What Makes a Good Friend?

Students read texts focused on what it means to be a good friend, and examine key details about characters through discussion and writing, helping to facilitate building friendships in the classroom.

Unit Summary

As part of the upgrade to Fishtank Plus, this unit was revised in October 2020. See which texts and materials have changed as part of the revision in this guide to our 1st Grade text adjustments. If you are looking for the previous version of this unit, you can find it in our archives here.

In this unit, students read a collection of texts focused on building an understanding of what it means to be a good friend. This unit, in connection with beginning of the year culture-building activities, will set a strong foundation for building social-emotional awareness within students as they navigate making new friendships within the classroom. This unit will also serve as the launch unit of the year-long theme, what it means to be a good person within a community. Over the course of the year, students will deepen their understanding of what it means to be a good person and grow up in different communities, part of which involves being a good friend.

This unit will serve as the foundational unit for creating a strong Read Aloud and discussion culture. Building on what students learned in Kindergarten, students will practice asking and answering questions about key details, particularly characters, in partners, individually, and through discussion. Students will also learn and practice strong habits of discussion, particularly structures for Turn and Talks, tracking, voice, and focused bodies. Additionally, students will be challenged to think about characters, what they are like as a person and what they learn in the story by noticing the details an author includes in the words and the pictures.

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Texts and Materials

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Core Materials

  • Book: The Day You Begin by by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by Rafael López (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2018)    —  AD980L

  • Book: Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns to Listen by Howard Binkow (Lerner Publishing Group, 2006)    —  AD460L

  • Book: The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2013)    —  680L

  • Book: Matthew and Tilly by Rebecca C. Jones (Puffin Books, Reprint edition, 1995)    —  570L

  • Book: Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell (P. Putnam's Sons, 1st edition, 2001)    —  560L

  • Book: Ruby the Copycat by Peggy Rathmann (Scholastic, 52850th edition, 2006)  

  • Book: Enemy Pie by Derek Munson (Chronicle Books, 736th edition, 2000)    —  550L

  • Book: The Sandwich Swap by Queen Rania Al Abdullah and Kelly DiPucchio (Disney-Hyperion, 2010)    —  570L

  • Book: The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi (Dragonfly Books, 2003)    —  AD590L

  • Book: Jamaica and Brianna by Juanita Havill (HMH Books for Young Readers, 1996)    —  470L

  • Book: Big Al by Andrew Clements (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, Reprint edition, 1997)    —  740L

  • Book: Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2012)    —  530L

See Text Selection Rationale


This assessment accompanies this unit and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.

Unit Prep

Essential Questions


  • What does it mean to be a good friend?




ashamed brave clever coincidence copycat enemy fierce foolish invisible include insults influence jealous judge kindness lonely misunderstood proud satisfied

Related Teacher Tools:

Content Knowledge and Connections


Being a good friend means:

  • You tell the truth and do not lie to your friends.
  • You do and say kind things to each other.
  • You are proud of each other's differences and do not make fun of one another.
  • You do not copy each other.
  • You include others.
  • You do not judge people. You ask questions to learn more.
  • You do no judge based on looks, clothes, or skin color.
  • You get to know people before you decide they will not be your friend.
  • You are not jealous of each other.
  • You work together to solve conflicts.

Lesson Map


  • The Day You Begin



Explain what the author wanted the reader to learn.


  • Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon



Describe why Molly Lou Melon acts the way she does.

Describe how you are unique and how that helps strong friendships and teams.


  • Ruby the Copycat



Describe how Ruby’s feelings changed by asking and answering questions about character feelings.

Make connections to what it means to be a good friend and part of a strong team.


  • The Invisible Boy



Explain why the author ends the text by saying “Maybe, just maybe, Brian’s not so invisible after all” by asking and answering questions about character feelings and motivation.


  • The Sandwich Swap




Describe how the main characters change by asking and answering questions about character motivation.


  • The Name Jar pp. 1 – 13



Explain what Unhei is worried about and why she is worried.


  • The Name Jar — pp. 14-end



Describe what lesson Unhei learns.


  • Jamaica and Brianna



Explain what Jamaica and Brianna learn by asking and answering questions about character motivations and feelings.


  • Enemy Pie




Describe how the narrator’s relationship with Jeremy Ross changes by asking and answering questions about character feelings.


  • Big Al




Describe how Big Al’s relationship with the other fish changes by asking and answering questions about character motivation.


  • Matthew and Tilly




Explain what Matthew and Tilly realize and why by asking and answering questions about character motivations, feelings, and actions.


  • Each Kindness


Retell Each Kindness using key details from the story.


  • Each Kindness



Explain what Chloe learns and how she learns it by Close Reading a text.



  • All unit texts




Write an opinion piece about what makes a good friend.



Common Core Standards

Language Standards
  • L.1.1 — Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

  • L.1.1.j — Produce and expand complete simple and compound declarative, interrogative, imperative, and exclamatory sentences in response to prompts.

  • L.1.2 — Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

  • L.1.6 — Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, reading and being read to, and responding to texts, including using frequently occurring conjunctions to signal simple relationships (e.g., because).

Reading Standards for Literature
  • RL.1.1 — Ask and answer questions about key details in a text.

  • RL.1.10 — With prompting and support, read prose and poetry of appropriate complexity for grade 1.

  • RL.1.2 — Retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson.

  • RL.1.3 — Describe characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key details.

Speaking and Listening Standards
  • SL.1.1 — Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 1 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups

  • SL.1.2 — Ask and answer questions about key details in a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.

  • SL.1.6 — Produce complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation.

Writing Standards
  • W.1.1 — Write opinion pieces in which they introduce the topic or name the book they are writing about, state an opinion, supply a reason for the opinion, and provide some sense of closure.