accompany each word.
    • Think-Pair-Share anchor chart.
  • Gather pencils and the Making Playing Together Fun response sheet at students' workspaces. This will help to ensure a smooth transition during Work Time C.
  • Set up a document camera to display the Letter from the Principal and other documents throughout the lesson (optional).
  • Personalize the Letter from the Principal by adding in the principal's name.
  • Review the Think-Pair-Share protocol (see Classroom Protocols).
    • Be aware that partnering with the opposite gender during the Think-Pair-Share protocol may be uncomfortable and inappropriate for some students. If necessary, seek alternative arrangements for these students according to their cultural traditions.
  • Determine student conversation partners for the Think-Pair-Share protocol. Consider creating a Conversation Partner chart for students to refer to during the lesson (a large chart with students' names and/or photos designating their partner and which is partner A and which is partner B).
  • Post: Learning targets, module guiding question, "Learning Target" poem, Think-Pair-Share anchor chart.

Tech and Multimedia

Consider using an interactive whiteboard or document camera to display lesson materials.

  • Opening A: Create the Word Wall in an online format like Padlet to share vocabulary words with families.
  • Work Time A: The Letter from the Principal could be an email.
  • Work Time B: Create the Think-Pair-Share anchor chart in an online format, for example a Google Doc, to display.
  • Work Time B: Record students as they have their conversations to listen to with students later to discuss strengths and what they could improve on, or to use as models for the group. Most devices (cell phones, tablets, laptop computers) come equipped with free audio recording apps or software.

Supporting English Language Learners

Supports guided in part by CA ELD Standards K.I.A.1, K.I.B.5, and K.I.C.10

Important points in the lesson itself

  • The basic design of this lesson supports ELLs by providing visual cues for their instruction and allowing students to use drawing to support comprehension of the lesson's content.
  • This lesson may be challenging for some students because it contains a lot of listening and discussion on the rug with limited visual support. Example: There are two read-alouds, the Letter from the Principal and "The Magic Bow", neither of which are illustrated. "The Magic Bow," in particular, uses phrases whose meanings may be difficult to decipher. Example: "people came from far and wide," and "take up the bow." To support ELLs, take the time to stop and clarify the meanings of potentially difficult words and phrases. Introduce the story and check for comprehension during and after the reading. Consider acting out parts of the story. Whenever possible, use visuals and hand gestures throughout the lesson to make some of the more abstract ideas concrete.

Levels of support

For lighter support:

  • During Work Time A, challenge advanced and intermediate proficiency students to create hand gestures to help the class remember the words participate and conversation.

For heavier support:

  • During Work Time C, allow students to work with a partner of a more advanced proficiency level. The partner with greater proficiency can serve as a mentor as they complete their work.
  • The Think-Pair-Share protocol will need to be practiced and retaught several times before it becomes routine. To reinforce the protocol, identify a pair of students who are demonstrating effective conversation. Commend them and invite them to model the protocol in front of the class.

Universal Design for Learning

  • Multiple Means of Representation (MMR): During this lesson, students review the Think-Pair-Share protocol. Some students may need additional visual cues for each step of this protocol. Consider printing and displaying photographs of students demonstrating each step of the protocol.
  • Multiple Means of Action & Expression (MMAE): Students will have a range of fine motor abilities and writing needs. As you introduce independent writing, vary methods for fine motor responses by offering options for drawing utensils, writing tools, and scaffolds.
  • Multiple Means of Engagement (MME): In this lesson, students are introduced to the unit topic: toys and play. Students may be very excited about studying this topic and may need support knowing how to express this feeling. Facilitate personal coping and self-regulation skills by modeling socially appropriate ways to express enthusiasm in kindergarten.


