Am I Left-Handed or Right-Handed?
- Grades: 1–2
- Unit Plan:
Left and right can be a difficult concept for first graders to learn. But with a fun introductory lesson and a picture graph, students are on their way to learning the difference between left and right.
- Listen to the selected story for information
- Participate in answering questions from the selected story
- Discuss the difference between a fiction and nonfiction book
- Record information to contribute to the class graph
- Use math vocabulary to ask and answer questions about the class graph
- Use math vocabulary to compare and contrast information presented in the class graph
- Introduce the concept of left and right
- Book: Left or Right? by Karl Rehm and Kay Koike
- Poster board or bulletin board paper to create graph
- Colored construction paper for students to trace their hands
- Pencils, glue, tape, crayons, markers, colored pencils
Set Up and Prepare
Have book, poster board or butcher paper, glue, and markers ready to use.
Step 1: Introduce the concept of left and right handed by asking students to hold their pencil to get ready to write their name. Then ask them to hold that pencil in the air.
Step 2: Put students into two groups, left-handed and right-handed. Explain that everyone is born to favor a certain hand to write and do other things. Most people are right-handed, but many people are left-handed and some people can even write with both hands!
Step 3: Tell students "Knowing which side is the left or the right is very important in helping us to follow directions correctly. What are some times that you can think of that we need to know the left or the right?" Student responses may include when we say the pledge of allegiance, when we walk in the hallways, when we write our date, etc.
Step 4: Read the book Left or Right and have student answer questions about what side of the page certain objects are on.
Step 5: After reading the book, use real objects and students set up in different situations to discuss if they are on the right or the left.
Step 6: Tell students that today we are going to make a picture graph using their hands.
Step 7: Remind students of the graphs that we created about our names and birthdays, and ask them what is the first thing we need to write on our graph so people know what it is about.
Step 8: Write the title "Left or Right?" across the top of the poster board, having students help you sound out each word.
Step 9: Ask students what information should we add to our graph next. They might think that the title is enough or they may want to add the words "left" and "right" with a hand traced next to each word.
Step 10: Demonstrate how to work with a partner to trace each other's hand. Model how to spread your fingers wide enough to trace between and then show how to carefully cut around each finger. Tell students you want them to write their name in the middle of their hand after it is cut out. Remind students that they should trace the hand they use to write!
Step 11: Ask each student to choose whatever colored piece of construction paper they would like to use to trace their own hand.
Step 12: Students work with a partner to trace and cut out the image of their hand, then add their name. Students who finish sooner can add rings, fingernails, etc. while students who are not as swift with the scissors are still cutting!
Step 13: Have students bring their hands back to the community area. Ask students how we should attach these hands to our graph. Guide them to understanding that gluing the hands in groups of two's or three's will help us to read our graph easily.
Step 14: Once the graph is complete ask questions to compare information shown on the graph.
- How many students are left-handed?
- How many students are right-handed?
- Which side has the greatest amount hands?
- Which side has the least amount hands?
- What is a number that falls between these two numbers?
- How many more student have right hands than left?
- How many hands do we have all together?
- How many hands would we have on the right side if I took four hands away?
- How could this graph change or not change over time?
- What are you looking at on the graph to help you figure that out?
- What does this graph tell us about the class?
Optional: Display the "Left or Right?" graph in the hallway along with the other graphs from the unit.
Supporting All Learners
All students are able to participate in creating the "Left or Right?" graph. I also encourage students to think of their own questions to ask about the graph to support my gifted learners. The use of real objects to determine left or right supports my ELL learners. This is an excellent time to discuss the differences between the words right and write and take some time to talk about homonyms.
Use a digital camera to take photos of students standing, sitting, or holding things to the left or the right of objects. Students can also work with a partner to set up their own left or right situation to photograph in order to create another class book. Use simple language for the text. "Where is Melissa, on the left or the right of the desk?" then on the back side glue the answer "She is on the right." Having a chart in your room with a right and left hand cut out on it for students to place their own hands on can give extra support.
Classroom Tips: When creating class books with your students, keep a template for each book on your computer so you can just type in the new or changed information, print, cut, glue, and laminate for a beautifully made book that will stand the test of time.
If your class creates a book with the left and right photos, send home the classmade book with a different student each night so they can share it with their family.
Have students go home and take a survey of their own family members to see if they are right or left handed. Send a large piece of paper home for this project. Have students trace each family members hand and write the corresponding person's name on the hand and finally write if they are left-handed or right-handed.
This lesson gives us another opportunity to use our math vocabulary and skills while learning some real world information that will help us maneuver through our world more successfully.
Take note of which students choose to think of their own questions about the graph and which students are still struggling to answer simple counting questions.
Here are several books about the importance of following directions that can help enrich the lesson.
The Secret Birthday Message by Eric Carle
Giggle, Giggle, Quack by Doreen Cronin
Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish
Monkey See, Monkey Do by Marc Gave
Clap Your Hands by Lorinda Bryan Cauley
What Will I Do If I Can't Tie My Shoe? By Heidi Kilgras