Learning from Animals: 3 Books for Building Social Skills in Your Classroom

As an early childhood teacher, you understand it’s important to get your class ready for kindergarten.

Can your children count to 10? Or 20? Can they sing the alphabet and name the sounds of each letter? Knowing this information will help you, parents, and future teachers recognize the strengths and weaknesses of each child.

But did you know that supporting infants and young children’s social-emotional development is also critical to school readiness and overall success?

According to a new study (http://baltimore-berc.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/SocialBehavioralReadinessMarch2016.pdf), researchers found that by the fourth grade, children who entered K-5 behind in social-emotional skills were 80 percent more likely to have been retained and 7 times more likely to be suspended or expelled (link to expulsion article).  

Embedding your teaching strategies with social-emotional enhancement is easy–especially when done intentionally with the Pyramid Model. Our methodology and resources help the early childhood workforce promote positive relationships within the context of education.

One of our favorite tools for engaging children in conversations about social challenges is literacy or reading time.

So, here are 3 animal books you can read to your class while also promoting healthy relationships. Click on the links provided to access suggested activities and lesson plans for each story.

Big Al by Andrew Clements

Big Al is a nice fish. But because he’s big, scary, and different, the other fish are afraid of him. Big Al tries everything to make friends, from dressing up as seaweed to burrowing beneath the ocean. The tides take a turn when a fishing net captures the other fish and Big Al proves he’s a good friend.

Use this story to help your children see bits of themselves in Big Al–how would they feel if they couldn’t make friends? What are some ways they can make friends like Big Al did?

Download PDF of Classroom Activities

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Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney

Llama’s first day of preschool is here, but he misses his mother. He doesn’t understand why she has to leave or when she will be back. But it doesn’t take long for Llama to make friends and learn just how fun preschool can be!

Read this story to your class during the first few weeks of school or right after a long break. Ask your children if they have ever missed someone. Or what they can do to help a friend who feels sad or lonely.

Download PDF of Classroom Activities

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Mouse was Mad by Linda Urban

Mouse is mad, but he doesn’t know how to show it, so he searches through the forest. He asks a hare, a bear, and a bobcat how to show he’s mad. Nothing seems to work until he discovers his own way of expressing his feelings.

This story is a great lesson for teaching young children how to express their emotions in a healthy and positive way. What does a mad face look like? How does being mad feel? Is it okay to be mad?

Download PDF of Classroom Activities

Find this book on Amazon

These are just 3 of the many books you can add to your rotation so you can teach healthy social and emotional development in your early childhood classroom. Interested in receiving more resources and materials for intentional lesson planning? Sign up for our newsletter here (link to sign up).


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