Key: Lesson-Specific Vocabulary (L); Text-Specific Vocabulary (T)


  • conversation, experts, participate, play, toys (L)


  • Letter from the Principal (one to display)
  • Document camera (optional)
  • Toys and Play Word Wall
  • Word Wall cards and pictures for "play" and "toy" (teacher-created; see Teaching Notes)
  • "The Magic Bow" (one to display; for teacher read-aloud)
  • "Learning Target" poem (written on chart paper; one to display)
  • Think-Pair-Share anchor chart (new; teacher-created; see supporting materials)
  • Module guiding question (one to display)
  • Conversation Partner chart (new; teacher-created; see Teaching Notes and supporting materials)
  • Speaking and Listening Checklist (see Assessment Overview and Resources for Module 1)
  • Making Playing Together Fun response sheet (one per student and one to display)

Materials from Previous Lessons

New Materials


Each unit in the K-2 Language Arts Curriculum has one standards-based assessment built in. The module concludes with a performance task at the end of Unit 3 to synthesize their understanding of what they accomplished through supported, standards-based writing.


OpeningMeeting Students' Needs

A. Reading Aloud: Letter from the Principal (10 minutes)

  • Gather students whole group.
  • Briefly explain that the class has received a special letter from a very special person. Students will read it, talk about it, and act out parts of it to make sure they understand the letter very well.
  • Display the Letter from the Principal using the document camera. Read it aloud once without interruption.
  • Ask:

"Who wrote the letter?" (the principal)

  • Ask students to put a thumb in front of their chest if they know who wrote it.
  • Invite a student with a thumb up to share his or her thinking. If necessary, guide students to understand that the school principal wrote the letter.
  • Tell students that they will now reread a few parts of the letter to make sure they really understand it.
  • Reread the third sentence aloud.
  • Ask:

"What does the principal tell us (his/her) job is?" (help us to stay safe, learn, and have fun)

  • Again, ask students to put a thumb up if they have one idea.
  • Invite a student with a thumb up to share his or her thinking. As students say, "help us to stay safe, learn, and have fun," underline those words on the displayed letter.
  • Reread the fourth sentence aloud.
  • Ask:

"What are some of the fun things we have already done in kindergarten this year?" (read books, played on the playground, played in the classroom, sung songs)

  • Invite a few students to share out.
  • Reread the first sentence of the third paragraph aloud and emphasize the word experts. Explain that an expert is someone who knows a lot about something. Experts fill their brain with so much information by reading, talking to others, and most importantly, doing a lot of what they are learning about.
  • Tell students that they will have to play a lot to become play experts!
  • Define the word play. Say:"When we play, we do an activity that is fun."
  • Ask:

"Does anybody know how to say play in the language you speak at home?" (wan in Chinese)

  • Call on volunteers to share. Ask other students to choose one translation to silently repeat. Invite them to say their chosen translation out loud when you give the signal. Chorally repeat the translations and the word in English.
  • Explain that there is a special place in the room where the class is going to collect important words to use when they are speaking and writing. This special place is the Toys and Play Word Wall.
  • Place the Word Wall card and picture for play on the Toys and Play Word Wall.
  • Reread the next sentence and emphasize the word toys.
  • Ask students to think to themselves:

"What toy do you like to play with the most? Can you close your eyes and imagine yourself playing with that toy?"

