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It’s Elementary: Easy SEL Implementation for Grades 1–5

It’s Elementary: Easy SEL Implementation for Grades 1–5

We know that social-emotional learning (SEL) is important in setting a strong foundation for success in elementary school, but where or how do you begin to incorporate it into your school day? BASE Education’s elementary courses are designed to be developmentally appropriate, and they deliver learning using student voice through short videos and teacher-guided group learning. Let’s unpack a quick-start, three-phase SEL implementation and explore how to explicitly integrate SEL into your lessons to support whole-learner needs.

Quick-Start Implementation in 3 Phases

To support ease of implementation, BASE Education can be broken into grade-level starter pathways made up of five courses per grade level. These pathways are designed to meet grade-level SEL standards alignment and help teachers narrow down and address each CASEL competency area with developmental needs in mind.

Phase 1: Implement 5 grade-level-specific starter courses via whole-class, teacher-directed instruction using teacher guides

We begin with tier 1 prevention, teacher-led courses that are universally accessible and relevant. No additional student setup is required for these group experiences. Utilizing this approach gives you time to work on a more nuanced implementation specifically tailored to your community and to meet student and teacher needs now with content rooted in mental health and wellness principles and underscored by clinical research.

Phase 2: Use the 5 grade-level-specific starter courses and more as you target fall school needs

Continue implementation of tier 1 prevention courses. As the school year progresses and you hone specific school and student needs, use the five grade-level-specific starter courses, and then expand your selection to include areas that you determine align with these needs. Continue utilizing courses that correlate to the evolution of your school year, allowing for changes as unexpected events occur or as you identify a new need. The BASE Education course catalog and getting started resources with pacing guides can assist with this planning.

Phase 3: Continue video courses in grades 1–4, and start student-led courses in grade 5

As students age, each starter pathway rolls out more nuanced learning, ending with courses that best support the middle school transition. Courses can and should be repeated as students grow and develop. Grade 5 can be used as a bridge year by adding the four grades 4–6 student-led, interactive courses— Bullying and Cyberbullying, Digital Safety, Getting to Know You, and Keeping Calm—for a deeper dive into these subjects and as readiness for the larger 6–12 curriculum. 

SEL Embedded in All Subject Areas

Lesson Planning

Integration does not have to be a complete rebuild of what you already do; we are adjusting our lens to ensure that we address our whole young learners, explicitly incorporating and building these rewarding skills. Check out CASEL’s SEL-Integrated Sample Lesson Plans to view SEL simply and clearly addressed within each core subject area of science, language arts, social studies, and mathematics.

In CASEL’s examples, you see an academic focus and an SEL focus. As you create your lesson objectives and correlate to academic standards, add a section for SEL objectives and standards. Think through where the valuable points are within your lesson to reinforce specific competencies. Walk through the lesson and plan as you always do, adding this overt SEL layer to make the learning even more impactful.

A Lesson in Action

An accessible example of SEL integrated with academic content is a read-aloud for grade 1 using Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst.

If you have completed the grade 1 BASE Education starter course, Coping Strategies, for example, students will recall and use this knowledge as you introduce and read the book. Learning how to cope is important because we learn how to handle our big feelings in healthy ways. We know that big feelings are normal and that coping skills can help us to calm down and find solutions.

Examine and read the book with your class, identifying words to describe how Alexander might be feeling to guide and correlate discussion. Students will share ideas and will certainly have their own connection points to Alexander of when they had their own bad days! Part of social-emotional learning is figuring out what to do when we feel wronged or when we feel that an injustice has occurred. Kindness and relationships are important, and healthy communication about our needs and feelings helps.

Different activities can accompany this read-aloud to deepen understanding. Addressing academic standards, students could work together to build a timeline of Alexander’s day, learning how to create a sequence of events to support reading comprehension and problem-solving. Students could also produce a word wall that demonstrates the emotions exhibited in the stories, tying in to both academic and SEL objectives.

Prevention and Intervention

BASE Education courses are oriented around two categories: prevention (which is powerful for all students in order to be successful) and intervention (deeper tier 2 and tier 3 needs that should be directly addressed when spotted). BASE Education courses are designed to work within the structures and frameworks that your school or district is already using. The program is intended to complement positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) and multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS), and it also supports whole-group learning aligned to thematic school goals and character education.

Learn more about Edmentum’s partnership with BASE Education, offering SEL curriculum and assessment, with over 100 courses to support the whole learner in grades 1–12.'s picture
Sian Reilly

Sian joined Edmentum in 2019 and serves as a Senior Marketing Specialist. A former teacher and administrator, Sian believes that individualizing education for the whole learner with quality academic and non-academic curriculum and assessment can powerfully transform students, campuses, and communities. Sian is passionate about connecting educators with content to meet their specific needs in an ever-evolving education environment.