First Grade Weekly Classroom Lessons

Below you will find the lessons we are doing each week in the classroom.  Additionally, you will see that for many lessons I have attached corresponding videos.  During the 2020-2021 school year I was unable to go into the classroom for my lessons, but I was able to create videos for the lessons to send home to students starring my cats Fiona and Logan.  The videos were a big hit so I have included them for families to watch at home so you can hear the same vocabulary and ideas that I am teaching the students in the classroom.  I hope you find them useful and entertaining.

*In first grade I spend several weeks reviewing information from kindergarten.  So for lessons related to big problem/small problem and big reaction/small reaction, you may want to visit the kindergarten page if you'd like to see the lessons broken down and more thoroughly explained.

**Due to conferences, holidays, and other events, classrooms will be on different lessons as the year progresses.  If you would like to know which lesson your student's classroom is currently learning, please just e-mail me and let me know 😊

Lesson 1:  Students listened to the story Whole Body Listening Larry at School.  This means that:

  • Eyes are looking at the person talking
  • Ears are listening to follow the directions the first time
  • Mouth is closed and our voice is off
  • Arms are still
  • Legs are still
  • Body is calm
  • We are using our brain to think about what the person is saying
  • We use our heart to pay attention to how the people around us are feeling

Whole body listening is language that is used all throughout first and second grade.  Hopefully your child can tell you or show you what it looks like and sounds like.

Corresponding video(s) from 2020-

               Whole body listening quiz-

Lesson 2:  We reviewed the idea of expected behaviors and unexpected behaviors for kindergarten.  I emphasize not thinking of behavior so much as good or bad, but more of are we doing what is expected in different situations.  We talk about how when we do what is expected people enjoy being around us, but when we do something unexpected that people usually feel uncomfortable and they may not want to be around us at that time.  With the teacher, we talk about different school routines and what is expected in different situations, as well as what is expected for how we treat each other.

Lesson 3: Review of Big Problem/Small Problem from kindergarten.  As a class we review the 3 things that make something a big problem in school (which means we want them to get an adult for help).  Those 3 things are when someone is hurt, something is broken, or something is scary or dangerous.  For 1st grade I add a fourth thing that makes something a big problem, if someone is hurting our feelings over and over. 

I also review using small reactions for our small problems instead of big reactions.  Big reactions are yelling, screaming, crying, kicking/hitting, whining, and pouting. We review the 4 small reactions I want them to try using at school; a shrug, a quiet sigh, snapping their fingers, or saying “oh well,” or “maybe next time” in a calm voice.  I also encourage the students to come up with their own small reactions.

               Big problem small problem 2020 introduction video-

               Big reaction small reaction 2020 video-

Lesson 4: Solving Problems non-verbal.  I explain to the students that this year we are going to break up our different ways to solve small problems into ways where we talk to solve a problem and ways where we don’t talk.  I explain that verbal means talking and non-verbal means not talking.  We review and practice the 4 non-verbal ways to address a small problem.  I also try to emphasize to the students that solving a small problem is not always about trying to prove you’re right and someone else is wrong (even when we know they are wrong).  Sometimes it’s just about trying to keep yourself and the situation calm instead of arguing.

               Solving small problems non-verbal 2020 video-

Lesson 5: Solving small problems verbal part 1.  We review Make a Deal and Please Stop from last year.  I heavily emphasize the importance of using a calm voice when solving a problem and we practice using our calm voice repeatedly.  We do a lot more role-playing in first grade to try and give the students as much practice as possible using these skills in situations that may come up during the school day.

  • Make a Deal- If you and another student want the same thing (whether that is to go first in a game or you both want the same item), instead of arguing try to make a deal where you each get something you want.  Examples given are typically “Can I please have the game/toy for 10 minutes and then you can have it for 10 minutes?”, or “You can have the game today if I can have it tomorrow?”  Another popular deal is “Can I please go in front of you in line right now and then you can go in front of me on the way back?”
  • Please Stop- Students are taught to use a calm voice and asking someone to please stop doing something that may be bothering them.  We role-play different scenarios and I emphasize to the kids that they should say exactly what they want the other person to stop.  Example: “Can you please stop talking to me while I’m doing my work.”

Make a Deal and Please Stop review 2020 video-

Lesson 6 Solving small problems verbal part 2.  We review and practice Apologizing and Talk It Out to solve small problems.  Talk it out is very difficult for most students at this age, so this is the one we do the most amount of practicing and role-playing. 

