Check out these great stories from the CommonLit library that are all about making new friends!
At CommonLit, we see the beginning of the school year as a great opportunity for students to meet classmates and get excited about making new friends. Teachers and parents take note: these fun texts (and activities!) are a great way to help students think about the new friends they will make at school this year!
“The Sheep and the Pig” by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey
In this goofy fable, a sheep and a pig decide to build a house. Along the way, they meet some farm animal friends that want to join them. Each animal contributes something unique to the house (who knew pigs were so good at making bricks?) and they are all able to live happily ever after.
This story helps students recognize their unique importance to a group, and the importance of working together. Each individual has something special to bring. Try a classroom activity where all the students have an opportunity to build something together. This could be a song, a drawing, or a dance, etc. Have each of your students brainstorm what they can contribute and watch the collaboration begin!
“MVP” by Clare Mishica
This high-octane story follows a basketball game as one player learns the importance of teamwork. At first, the protagonist Derek cares more about his individual performance than his team’s success, but as the game progresses, he learns to trust his teammates and wins the championship.
Trust is crucial to classroom activities, games, and friendships. If your class can bond together and prioritize the group, you’re bound to have an awesome school year! One activity I love is a blind trust walk through an obstacle course. This could be done inside or out, and involves a blindfolded student being led by another around obstacles. The goal is to emphasize the importance of trust and leadership, and to not end up with any bruised shins.
“Jared to the Rescue” by Carole Duncan Buckman
A classroom feud? Check. A box of kittens? Check. A story of bitter rivals placing their differences aside? Check. This story follows two students on the first day of second grade. What begins as a fight turns into a friendship as they learn to trust and help each other. While leaving a box of kittens unattended in a classroom sounds like a disaster in hindsight, it helps Jared and Jessica bond and have a great start to their year.
Tension between students is inevitable, and it’s important to recognize disagreements and help students work through their differences. Resolving conflicts can be the difference between a student struggling with school every morning and waking up excited for the day ahead!
“Aly’s Discovery” by Jacqueline Adams
Friends can be found in all sorts of places, just ask Aly! When Aly moves to a new home, she finds herself lonely and bored, and looks to her old land-lady for help. The twist in this story is sure to leave your kids floored, so I won’t spoil it here. Needless to say, Aly finds an unexpected friend during a hard time.
One great activity to help students recognize their similarities is called "In Common." For this activity, break students into small groups. Each group must identify at least 5 things they all have in common. They can then come up with a fun group cheer or short theme song relating to these similarities.
“Masks” by Shel Silverstein
A shorty but a goody. Just don’t show the kids a picture of the author before bedtime (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, anyone?) and this story will be a surefire hit! This poem explores how we present ourselves to the world, how we think of our identities, and the importance of authenticity.
If you’re looking for a fun activity, give each student a secret identity as part of a pair (for example peanut butter and jelly, salt and pepper, mac and cheese, etc.). Each student places their name on their forehead so they cannot see it. They must then try to find out their own identity and their partner through yes or no questions. Once mac has found cheese, salt has found pepper, and peanut butter has found jelly, the game ends. Do this one before lunch and you’re guaranteed to get some stomachs growling!
“Standing out in the Herd” by Cecil Dzwowa
This short informational text is a great tale for anyone who feels left out from the pack. Toro is an orphaned giraffe who ends up joining a herd of cattle. While he’s a little different in size, he fits in well and they are able to use their differences to strengthen the herd.
It’s easy to feel like a giraffe amongst cattle on the first day of school. Students who see themselves as outsiders may feel like they don’t fit in or have a role in the group. Here’s a great activity to help students recognize differences and foster an inclusive classroom.
Looking for more texts on friendship? Check out our “What is a friend?” thematic unit in our CommonLit library!
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