Grades 1-5 Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Reading Lesson Plan


To connect literature to personal emotions by describing characters and comparing/contrasting those emotions to real-life experiences

ELA Standards 

  • GRADE 1: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.1.3- Describe characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key details.
  • GRADE 2: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.2.3-Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.
  • GRADE 3: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.3.3- Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events
  • GRADE 4: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.4.3- Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character's thoughts, words, or actions).
  • GRADE 5: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.5.3- Compare and contrast two or more characters, settings, or events in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., how characters interact).

Corresponding SEL Skills

●     Label and recognize own and others’ emotions

●     Analyze emotions and how they affect others

●     Evaluate others’ emotional reactions

●     Reflect on how current choices affect future


Students will examine how emotions impact characters’ lives, and draw connections to reflect on how emotions affect their own lives and the people around them.


  • Pens/pencils 
  • Copies of grade-level text
  • Copies of double-entry journal worksheet


Students will identify character emotions demonstrated in a literary text and relate them to their own lives.

Student Activity: Double-Entry Journal

  • Begin by asking students to share what are some of the emotions they noticed the characters expressing as they read.
  • List students’ ideas on the board or chart paper.
  • Explain that when we read, we can draw similarities between experiences the characters have and ones that we have experienced in our own lives.
  • Ask students to review the group list of examples of emotions and to pick a few (number may depend on grade level) to put in the first column of their double-entry journals. 
  • Next, ask students to review each example and think of a time that they experienced the same emotion or feeling. They should write this in the second column.


Ask for volunteers to share their responses. Remind students that we all go through these types of emotions and it is important to be able to identify them so we have strategies in the future. As an extension activity, you could ask students to brainstorm coping strategies for dealing with different types of negative emotions like sadness or disappointment.

Who: This Social Emotional Learning (SEL) reading lesson plan is effective for grades 1-5 and all levels of readers. 

What: Through the incorporation of SEL, students can draw conclusions about the characters in a text and make connections to their own lives.

Where: This lesson plan can be used in language arts or in any subject where students are working with literary texts. 

When: This lesson plan is geared towards whole group instruction and individual practice. It can be used at any point during the school year.


Why: The activity presented in the lesson plan is a good framework for promoting self-awareness, social awareness, and responsible decision making skills.

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