  • Say: "I like to play with a soccer ball. When I close my eyes, I see myself kicking the ball."
  • Stand up and act out kicking a soccer ball quietly and safely.
  • Tell students that when you invite them to do so, they should stand up quickly and quietly. When you count to three, they should pretend to play with their favorite toy. Remind students they should stay in their own space as they pretend.
  • Invite students to stand up, wait for the count, and then pretend to play.
  • After 30 seconds, signal students to sit quietly back in their personal space.
  • Say: "Now we are going to whisper-share the name of the toy we pretended to play with. Watch me as I whisper-share."
  • Sit down beside a student and whisper "soccer ball" in the student's ear.
  • Invite all students to whisper-share to an elbow partner the name of the toy they pretended to play with.
  • Define the word toy. Say: "A toy is something we play with."
  • Place the Word Wall card and picture for toy on the Toys and Play Word Wall.
  • Tell students that many of us like to play with different kinds of toys, so that is also something else we will learn about. Say: "We will have so much fun becoming play experts!"
  • Tell students to give a thumbs-up when they are ready to start learning.
  • For ELLs: Some students may not understand who the school principal is. For context, display a picture of the school principal or refer to one of his or her recognizable routines during the day. Example: "Mrs. Tompkins is the woman who says goodbye to you right before you go home."
  • For ELLs: Give a visual preview of the unit. Display pictures of some of the different kinds of toys students will learn about during the unit.
  • Before reading the Letter from the Principal, activate background knowledge by inviting students to consider who wrote the letter as they listen. Example: "As I am reading this special letter, listen for clues to see if you can figure out who wrote the letter. What do you think that person's job is?" (MMR)
  • After reading the Letter from the Principal and showing a picture of the principal, optimize relevance by contextualizing information for students with prompts. Example: "Give a thumbs-up if you have seen our principal before." (MME)

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Introducing Learning Targets: "The Magic Bow" (5 minutes)

  • Explain that you have a fun story that will help students prepare for their learning. It is called "The Magic Bow."
  • Display a copy of the story using the document camera and read it aloud.
  • Tell students that they will learn and do a lot of amazing things this year, and sometimes it will help to think of this story about learning new things.
  • Tell students that the class will learn about toys and play. To take their first step in learning to do this amazing thing, they will start with their first learning target.
  • Direct students' attention to the posted learning targets and read the first one aloud:

"I can participate in conversations with my classmates."

  • Point out the word participate and explain that to participate means to take part in a group activity; everyone takes a turn.
  • Point out the word conversation and explain that when you have a conversation, you talk to others. Explain that "participating in a conversation" means everyone gets a turn to talk and listens to others when they talk.
  • After students have a general understanding of the learning target, invite them to take out their imaginary magic bows and take aim at the target.
  • Direct students' attention to the posted "Learning Target" poem. Recite the poem from the story to students.
  • For ELLs: Without visual support, students may find the language in "The Magic Bow" to be challenging. Display a picture of a bow and arrow before reading the story. Model pretending to use a bow and arrow to shoot at things around the room. After reading the story, check for comprehension. Ask students to describe what happened first, next, and last in the story. (MMR)
  • For ELLs: It is possible students may have experience with the bow and arrow as a weapon. Explain that some people do use a bow and arrow to hunt animals for food, but the class is using it for target practice.
  • For ELLs: Consider using hand gestures to illustrate the concepts participate and conversation. Example: Move finger in a circle to indicate participate and move hand back and forth, toward and away from your mouth, to indicate conversation. (MMAE)
  • As you read the learning target, highlight critical features by displaying photographs of what it looks like and sounds like to participate in a conversation. Ask students to observe the photos and summarize these critical features. (MMR)
  • As you read the "Learning Target" poem, vary methods for response by inviting students to join you in movements for particular phrases. Examples: "think of the thing," "in your heart," "keep your eyes," "take your aim." (MMAE)
  • As you tell students that the class will learn about toys and play, facilitate personal coping and self-regulation skills by modeling socially appropriate ways to express enthusiasm about studying these topics. Examples: silent cheer, give yourself a hug, take a deep breath and smile. (MME)

