Back to School Transition Lesson for 3-5

New SEL lesson helps students navigate difficult waters of back-to-school transition.

As you head back to school, there is a lot of uncertainty. This past year has been anything but predictable. Both teachers and students have faced new challenges and grown in new ways.

This new transition back to school can be difficult, as students and teachers learn to adapt to a new school environment and experience new emotions and feelings.

Last week, we took a look at a new lesson meant to ease that transition for K-2 students.

Today, we’re going to zoom in on a similar lesson for students in grades 3-5.

This lesson, “Beginning Again,” can be found in Lesson 34 in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade curriculum.

The purpose of this lesson is to help students transition back into school by addressing feelings that have experienced and by expressing what they need to feel safe and supported.

Let’s dig in!


Emotion Flash Cards

The lesson begins by asking students to identify their emotions using the interactive screen. It is important that they be given the opportunity to talk about how they are doing, with an emphasis on their emotions and feelings.

Community Gathering

This screen reinforces building community and trust while transitioning back to school.

Students will be asked to think about what they need to feel safe and supported in class.

If students are at home, you may ask them to journal their responses to the prompt.

This song introduces how to manage your feelings when bad things happen. After listening to the song a few times, discuss the lyrics of the song, and identify ways to manage your feelings when bad things happen.

You can ask students:

Why do you think we should stick together when bad things happen? What does “stick together” mean?

Discussing What Happened

This screen reinforces building community and trust while transitioning back to school. Ask students, “Take a moment to think about what has happened. How are you feeling?” Tell students that any way that they have been feeling is okay. Like our song said, we all respond differently.”

This screen addresses and defines three tough subjects: pandemics, natural disasters, and states of emergency.

For the start of this particular school year, you may wish to address the pandemic prompt.

Take Care of You

This screen focuses on self-care.

Remind students of the following: One of the most important things you can do is practice self-care. When you take care of yourself, you become more available to help others who are having a hard time.

Remind students that being available to others is one of the aspects of a safe and supportive classroom.

Discuss self-care strategies that are listed on the screen by clicking each icon. Which strategies will students incorporate this school year?

Trust Chain

In this activity, students are asked to share with the class what they need to feel safe and supported in their classroom community.

Click the COMMUNITY and TRUST button to define each word.

If you are in a classroom setting this year, consider creating a Trust Chain for your classroom. Take a colored or regular sheet of paper and answer the question, “What do I need to feel safe in our classroom community?”

If you are at home, you may wish to encourage students to grab a piece of paper and hold up a link when talking.


Remind students that this week we have been talking about building trust and community while transitioning back to school.

As you listen to the audio, ask students to reflect on their first few weeks back at school.


*Facing school closure due to COVID-19? Find tips on distance teaching and free, ready-to-use resources at