Project Cornerstone
(Social Emotional Learning)

Parent Resource Portal

Project Cornerstone is a YMCA-led community initiative with the mission to create an environment where adults support and value all youth so they grow up feeling valued, respected, and known.  Project Cornerstone teaches how to engage caring adults in kids' lives, foster the development of social and emotional competency in youth, and support the establishment of healthy relationships between adults and children.  This is a wonderful 3 year rotating program that will build on the work our teachers and counselor are already doing in the classroom to make our students feel valued, supported, and cared for by our community. 

We've created this resource to share what the kids are learning and ways to spark conversations around the home.

We love our parent volunteers!  See "How to Volunteer" below on how to be a caring adult for our kids.

How to Volunteer

Fox is building a Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) Parent Volunteer Team! 

This parent volunteer team will be partnering with Principal Carter and the YMCA to roll out Project Cornerstone.   Training is provided and no previous teaching or classroom experience needed.  Our FOX SEL Volunteer Leads are here to guide you along the way with materials, lesson plans, and support!  

Your Role Would Be:

Goals of the YMCA Project Cornerstone Program:

Feedback from parent volunteers is they learned just as much if not more than the kids and deployed the lessons in their own (adult) lives and jobs.

If you are interested in learning more about joining the volunteer team, please complete our Google Form:  click here

For more information on YMCA’s Project Cornerstone, click here

For assistance: email 

2023-2024.  Topic: Connect with Empathy 

May 2024 - Active Listening (Listen and Learn (TK/K) or I Wish You Knew (1st-5th))

Listen and Learn (TK/K) by Cheri Meiners, M.Ed. (click the link for the read along).  

 Listen and Learn teaches children what listening is, how to listen, and why it’s important to listen. This book talks about ways to listen in a positive manner and what to do when someone doesn’t listen to you. 

For ways to engage your student in a discussion on topics from this book, here are some ideas:

I Wish You Knew (1st - 5th) by Jackie Azua Kramer (click the link for the read along)

This book provides opportunities for conversations about compassion, active listening, and perspective-taking.  The lesson themes were listening to understand and empathy. 

For ways to engage your student in a discussion on topics from this book, here are some ideas:

April 2024 - Global Citizenship and Kindness  (Polite and Kind (TK/K) or BIG (1st-5th))

Polite and Kind (TK/K) by Cheri Meiners, M.Ed. (click the link for the read along).  

This book focuses on manners such as courtesy, respect, and kindness. The book helps children learn that good manners help everyone get along and do kind acts. This book works well with the ABC book, Have You Filled a Bucket (See December 2023 and May 2023). 

For ways to engage your student in a discussion on topics from this book, here are some ideas:

BIG (1st - 5th) by Coleen Paratore (click the link for the read along)

The focus of this book is to learn about becoming a BIG person, a person who thinks BIG about the world and their place in it. Students will look within themselves to see how they can tap into their personal power to become a valuable member of their world (aka - how they can be BIG) as they look for ways to contribute through acts of service.

For ways to engage your student in a discussion on topics from this book, here are some ideas:

March 2024 - Growth Mindset (The Dot)

This month, we are focusing on the topic of growth mindset. In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. 

Volunteers read The Dot” by Peter H. Reynolds (click the link for the read along). The child in this story dislikes art class because she is convinced she can't draw. Her teacher gently encourages her to begin with a single dot and her creativity takes off. The story celebrates the creative spirit and “growth mindset” in everyone.  

For ways to engage your student in a discussion on topics from this book, here are some ideas for questions you can ask: 

February 2024 - Be True To You (Understand and Care (TK/K) or Eyes That Kiss in the Corners (1st-5th))

Understand and Care (TK/K) by Cheri Meiners (click the link for the read along).  This book focuses on explaining empathy to children.  It teaches how to identify emotions and to understand how another person feels.  In order to be able to understand and care, children need to be able to name, identify, and recognize feelings.  Knowing and recognizing how others feel will help children develop friendship skills. Learning to walk in someone else’s shoes promotes respect and caring for others. 

For ways to engage your student in a discussion on topics from this book, here are some ideas for questions you can ask: 

Eyes That Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho (click the link for the read along) (1st - 5th).   The author writes this book from her personal experience.  The book promotes students’ understanding and appreciation for their heritage at a young age.  When people know more about their own culture, they are better able to understand and appreciate the culture of others.  In this story, a young girl notices that her eyes look different from her friends’ eyes. Instead of their big, round eyes, her eyes “kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea”.  She realizes that her eyes are like her mother’s, her amah’s, and her little sister’s and they are all beautiful.

For ways to engage your student in a discussion on topics from this book, here are some ideas for questions you can ask: 

January 2024 - Zones of Regulation (When Sophie Gets Angry, Really, Really Angry (TK/K) or Clovis Keeps His Cool (1st-5th))

Our Social-Emotional Learning Parent Volunteer Team read either When Sophie Gets Angry, Really, Really Angry (TK/K) or Clovis Keeps His Cool (1st - 5th).

