At the beginning of the year, it is essential to teach routines/procedures, but it's also important to start to build your classroom community. Here are a few read alouds and activities that I used to help students start to make those lasting friendships with their peers.
The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister is one of those classic books that many early childhood teachers read the first few weeks of school. It is a great story of a beautiful fish who has sparkly scales that all the other fish admire. At the beginning of the story, the Rainbow Fish loses many friends due to his selfishness. After learning a lesson about friendship, he starts to share his scales and notices how much happier he becomes when he shares, and in turn, he makes friends again.
After reading this book, we make our own rainbow fish using tissue paper. Each student also receives a shiny scale (piece of foil), which they get so excited about!! Here's a bulletin board I made one year with our Rainbow Fish craft. You can get a FREE fish template from Meaningful Mamma.
It's Okay to be Different by Todd Parr is a great way to introduce the fact that we are all different. Some of our friends may wear glasses, be a different skin color, a different height, in a wheelchair, etc. This book helps students see that no matter who we are, we deserve to be treated the same.
Hunter's Best Friend at School by Laura Malone Elliott is a great book to teach about friendship and peer pressure. Hunter and Stripe like to do everything the same. One day Stripe starts causing mischief, but how does Hunter react? I like that this book teaches students about still being their own self, even when they have a best friend. It's also a great lesson when talking about behavior and to not always do what your friend tells you to do, but to always make a good choice.
I used my Building a Classroom Community bundle at the beginning of the year to talk about friendship, positive behavior choices, getting to know you activities, etc. I don't like to tell me kids they are "bad", so if they don't do the right thing, I like to say they made a "poor choice". As a whole group, we sorted these cards into the 2 categories and discussed each card as to why it is a good/poor choice. We also discussed what to do if someone made a poor choice.