Wednesday, July 31

Building Your Kind, Caring, Growth Mindset Classroom Community

Building a culture of kindness and classroom community is so important! I love to begin the school year with these important foundations and also revisit them throughout the year!

To really dig in deep, I love complementing a kindness mini-unit with amazingly fun Read Alouds...I especially love read alouds that help develop and cultivate a strong, supportive and kind-hearted classroom culture.

This "Let's Be Kind" has several read aloud suggestions in addition to its projectables, printables and poems. You can read even more about this SEL Kindness unit in a more recent post.

A while back, while hosting Chapter 5 of Teach Like A Pirate, I wrote a non-letter letter to myself that would be like a letter I would hope to receive from a parent or student about what my classroom was all about. Gina from Third Grade Tidbits suggested I turn it into a printable.

I hope you love the results!! Everyone Matters posters! Since there are multiple options, it is a compressed (zipped) file that you'll need to extract.

For those of you who would like to add it to your office door or to another space, there are two other header versions for each of the decor options: 

This office is a...


This is a...

This culture and community of kindness and growth mindset is so important to me...a culture of persevering when mistakes are where kids want to figure things out where we can crack up together and especially make sure we know that every single one of us counts, has strengths, needs to grow and feels loved and cared for by their peers.

When kids understand this, soooo much progress can be made - academic, social, very important when educating the whole child.

That being said...the read alouds I select should speak to these core values...

By the way...any time you click the titles of the books, it's a hyperlink to the book on Amazon where you can often see more of it inside. Full disclosure: It's also linked to my Amazon Affiliate pressure...I just do that because if you had been planning to buy it already, why not do it in a way the gives someone a teeny tiny credit when it's at no extra cost to you? I love online shopping off of others' Affiliate links...feel free to leave your link in the comments. :)

Back to School Growing Firsties Read Alouds
Amazon Affiliate links included in this post

Updated to add two more FABULOUS titles!

Your Fantastic Elastic Brain helps kids understand how their brains work - it helps build community because it levels the playing field when it comes to skills (just because someone is quicker at math doesn't make them smarter or more special). It also helps everyone understand the importance of effort.

Taking Flight is written by a 12 year old about her experiences learning to fly a plane, and then flying it across the US and even the Atlantic Ocean back in 1992. My students are MESMERIZED by it and it's a great touchstone book to discuss problem solving and perseverance.

You might also like my post about Growth Mindset, over on Elementary Chalkboard, too!

Here are the books I'm thinking about...

I am completely obsessed with Amy Krouse Rosenthal's books...she is unique, clever and profound. Especially when she partners with Tom Lichtenheld for his illustrations.

I love to read The OK Book within the first days of school...It is SO clever...when you turn the OK vertical, it turns into a stick figure person...the message of the book is "I'm okay at a lot of things. Some day I'll be excellent at some things. I'm having a lot of fun being okay along the way."

There are countless applications to this message!

I'll further develop the culture using another one of my very favorite books...

Ish by Peter Reynolds helps build the life-critical concept that just because it's not perfect doesn't mean you shouldn't try. 

Here's another life message one by a groovy cat...

Pete the Cat is the most loveable and groovy cat that does not let himself get worked up about obstacles..."It's allllll good."

Pete is the mascot in my classrom...I have a 14ish inch plush Pete attached to my easel helping us all throughout the day try to remember that "it's allll good." At home, my son has a plush Pete that is over 2 FEET tall! We lovvvve Pete!

I'm also excited about reading Leo the Late Bloomer as a way to discuss that we're all currently strong at different things and everyone will develop more strengths at different rates...which is ALLLLLL good! Thanks, Katie, for putting it out there on your page!!! (So many reasons you're fab, girly!)

The last fave that comes to mind is by the amazing Kevin Henkes...

Chrysanthemum is wonderful for so many reasons! I love to use it at the beginning of the year to discuss the harmfulness of teasing.