  • Apologize- I talk to students about how we all make mistakes or do things sometimes that bother other people even though we didn’t mean to upset anyone.  When that happens the best thing to do is apologize right away.  We practice using the calm voice to say sorry for what happened.  I really emphasize to students to not just say sorry, but to say exactly what they are sorry about.  Calm voice is also heavily emphasized so the apology sounds real.
  • Talk It Out- I teach the kids that there are two parts to Talk It Out.  Step 1. Tell the other person how you feel using an “I” message.  Ex. “I feel upset that you cut in front of me in line,” or “I feel sad that you took my toy from me.” Step 2. Tell the person what you would like to happen to solve the problem.  Ex. “Can you please go behind me in line,” or “Can I please have my toy back.”  Once again, using a calm voice is heavily emphasized. *In 2020 I did not include using an “I” message in the video, but it is something we encourage the students to use.

Apologize and Talk It Out review 2020 video-

Lesson 8-  Big Reaction/Small Reaction review.  We review how we want  Big reactions are yelling, screaming, crying, kicking/hitting, whining, and pouting. We review the 4 small reactions I want them to try using at school; a shrug, a quiet sigh, snapping their fingers, or saying “oh well,” or “maybe next time” in a calm voice.  I also encourage the students to come up with their own small reactions.  In first grade we also role-play different classroom problems that come up and using small reactions in those situations.  The students generally find this lesson very amusing and enjoy showing off their small reactions.  This is an easy lesson to adapt for home.

Big reaction small reaction 2020 video-

The following lessons utilize a virtual zones of regulation room that I created in 2020. Please click on this link to access the rooms.  My Zones of Regulation - Google Slides

The Zones lessons in first grade and kindergarten are very similar, however, in first grade we go much more in-depth when discussing our emotions and calming strategies.


Lesson 9: Zones of Regulation part 1.  I introduce the idea of the 4 zones of regulation: blue, green, yellow, and red.  I equate each zone to an energy level (instead of an emotion).  Blue zone is low energy, green zone is just right for being calm, focused, and learning, yellow zone is too much energy for focusing/learning, and red zone is out of control.  I explain the red zone to the students, but I also explain that I expect them to be able to stop themselves from getting into the red zone at school most of the time so we don’t focus much on that.  This lesson emphasizes that there is nothing wrong with being in the blue or yellow zones, but that when it is time to work or time to listen that we need to get ourselves back to the green zone so we can focus. *This lesson uses slides 1-5 from the virtual zones rooms. Click on the cartoon Mr. Kramer in slide one to hear the lesson and then click on the people and cat in slides 2-5 to see examples of people in the different zones.

Lesson 10: Zones of Regulation part 2.  This lesson introduces different strategies to move from the blue zone to the green zone and the yellow zone to the green zone.  As a group we watch some short videos that show different strategies to try and then we all practice them together.  I encourage students to try out a lot of different strategies to see what works best for them.  I also remind them a lot that they are responsible for noticing what zone they are in and doing something to get into the green zone when it is time to focus, not their teacher or another adult.  This lesson also introduces the virtual calm room I created so that teachers and students can visit that room whenever they want. *This lesson uses slide 7 in the virtual zones room and the virtual calm room. Click on the different pictures to see videos of strategies for moving into the green zone.

               Virtual Calm Room-Calm Room - Google Slides

Lesson 11: Zones of Regulation part 3. This lesson finally connects emotions to the different zones.  We click on different emotions and see 3 adults and my cat Fiona demonstrating that emotion and then students are prompted to guess at what zone the emotion is in.  If there is disagreement on what zone the emotion is in, we discuss as a group and talk about how much energy different students feel like they have during the emotion.  This lesson encourages more self-reflection and a reminder that we are all different and it is okay if we feel like we are in a different zone for an emotion than other people, as long as that self-reflection is happening.  *This lesson uses slide 6 from the virtual zones room.  Click on the different faces to see examples of that emotion.

Lesson 12: Child Safety Matters Part 1.  Please go to the child safety matters page for more information. Child Safety Matters Lessons - Ginther Elementary School (

Lesson 13: Child Safety Matters Part 2.  Please go to the child safety matters page for more information. Child Safety Matters Lessons - Ginther Elementary School (

Lesson 14: Flexible Thinking Part 1.  I talk to the students about what it means to be flexible and we discuss how it can mean both how something or someone moves (ex. stretchy) or that it can mean how we think and behave when something doesn't go the way we want.  I then read the first half of the story My Day Is Ruined by Bryan Smith.  I focus on the character's big reactions in the story and if that is actually making him feel better, and we discuss how using flexible thinking to make the most of something helps us to stay calm and focus on the things in the day we enjoy instead of what we don't like that we have no control over.  The lesson ends by going over the four steps to use flexible thinking:

  1. Take a deep breath
  2. Realize some things are out of your control-If the thing you are upset about is out of your control, move to step 3.
  3. Change your plan- Come up with a way to make the most of the situation.  You don't have to love your new plan, but figure out a way to get through the moment by making the most of it and getting to the next part of your day.
  4. Accept the change- Don't focus on how you didn't get to do what you originally wanted, just try to enjoy your new plan as best as you can and move on with your day.

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