Social emotional learning with ‘The Bad Seed’

The Bad Seed, a picture book by Jory John

Teachers: Living through a pandemic has made social emotional learning (SEL) critical this school year — our students have been through a lot! One way to bring SEL into your reading block is by using a book like “The Bad Seed,” written by Jory John.

“The Bad Seed” introduces a seed with a reputation for being bad. His dark past has crushed his spirit and his attitude towards life. Midstory, the seed decides to change and turn his life around! Sure, he is not perfect and still makes mistakes, but he is making a conscious effort to be a better person. At the end of the story, the seed even overhears others say, “He’s not all that bad anymore,” when referring to him. He smiles.

Class Discussion

This story creates a great class discussion. First, students can talk about why people can be rough around the edges. We don’t always know the story behind every “bad seed.” Additionally, you can discuss reputations and how we can avoid stereotyping people we don’t really know. Finally, you can talk about ways we can all be “good seeds” or work on improving ourselves.


A third-grade student works on the good seed activity

There is also a very fun and FREE activity that can be done with this story on Teachers Pay Teachers.

I have my third grade students write down three ways they can be a “good seed” on a piece of notebook paper. I edit their writing, and they write their final piece on the activity template. If you are going to display these, print out your template in cardstock.

It is neat to see the students make the seeds look like themselves, too!

What other discussions or activities do you think would pair well with “The Bad Seed”?

The good seed activity sheet, completed by two students.

About the author

headshot of woman smiling with brown hair wearing a green lace blouse.Marissa Will is the mother of two toddlers, Olivia (4) and Logan (2). Writing was her first passion: she’s a freelance writer and a Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication alumna. Will is currently educating the future leaders of tomorrow: She has spent the past eight years teaching third grade with a master’s degree in elementary education from Northern Arizona University-Yuma.

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