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Social Emotional Stories: Lessons and Learning from Plants and Animals

Social Emotional Stories

Lessons and Learning from Plants and Animals


Storytelling is a learning device used by humans for centuries, and for good reason: storytelling is one of the best ways to increase critical thinking skills and social emotional learning (SEL). Social Emotional Stories combines storytelling with thought-provoking lessons and activities to help elementary students improve their self-esteem, increase their engagement with school, and give them a sense of empowerment.

The book contains 24 individual lessons that include:
  • An SEL objective with specific keywords like “inner strength,” “problem solving,” and “responsibility”
  • An engaging story that focuses on a distinctive quality of either a plant (like the inner strength of bamboo) or an animal (like the courage of a pig)
  • Multiple activities that are quick, easy, and require few supplies to help kids identify and dive deeper into the specific SEL concepts represented. 
Educators can use these lessons individually with students, in small groups, or with an entire class. The lessons are interdisciplinary and flexible, with only minimal prep time required, allowing educators to adapt them for their situation. Extensive digital content supports the lessons with reproducible forms and a full-color photo of each plant and animal.
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Paperback $34.99 85140W Paperback 85140W $34.99

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ISBN: 978-1-63198-514-0
Illustrated: illustrations
Audience: Educators, Grades 2–5
Trim Size: 8.5" x 11"
Page Count: 176
Praise for Social Emotional Stories
“Lewis introduces fascinating aspects of the natural world—its constructive and destructive power—to young students in a way that reaches beyond knowledge acquisition. She shows teachers how to build bridges to the inner worlds of children with analogical thinking, reflective questions, and thoughtful conversations that nourish not only their understanding but their agency. If you want to use learning as a way to develop your students’ character, intrinsic motivation, and an ethically grounded relationship with the world, this is the guide you need.”—Diane Stirling, professional development coordinator for CHARACTERplus®
“Barbara Lewis weaves factual information with down-to-earth, applicable activities and discussions to encourage students’ appreciation for nature, while building their power to observe and to understand people and their world as multidimensional. Throughout, Lewis is respectful of children’s capacity to discuss important issues and form their own opinions.”—Silvia Blitzer Golombek, Ph.D., former senior vice president, Youth Service America
“Another delightful book from Barbara Lewis, Social Emotional Stories is filled with fascinating depictions and insightful analogies to support character development. We recommend Barbara Lewis’s books to all the families who seek our services. Believing that children can make a difference, Lewis provides the inspiration for helping others, taking a stand against injustice, squelching rumors, and seeing beyond stereotypes. This book should be a staple in every school’s social-emotional learning curriculum.”—Linda Kreger Silverman, Ph.D., licensed psychologist, director of the Gifted Development Center
“Creatively weds character education with analogies from nature to help teachers promote both deep learning and positive character development in students . . . this synergy is just what education should be.”—Marvin W. Berkowitz, Ph.D., Sanford N. McDonnell Endowed Professor in Character Education and co-director of the Center for Character and Citizenship, University of Missouri–St. Louis
“Engaging stories, character connections, and high-level thinking make a powerful combination in this resource, which will be enjoyed by teachers as well as children.”—Julia Roberts, Ed.D., executive director, The Center for Gifted Studies, Western Kentucky University

Download a photo, story, and worksheet from the book.

  • ASCA Mindsets & Behaviors for Student Success

    MS.1, MS.2, MS.3, MS.5, MS.6, BS.LS.1, BS.LS.2, BS.LS.6, BS.LS.7, BS.LS.9, BS.SMS.1, BS.SMS.2, BS.SMS.3, BS.SMS.4, BS.SMS.5, BS.SMS.6, BS.SMS.7, BS.SMS.8, BS.SMS.9, BS.SMS.10, BS.SS.1, BS.SS.2, BS.SS.3, BS.SS.4, BS.SS.5, BS.SS.6, BS.SS.7, BS.SS.8, BS.SS.9

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User Reviews

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February 25, 2021 / PATRICIA BRYSON

Always looking for great stories to read to my grandkids. We have had great discussions to helpl them understand their concerns and feelings. Stories are powerful to promote empathy and the animal stories help the kids open up to their emotions.


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