B. Structured Discussion: What Can We Do to Make Playing Together Fun? (15 minutes)

  • Tell students that today they will practice participating in a conversation, or taking turns talking, with a partner.
  • Explain that throughout the year, they will be learning from each other, and one great way to learn from each other is to share their thinking in pairs. This is called Think-Pair-Share.
  • Direct students' attention to the Think-Pair-Share anchor chart and review the Think-Pair-Share protocol as follows.
  • Point to the image of the person thinking. Explain that you will give them an idea to think about or a question to answer, and they should take some time to think. Have students point to their brains to indicate thinking.
  • Point to the image of the two people facing each other. Explain that once the group has had thinking time, you will let them know that they can turn to each other and begin sharing their ideas.
  • Point again to the image of the two people facing each other. Ask: "What do you notice about the two people here?"
  • Invite a few students to share their thinking. Reiterate that there is a partner A and a partner B. Sometimes partner A will talk first, and sometimes partner B will talk first.
  • Say: "When you are not talking, your job is to listen to what your partner is saying." Have students cup their ears to indicate listening.
  • Point to the image of the students making a bridge with their arms. Explain that once partner A and partner B have both shared their thinking, they should safely make a bridge with their arms to show they are done talking and listening.
  • Model briefly what this should look like with a student volunteer (or another adult):
    • Assign yourself as partner A and the volunteer as partner B.
    • Think: "What toy did you imagine playing with?"
    • Pair: Teacher and volunteer face each other.
    • Share: Share what toy you imagined and then invite the volunteer to share.
  • Tell students that it is their turn to practice participating in a discussion with a partner.
  • Direct their attention to the posted module guiding question. Read it aloud slowly.
  • Tell students that since they are going to become play experts, it is important for them to learn about how to make playing fun.
  • Explain that this is the question they will talk about with their partner.
  • Referring to the Conversation Partner chart, invite students to buddy up with their predetermined talking buddy and sit facing one another. Make sure students know which partner is A and which is B.
  • Repeat the module guiding question and remind students that their job right now is to think about what we can do to make playing together fun.
  • Invite partner A to begin sharing with partner B.
  • As students talk, circulate and listen in. Take note of the ideas they are sharing and target a few students to share out with the whole group later in the lesson.
  • Take note of how students are interacting with one another using the Speaking and Listening Checklist.
  • Remind students to make a bridge with their arms after both partners have shared.
  • Gather students back together and invite a few to share with the whole group.
  • Give students specific positive feedback on their hard work today. Example: "You all worked hard to participate in conversations with your classmates about how we can make playing together fun."
  • For ELLs: Sing the "Talk and Listen" song and tell students they will learn it in the next lesson.
  • For ELLs: Not all students may be comfortable or familiar with speaking in a free or unstructured way with other students during class. Assure students that speaking with one another is an important part of learning and that they will soon know the rules for when it is time to speak and when it is time to listen. (MME)
  • For ELLs: Pair students with a partner who has more advanced or native language proficiency. The partner with greater language proficiency can serve as a model in the pair, initiating discussions and guiding the Think-Pair-Share process. If partners work well together, consider using the same mixed proficiency partnerships throughout the unit. (MMAE)
  • As you prepare the Think-Pair-Share anchor chart, customize the display of information for students by including photographs of students modeling each step of the protocol. (MMR)
  • After you and the volunteer student model how to Think-Pair-Share, enhance capacity for self-monitoring by asking explicit reflection questions. Example: "What did it look like to Think-Pair-Share? What did it sound like?" (MMAE)
  • If students need additional support remembering their partner designation, consider giving them an index card with an A or a B. (Numbers or colors could also be used.) (MMR)

C. Independent Writing: What Can We Do to Make Playing Together Fun? (20 minutes)

  • Invite a few preselected students to share out their ideas with the whole group using the sentence frame: "One thing that makes playing together fun is _________." (sharing, having lots of toys, etc.)
  • Explain that not only will students talk about their great ideas with one another, but sometimes they will also write and draw about them.
  • Tell students that they will now draw a picture that shows their idea for how to make playing together fun.
  • Redirect their attention to the posted learning targets and read the second one aloud:

"I can draw a picture to show how to make playing together fun."

