Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog

3 Reading Activities That Boost Social-Emotional Learning [First Grade]

By Rhonda McDonald, Reading Specialist, Guest Blogger

If you're looking for ways to ensure social-emotional development with lessons in narrative texts that students can easily identify and apply to their lives, you'll want to keep reading. In today's blog post, I'll describe activities that you can use to improve social-emotional learning among kids in first grade while they practice reading level H fables.

The Donkey and His Driver

In The Donkey and His Driver , a donkey learns a valuable lesson about taking shortcuts. His driver wants to take the slow and safe road down a mountain to reach their farm; however, the donkey decides that it would be fastest to go straight down the mountain. The driver tries to reason that his decision is based on experience, but the headstrong donkey refuses to listen. The donkey learns a valuable lesson after ignoring the driver when it crashes into the roof of the driver's barn.

The teacher’s guide for this level H narrative text will help you encourage kids to practice comprehension, understand character traits, identify nouns and verbs, and improve reading fluency. Before reading, you can prompt kids to make predictions of what they think will happen in this story. Have them read to see if their predictions were correct, and then use the following thought-provoking questions to facilitate real-world connections: Can you tell me a time when you listened to someone who has more experience? Can you share a time when you did not listen to someone who had more experience? How did that turn out?

The Fox, the Lion, and the Deer

The second level H fable that we will take a look at is The Fox, the Lion, and the Deer . This is a tale of a fox that tries to outsmart a lion because both animals see a deer and want to catch and eat it. The fox makes a plan to catch the deer in one net and the lion in another net so that it will not have to share the food. After setting up two nets, the fox decides to take a nap. While napping, the deer tells the lion of the plan with two nets. The lion is so angry that he wakes up the fox, which startles the fox and forces it to learn that when you plan something for evil, it will turn out badly.

After reading this level guided reading book, encourage children to discuss what it means to be honest. Identify a character that was honest in The Fox, the Lion, and the Deer . Then talk about why honesty is important in life. Have students watch for examples of someone being honest as they go through the school day.

Make an “I Spy” jar for kids to drop a marble in each time someone is observed as being honest. You can demonstrate this by saying, I saw Susan take her spelling test without looking at her neighbor’s paper. When the marble jar is full, plan a fun activity for the class for showing the character trait of honesty.

The Heron and the Swan

The Heron and the Swan is another level H story that is a great resource to help encourage social-emotional learning. A heron and a swan are both hungry and see many things to eat in their lake. The heron eats nearly everything that crawls or swims nearby, but the swan is too particular to eat what was in front of him. By the end of the day, the swan is still hungry, and the heron is full. The swan learns that he should be happy with what he has instead of wanting something else.

A fun reading activity to engage kids with involves role-playing this story with lunch trays or backpacks. Put many school supplies, such as a box of crayons, a paint set, fancy pencils, or colorful folders, in one of the trays or backpacks; and in the other, put only a few items that are necessary (plain yellow pencils, eraser, notebook paper). Ask the students which backpack they would rather have and encourage them to explain why.

Ask students if they would be able to complete their school work with the lighter backpack. The correct answer is yes , but often we desire the fancier things in life that are not really necessary. The lesson students should learn is to be content with what you have.

To help kids continue making real-world connections after you've helped them with social-emotional development, you can use the nonfiction books for kids that pair with each of the fables mentioned in today's blog post. Reading practice with fables is a practical way to help kids leverage their prior knowledge while making real-world connections that help boost social-emotional learning. Be sure to visit our blog soon for more ways to use leveled books in your classroom!

Rhonda was a Title 1 Reading Specialist in Botetourt County Public Schools, Virginia. She now substitutes and visits schools and libraries to lead writing workshops, story time, and parent workshops. She is also an author of children's books and several titles in our  Kaleidoscope Collection  and Zoozoo Animal World  series.  Neat Feet Two Voices is the second nonfiction book available in the fall of 2019 in a reader's theater format that follows  Nest Quest Two Voices , both of which Rhonda has authored. If you like what you read here, you can enjoy more by Rhonda on our blog .