When Sophie Gets Angry, Really, Really Angry  (TK/K) by Molly Bang (click the link for the read along).  This book tells the story of a little girl named Sophie, who learns that it's okay to be angry. For children, anger can be very upsetting. In this book, the students saw what Sophie does when she gets angry and also what she does to calm her body down. 

Clovis Keeps His Cool by Katelyn Aronson (click the link for the read along).   The book is about the proverbial bull in a china shop.  Clovis (the bull) has been working on his temper. However, when rivals from his football days tease him, Clovis faces a big challenge to keep his cool and is unable to use his coping tools. After he loses his cool, Clovis focuses on reconciliation and giving second chances to his rivals. Offering second chances can lead to building new relationships. 

For the month of January, we focused on emotional regulation while using a framework called “Zones of Regulation”. The BRSSD counseling team and the YMCA both use this framework. When students can describe their emotions effectively, they are better able to self-regulate and also help their peers self-regulate their big feelings.   We used a mood meter to help students state which color zone they believe they are in.  It also helps them recognize what color zone other students are in. 

For ways to engage your student in an “emotional regulation” discussion, here are some ideas for questions you can ask: 

1 - When you feel worried, what can you do? 

2 - When you feel that you are getting very angry, what are some things that you can do to help your mind and body? How can I help you when you feel angry? 

3 - When you see that a friend seems down/sad, what can you do to help?

We also reviewed Bucket Filling from last month.

December 2023 - Bucket Filling Month

What is Bucket Filling? 

Bucket Filling is the concept that everyone has an invisible bucket. When it’s full, we feel happy and joyful. When it’s empty we feel sad or angry. When someone “dips” in our bucket, or when we dip in another’s bucket, we lose happiness from our bucket. We can use a “lid” to cover our bucket and protect it from dippers. Ways to use our lid include: asking someone to stop a behavior or to stop using certain words, walking away, asking an adult for help, and more.

Who is Bucket Filling? 

All students, teachers, and staff are bucket fillers. So are parents! 

Grades TK - 2 are focused primarily on filling their buckets, filling others buckets, and being aware of dipping. 

Grades 3-5 are focused on all areas of bucket filling: buckets, dippers, and lids. 

Where Can I Learn More? 

November 2023 - Inviting and Including (Ruby Bridges)

This month's topic was "Inviting and Including."  This lesson addresses relational bully behaviors. Taking the time to get to know and value another person allows one to appreciate the uniqueness of an individual's personality.

Volunteers read Ruby Bridges: Goes to School by Ruby Bridges.  You can read the book aloud here.  Ruby tells her extraordinary story of being the first Black child to integrate a New Orleans school following the 1954 Supreme Court case Brown vs Board of Education, which ordered school districts in the South to end the policy of racially segregated schools. In 1960, six-year- old Ruby Bridges walked through an angry crowd and into school, changing history.  Ruby’s impassioned words, filled with love and grace, serve as a moving reminder that “what can inspire tomorrow often lies in our past.”  These books tell the story of Ruby’s courage and remind us all that the struggle for justice continues.  The book was read this month to coincide with Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day on November 14.

For ways to engage your student in an “Inclusion” discussion, here are some ideas for questions you can ask: 

1 - Why do you think Ruby was brave when she joined her new school? 

2 - How can you be brave when standing up for what you believe is right? 

3 - Ruby’s teacher really helped welcome her to the new school. How can you be welcoming to others?

October 2023 - Inviting and Including (The Invisible Boy/Gustavo the Shy Ghost)

This month's topic was "Inviting and Including."  Volunteers read either “The Invisible Boy” by Trudy Ludwig or "Gustavo the Shy Ghost" by Flavia Drago (lower grades) which focuses on the hurt that exclusion can cause and the positive outcomes of including others. If you want to learn more about the book, you can watch the Invisible Boy Read-a-loud online or Gustavo the Shy Ghost Read-a-loud online.

For ways to engage your student in an “Inclusion” discussion, here are some ideas for questions you can ask: 

1 - If you see someone playing or eating lunch by themselves, what can you do to include them? 

2 - What are some nice things you can do or say to a new student? 

3 - Have there been times when you felt excluded? How did you feel? What are some ways you can ask for help? 

2022-2023 (Inaugural Year).  Topics: inclusion, diversity, problem solving, respect, and conflict resolution.

May 2023 - Bucket Filling

This month's topic was "Bucket Filling."  The books varied by the grade (see below) but the concept was everyone walks around with an invisible bucket.

Bucket Filling: You fill a bucket when you show love to someone, when you smile, make someone feel special or do something kind. A bucket filler is someone who says or does nice things to other people. Bucket fillers are those who help without being asked or give hugs and compliments.

Bucket Dippers: Bucket dippers use their words and actions to disrespect and tear others down, which dips into the bucket of the giver and receiver and takes away positive feelings. 

The Lid: For some grades, we also discussed our "lid."  We “use our lid” to protect and keep the happiness inside our bucket.

