Unit Openers:

Grade 5 - Unit 1
Cooperation and Competition


Unit Opener Powerpoints:

Realistic Fiction & Preview of Upcoming Stories - Powerpoint Presentation
by Melissa Lape - Wilson Elementary

What is Cooperation? and Examples - Powerpoint Presentation
from Harding Elementary

Unit Opener Resources:

Learning Menu for Students with unit objectives

by Kim Holmes

Unit Opener Ideas:

Create A Game Together
Submitted by:
Joanne Barret
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I had the students make up a learning game they made game boards and set up rules. Very successful. Some used add/sub or sight words so we delivered them to lower grades to use.


Working Together
Submitted by:
Kasey Mallekoote
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For this unit I split up my students into groups of five or six. I asked each group to form a circle. Then I directed each student to link wrists with two other students across the circle. Then when all the groups were ready I told them to try to untangle until the group was in a circle with no tangles. This taught cooperation in the group and competition with the other groups. We then had a class discussion about the activity. It was fun! :-)


Who Should Pick Teams?
Submitted by: Maria C. Silva
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I tell the students that we will be playing a game such as volleyball. I give no explicit instruction only that we will play and that they will decide what and how to play. After we go out and play about 15-20 minutes we come back to class and I do a hand off activity where students tell me what happened during the game. I am charting these responses and I lead them through categories such as how they felt, what went on, what they saw, heard, and they come up with a list of describing words/adjectives etc. I usually get things such as "Jon hogged the ball", "Marcos didn't let the girls hit”, or "I didn't get a turn".

The comments very but I chart it all. I must say thought hat they are usually more of a bad experience because they had no direction or they felt as if things were unfair or not fun. There is a lot of disagreement except when friends get to beat another team.

On the second day I tell them that we are going out to play the same game as the day before. This time however explain that I will be picking teams, explaining the rules, and I will be there to make sure everyone plays the game right so that they can learn to play it on their own later. When we are done playing the game we come in and I do the same hand off process and I chart these again. I usually get comments such as "I got to hit the ball", or "it was fun because it was fair" or "it wasn't all boys against girls", etc.

Finally, I say boys and girls we have to learn about cooperation and competition and I ask them to open their inquiry journal and complete the what do you know about cooperation and competition etc. page. We share aloud and then I continue with this unit opener. I then introduce the Concept Question Board and explain how we will be building and using this as a reference for our learning throughout the next few weeks. I explain what they can add and how they will proceed to add to it, with pictures, objects, vocabulary/words they have acquired while reading these stories. I also make sure I send home the home connection letter in the parent home language so that they are aware of what the child is doing in class.

This is not only a great unit opener especially for second language learners because they get an experience of cooperation and competition and they have a great advantage on the writing, which is the area that our students have a very difficult time producing.
I have used this method for several years now and compared to other teachers in my school, I had better results on the concept and question board use, student vocabulary and understanding of each story connecting it to the theme, and the most important to me their writing approach. This is a multi way to develop this unit and the get them an experience to prep for the persuasive writing piece they will do at the end of the unit.
Good luck


Sports Page
Submitted by:
Jose Soria
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For the unit opener, the teacher will need 15 sports pages from any local newspaper. Also, the teacher should provide students with scissors and pre-made cut outs of a trophy and athletic shoes for the concept question board. The students will work in partners to cut out pictures that demonstrate cooperation and competition. After students are finished, they will write a concept about cooperation and competition and a question using the trophy as a concept and athletic shoe as a question. Then they will place their newspaper clip on either the concept or question board.


What Fraction Am I?
Submitted by:
Jose Valencia
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Make 3X5 cards and write down a variety of fractions on one side. Tape a fraction to the back of students. Students are to ask others yes/no type of questions to arrive at their fraction. The objective it to cooperate amongst each other to see who can guess their fraction with the least amount of questions. Once they have guessed, they will place fractions in order on a number line accordingly. Great Ice Breaker for adults as well!


Iron Chef
Submitted by:
Joanne Cho
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Show students clips of Iron Chef while they take notes on a graphic organizer such as a T-Chart.


Juggle This!
Submitted by:
Denise Caywood
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1) Use preview skills to look through the unit ( this like a picture walk for younger learners) and we develop questions from titles and subtitles and list on large chart paper for answering later.

2) Handing off activity: I use a small (beanie baby frog) object to hand off to the speaking student while others listen. We brainstorm all we know about cooperation and competition and use our knowledge to compare and contrast both; after arriving at a conclusion of sometimes both are good and often competition can go too far and become hurtful - We focus on "teamwork" and cooperation.

Once we have established that were are becoming one "Team" and the class should work together, I include some team building ideas from Kagan - that cross the curriculum linking reading with the scientific process.

3) Tower Builders: architects are like scientists in that must think out of the box and test different variables to find what will work best.

  • We gather multiple pieces of construction paper in various shapes and sizes.
  • Students are divided in to groups of 4 and asked to work together to build the tallest free standing tower they can in 2 minutes
  • To win their tower must be measured and stay standing long enough to be measured. This emphasizes cooperation and and the underlying theme of friendly competition. It's great - the kids will request several chances to change variables ( like folding and tearing paper) the possibility of improving their tower. You can even lessen the construction time.
  • My rules are that they must not use glue, tape or scissors at any point!

Afterwards we revisit our question/concept board and discuss.

4) I use an activity with tennis balls, Also from Kagan.

  • I ask " Can anyone juggle" sometimes there is some one who actually can but then ask them to add additional balls - up to three; at this point allow them to partner.
  • We continue to add to the complexity by adding tennis balls and helpers until we have the entire class working together and using about 6 tennis balls or more( this is very difficult) at one time. ** Be sure they make eye contact or get the attention of their intended receiver. It becomes very challenging to not let the balls drop but the kids really get into and want to make it work. They will request chances to play again all year until!
  • Each time is a chance to revisit using teamwork/cooperation!

Discuss this idea


Scavenger Hunt
Submitted by:
Dionne Hemphill
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I created a scavenger hunt of notables in my classroom (quotes, book titles, authors, posters.)

I divided my students into pairs and set my timer. The students quickly realized they couldn't complete the hunt in the time that I allotted without helping each other. However, that posed a dilemma of helping the other team win.

When time was up, we discussed the results.


Cooperation Game
Submitted by:
Francie Kugleman
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Directions here.


Campaign Commercials
Submitted by:
Alice Mercer
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Campaign Commercials


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