  • Invite students to take out their imaginary magic bows and take aim at the learning target.
  • Distribute and display the Making Playing Together Fun response sheet on a document camera and tell students that they will use this paper to draw their ideas.
  • Invite students to watch as you show them how thinkers turn their ideas into pictures.
  • Model thinking of an idea and drawing it on the response sheet for students:

1. Think aloud about what to draw. Say:

"One thing that I think will make playing together fun is taking turns. We need to take turns with our toys so people have a chance to play. I think I could show that in a picture by drawing my hand giving another person a toy. I think I will draw play dough as my toy because I know we will play with play dough in our classroom."

2. Think aloud about how to draw. Say:

"Taking turns feels challenging to draw, so I am going to show two hands with a toy in their hand. That shows that we both had a turn."

3. Model drawing using a pencil: Say:

"I can look at my hand to get an idea of how to draw it. I will put five fingers on my hand. I want to draw a ball, too, to show the play dough. Then I will draw another hand on the page. That's my friend's hand. I will give my friend the play dough once I've had my turn. I think I will draw a ball of play dough in my friend's hand, too, to show that we both had a turn."

  • Tell students that just like you did, the first thing they will do is think about what they want to draw. Invite them to think about an idea and explain that it may be the one they shared with a partner, an idea they heard their partner say, or an idea that a classmate shared aloud.
  • Ask students to quietly think about their idea and then put a thumb on their knee when they have an idea.
  • Once all students have a thumb on their knee, tell them they will practice the Think-Pair-Share protocol again. Invite them to share their idea with their conversation partner using the sentence frame: "One thing that makes playing together fun is __________."
  • Ask students to go to their workspaces and draw a picture. Explain that their pencils and papers are already at their workspaces.
  • Dismiss students by workspace groups and provide reminders about safe and courteous transitions as necessary.
  • As students draw, circulate and provide support as needed.
  • If students are stuck, ask them to share their idea with you. Help them problem-solve by discussing how they might show their idea with a simple picture. Conversely, if a student finishes quickly, ask him or her to think about details to add to the picture.
  • Give students frequent time reminders and encouragement as they draw.
  • For ELLs: After brainstorming and partner-sharing writing ideas, ask two or three students to share their ideas with the whole class. Write the ideas on the board with thumbnail illustrations. Explain that students can choose to illustrate one of those options or write about their own ideas. (MMR)
  • Before students begin independent writing, foster community by discussing how to ask peers and teachers for help. Example: "While you are writing, you might get stuck trying to come up with an idea to draw. What can you do if you need help?" (raise your hand; quietly ask a peer) (MME)
  • As students begin independent writing, consider alternative drawing/writing utensils to vary methods for fine motor response. Examples: fine-tipped markers vs. pencils, a name stamper or pre-printed name stickers, pre-printed images that students can select to glue down. (MMAE)

Closing & Assessments

ClosingMeeting Students' Needs

A. Reflecting on Learning (10 minutes)

  • Invite students to transition back to whole group by workspaces, bringing their drawing with them.
  • Ask students to stand beside their conversation partner.
  • Tell them that they will now share their drawing with their conversation partner using the Think-Pair-Share protocol.
  • Briefly model what students might say when they share. Say: "I drew two hands with play dough. This shows that we can make playing together fun by taking turns."
  • Tell students that partner B should go first this time. Remind them to make a bridge with their arms to signal they have finished sharing.
  • Invite students to begin sharing their drawings.
  • Listen in as they share, taking note of their progress toward the discussion norms.
  • Give students specific positive feedback on their hard work. Tell them that they will have a chance learn more about playing together when they read a book and play in the next lesson.
  • For ELLs: Beginning students may have trouble verbalizing their work. Help them identify key elements of their illustration and allow them to repeat words and phrases. Example: If a student draws two hands with play dough, say: "We can make it fun to play together by taking turns." Encourage the student to repeat one word or phrase at a time.
  • Provide options for expression and communication by including sentence starters for sharing. Example: "One thing I drew was ____. This shows_____." (MMAE)

Get updates about our new K-5 curriculum as new materials and tools debut.

Sign Up