Your class may have gone over some "Bucket Filler Guidance":

3 Rules of Happiness (Lower Grades)

    10 Facts of Living (Upper Grades)


Lower Grades: Fill A Bucket: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Young Children

Middle Grades: Have You Filled a Bucket Today?  A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids

Upper Grades: Bucket Dippers and Lids.  Secrets to Your Happiness.

Additional resource:  The Bucket Filler website is 

April 2023 - Resilience and Growth Mindset (The OK Book)

This month's book was The OK Book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal.  You can listen to it here.   It goes through a series of things a kid tries to do and is "OK" at and that's just great.  

This book focuses on resilience. Resilience is an ability to bounce back, recover from adversity or return to your original form. We can help youth develop resilience. Resilience is built upon 7 building blocks: competence, confidence, support, positive values, contribution to others, coping strategies and personal power. The confidence and support of caring adults gives children the freedom to explore, try new things and find out what they like to do. 

Belief in the ability to change and grow is called a growth mindset. In this lesson, asset building adults will be spark champions and help youth identify and cultivate a growth mindset. A growth mindset allows a person to view challenging times as temporary. Using the building blocks of resiliency as a cornerstone, youth will be better prepared to overcome the challenges of new and difficult experiences.

The goal for this lesson is for students to:

• Develop a growth mindset that embraces trying new things; being “OK” with enjoying,

while pursuing mastery.

• Find joy in discovering new sparks and interests.

• Learn from mistakes to develop resiliency.

• Turn I can’t (reactive) attitudes into I can (proactive) attitudes.

Proactive people say:

o I’ll try it

o I’ll do it

o I can do better if I try again

o Let’s look at all of our options

o I choose to

o There’s gotta be a way

March 2023 - Friendship (Enemy Pie)

This month's book was Enemy Pie, by Derek Munson.  You can listen to it here.   

This book tells the story about a boy, the narrator, who believes he doesn’t like the new kid, Jeremy. He uses mud thoughts to perceive that Jeremy is his enemy. He asks his father for help. His father shows how a caring adult can help create opportunities for friendships to grow. Thanks to the special recipe for enemy pie (spending time together, getting to know each other, and discovering similar interests), their friendship grows and blooms. In the end, the narrator and Jeremy forgive their past behaviors. They realize that they share common interests and enjoy doing things together. Their friendship grows and they learn the secret recipe to making friends. 

February 2023 - Finding Your Spark (Long Shot)

This month’s book was “Long Shot” by the famous NBA player, Chris Paul. In this book, Chris talks about when others did not believe in him and/or made fun of him. He also talks about how he had people in his life that supported him, which allowed him to pursue his passion. 

Our parent volunteers read this book, led a discussion, and completed a class activity. The topics included one or more of the following:  determining what brings them joy (“their spark”), calling on others to support them, how to support others during game time/play time, and positive sportsmanship. 

If you would like to extend the learning with your child at home, you can watch Chris read his book here and utilize some or all of the following discussion questions: 

Discussion Questions: 

January 2023 - Emotions (Today I Feel Silly)

Our Social-Emotional Learning Parent Volunteer Team read Today I Feel Silly by Jamie Lee Curtis. (You can watch the read-a-loud with your child here.) This book is about a girl who experiences and describes her wide range of emotions. When students can describe their emotions effectively, they are better able to self-regulate and also help their peers self-regulate their big feelings. To support student in naming their emotions, our volunteers will be using the concept of a “Mood Meter” during the lesson.

The mood meter helps students state which color zone they believe they are in, and also helps them recognize what color zone other students are in as well. In addition, parent volunteers will be discussing what actions students can take when they find themselves having overwhelming emotions.

If you would like more information about supporting your child with emotional intelligence, I recommend the book Permission to Feel by Marc Brackett. He is the director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. You can also search for him on YouTube to see some of his previous talks. 

November/December 2022 - Caring Adults (Molly Lou Melon)

In the book Molly Lou Melon, by Patty Lovell, Molly is constantly picked on by a bully at her new school. But, with the help of a caring adults (Grandma), she demonstrates how positive energy can not only chance negative behavior, but also create a welcoming and inclusive environment.

The classroom activities focused on acknowledging our negative self-talk and then focusing on our positive self-talk to keep us focused on our own special attributes and building resilience.

As a follow up to our lessons, you can engage your child(ren) by reading the online book with them and/or using the following handout (grades K-3and 4-5).

October 2022 - Different Cultures (René Has Two Last Names)

During the month of October, a volunteer came to your student’s classroom and read René Has Two Last Names by René Colato Laínez. The focus of this book provides discussion on the significance of our names and identities, the process of adapting to a new culture and language, and the challenges of making friends.   It also discussed how diversity makes us stronger, how to use friendship boosters to build and strengthen friendships, and  how to identify and celebrate individual’s personal identities. 

By teaching our children the importance of accepting others and sharing our cultural heritage, we create a stronger community where all students feel safe and know that they belong. We hope you will talk with your child about your cultural heritage. Below are some suggested questions you can ask your child to continue the discussion at home.