I would SO love to hear what books you enjoy reading to develop your classroom community!!!



  1. The OK Book is a favorite of mine. We turn it into a class book, so the kids get to draw their own OK doing something that they're just OK at.

    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

  2. Thank you for the list! Adding it to my cart now ;)

  3. Love Chrysanthemum! Thanks for reminding me about some excellent books and introducing me to The OK Book! Awesome!

    Learning With Mrs. Leeby

  4. A few I've never heard of. Thanks for the heads up to check them out!

    For the Love of First Grade

  5. Chrysanthemum is one of my favorites and all the Pete the Cat books are a big hit! Teaching with Giggles

  6. I will check out the OK Book. I really like that author also. Last summer I read "Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life" by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. It was an adult book. It was unusual and I loved it!
    Curious Firsties

  7. I always read Chrysanthemum & Ish, too! The Dot is another great one by Peter Reynolds. Hits home for me since I'm a horrible artist :) I'm definitely going to check out The OK book. Thanks for the suggestions!

    Lucky to Be in First

    1. I LOVE The Dot, too!!!! He has a new one out that I just ordered, too. :)

  8. Our principal comes around to each class during the first few days of school to read "Have You Filled a Bucket Today?". He does a great job of talking to the kids about being bucket fillers and dippers. It really helps get the whole school on the same page. Thanks for the freebie!

    1. I love that book!!! And SO cool that your principal does that!!!!

  9. Lisa - girl ~ Michelle did a great job on your blog...I love your new makeover honey! Adorable!!!!! Just like you!

  10. I love the new blog design! So cute! Thank you for the sign as well. It is going up framed in my classroom.

    Second Grade is Out of This World!

  11. I love, love, love your new look! It's beYOUtiful! Thanks for the adorable's a framer!

    Read With Me ABC

  12. Screaming over your blog!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. Love your new look!! Love the poster...already printed it and now I need to find a frame. Added OK to my Amazon cart. It looks like such a great book.

    Terri Izatt

  14. 1. Love your blog design! Gorgeous.
    2. Never read the OK book--will check out for sure!
    3. We always read Chrysanthemum, Leo the Late Bloomer, and my favorite to read on the very 1st day is First Day Jitters, to let them know that even I am a little nervous about starting a new year!
    4. Have you read The Crayon Box That Talks? Awesome!
    5. K bye. :)

    Teach On.

    1. You crack me up! I forgot about The Crayon Box book - so happy you reminded me of it!!!!!! And...THANK YOU!!!!

  15. Hi there. I love your "This classroom is a..." sign and would love to use it on my guidance office door. I can't figure out how to edit it to say office rather than classroom. Any suggestions before I spend a whole day trying to recreate your work? Thanks.
    Happy New (School) Year.

    1. Done, Maura! I added two that says office and one that just says This is a...Thanks so much for the idea!

    2. Thank you so much! That was fast! I am printing it as we speak.
      Can't wait to hang it on my office door at my new school.

  16. These are all such fabulous choices! I love, love, LOVE Ish!
    Short and Sassy Teacher

  17. SO excited to have stumbled upon your blog. I am switching to first grade after 6 years of teaching 2nd grade.

    Some first day/ week books that I love to read are:
    - First Day Jitters
    - One
    - Pig Kahuna (a hysterical book that is a nice way to wrap up the first Friday)
    - Miss Rumphius

  18. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. I am super excited to hear about Pig Kahuna!!! New to me! Thanks a bunch for stopping by! :)

  19. Love it sweet friend,... you are adorable. I want that little pea book. I have never heard of it and it looks hilarious! xoxo, Vicky

  20. I really LOVED the graphic you had with "We are all the same amount of special" on it. I teach students with disabilities and "special" is sometimes used in a passively ableist way but the way you phrased it was so perfect because it includes EVERYONE. I would a absolutely love if you could make that into a printable.
    Your resources are fantastic. I love your heart for teaching. Thank you so much for sharing!😊


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