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Song of the Swallows

Song of the Swallows

Author/Illustrator: Leo Politi
ISBN: 0684188317
Awards: The Caldecott Medal

Unit Designed by Ginger A.


This unit has been created for use in the 2nd grade. It can easily be adapted for use in grades pre-k – 3rd. The skills listed are commonly found on 2nd grade scope and sequence charts and 2nd grade curriculum guides.


Language Arts


1. Alphabetical Order

Review alphabetical order using an alphabet strip. Place the word cards in alphabetical order. The teacher may assist as needed with words that have the same beginning letters.

words to use for word cards



Saint Francis

Father Junipero Serra




los golondrinas



Pacific Ocean



buenas dias

buenas tardes


Verbal Expression

Demonstrate “reading with expression” to the student. Read aloud a paragraph using a monotone voice, reread with expression. Listen to the difference. Which is more interesting / entertaining?  Turn to page 1.Help the student to read, “Buenos dias, Julian. Good morning, Julian.”

Did the student read with appropriate expression? Practice this skill using other quotes in this book. Encourage the student to practice using appropriate verbal expression when reciting poetry and Bible verses.



Select the nouns cards from the word cards to use in this part of the lesson.

Define concrete noun [introduce the idea of abstract nouns]. Sort the special word cards into three piles-people, places, things. Name some other nouns from this story.  Go along book about nouns: Merry-Go-Round by Ruth Heller


Proper Nouns

Find the word cards that begin with capital letters. Explain that some nouns name a specific person, place or thing. A proper noun begins with a capital letter. Write your name. Why did you use a capital letter? Look at the cover of this book, why is the title capitalized? California is capitalized because it is the name of a particular state. Write the name of your state. Did you use a capital letter?



Read and enjoy this poem. Use it for copywork or memory work with an older student. 


                  The Swallows

Nine swallows sat on a telephone wire:

‘Teeter,teeter,’ and they were still,

all facing one way, with the sun like a fire

along their blue shoulders, and hot on each bill.

But they sat there so quietly, all of the nine,

that I almost forgot they were swallows at all.

They seemed more like clothespins left out on the line

when the wash is just dried, and the first raindrops fall.

                    Elizabeth Coatsworth



Migration (contributed by Wende)

Ever since Julian could remember, the swallows came to the village of Capistrano in the spring, and left again in late summer. When a large number of animals travel from place to place, it is called migration. For many years people have been puzzled as to why animals migrate and how they find their way to the same distant places, year after year. Animals may migrate at different times and for many different reasons. Animals are thought to have an inner clock, that tells them when it is time to move on. They most likely use the length of the days and the temperature to judge the best time to start migration. Some move to a warmer climate, where food is more plentiful. Others relocate looking for a better place to give birth. We know from Song of the Swallows that the swallows came to nest in
the garden, where there was lots of fresh water and they were undisturbed. The birds instinctually knew that this would be a safe place to lay their eggs and raise their babies. Swallows are strong flying land birds that migrate during the daytime, catching and eating insects mid air as they travel. They reach heights of up to 3,000 feet, and travel by the hundreds and thousands. Scientists believe that birds that migrate during the daytime navigate by using the position of the sun. Birds have good vision and memories, so it is also thought that they watch for landmarks, such as the California coastline. Migrating birds need to watch out for many dangers along the way, the most deadly being storms. Lighthouses, skyscrapers, and tall bridges are also hazards to the traveling birds.
Ask your child if he has seen any animals migrating, maybe geese, or butterflies, and have him keep a look out for this wonder of nature in the future. A good go-along book is All About Animal Migrations by John Sanders.

Swallows Notebooking Pages Created by Wende
Primary Page
Notebooking Page



Discuss the changing seasons. Draw a picture of an apple tree in each season. Label each card with the appropriate season.

Note: Use four blank index cards for this activity and mount the finished cards on a dark colored sheet of paper.


Cultural Studies


Language: Spanish

Identify the Spanish words in this story. Show the Spanish word cards to the student. Pronounce the Spanish words.  Together translate the Spanish words into English.

Spanish Word List



los golondrinas




buenas tardes

buenas dias


Counting in Spanish

Learn these words. You will hear them often is songs and games. It will give you a start in learning a new language. [Assuming you don’t already speak Spanish]

 1. uno
 2. dos
 3. tres
 4. cuatro
 5. cinco
 6. seis
 7. siete
 8. ocho
 9. nueve
10. diez 

Spanish Language Activities at Enchanted Learning


Cultural Awareness

Tell the student that names are not translated. However, some names have an English equivalent. This is useful to know, when reading. Example: You read a reference to San Juan, and you want to know who it is.  However, Juan’s name is Juan and your name is your name no matter where you live. Respect the names of others and work to pronounce them correctly.

Attend a Spanish service at your church if possible. The music is lovely.



Note: You will need a globe or a map.

Locate some countries that are primarily Spanish speaking countries. Are there any areas in the USA where Spanish is spoken? Song of the Swallows mentions the Pacific Ocean. Locate the Pacific Ocean.

Math Skills


Create a number chart.

Write the Spanish words for the numbers 1-10. Draw the correct amount of swallows beside each number. Use your chart to teach a friend. Note: If this is too much handwriting the teacher should write the words and the student add the illustrations.




Make a Piñata
1. Gather supplies: newspaper strips, homemade paste, fringed crepe paper [lots of different colors], aired up balloon. You will need time and patience to do this, but it is worth it!
2. Make the paste by cooking some flour and water until it’s the consistency of bad gravy. It will be thick and sticky. Let it cool.
3. Dip the newspaper strips in the paste. Remove excess using your fingers.
4. Wrap the strips around the balloon in all directions. Let dry a little. Then repeat 2 more times. Let dry completely.
5. Paste the fringed crepe paper to the balloon. Rows of different colors will look best, but your child may have his own plan in mind.
6. Cut an opening and fill with candy if you plan to break open the piñata.

Make an Easier Piñata
1. Gather supplies: lunch bag size paper sack, fringed crepe paper and glue.
2. Glue rows of fringed crepe paper to the sack, all the way to the top.
3. Fill with candy and staple shut.



Juan and Julian take good care of God’s creation. We are to be good stewards of things given to our care. This verse will help us to remember our duty.

Consider this for a memory verse this week-- "A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel. Psalm 12:10 KJV


Listen to This Is My Father’s World. Try to learn the first verse.