1st Grade Lesson on Respect: What If Everybody Did That?

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What If Everybody Did That?: A 1st Grade Lesson on Respect

I absolutely love the book What If Everybody Did That? by Ellen Javernick! For those of you who aren’t familiar with the book, it centers on a boy who makes some seemingly minor bad decisions, such as throwing trash out of the car window and taking a lick of icing off of a wedding cake. Each time the boy does one of these things, an adult asks him, “What if everybody did that?” The following page then depicts what would happen if EVERYBODY did what the boy did {i.e. if everybody littered, the streets would be completely filled with garbage, and if everybody took a harmless bit of frosting from a wedding cake, the entire cake would be ruined}. The illustrations in this book are fantastic, and the children really seem to enjoy it. Keep reading to see how I use What If Everybody Did That? as a basis for my 1st grade lesson on respect.


I begin the lesson by reading the book to the class. I have the students help me tell the story by saying out loud, “What if everybody did that?!” whenever an adult in the book says it. This makes the story more interactive and reinforces the phrase with the children.

Next, I write the word ‘Respect’ on the board. I ask the students what they think respect means, and I write their answers on the board as well. We talk about respect together, including the ways we show others respect.


Then, I ask the big question: Who should we respect?  The students typically say things like parents, teachers, and police officers, but eventually, one student {in most cases} will say the answer I’m looking for, which is EVERYONE. Let’s face it, we’re not going to like everyone we ever meet, and we certainly don’t have to be friends with the people we don’t particularly care for, but all people deserve to be treated with respect. We talk about what would happen if everybody did that. What if everybody treated everybody with respect? I personally agree with my 1st graders that the world would be a much better place.

To finish out the lesson, I let the students role play some of the pages from the book. For example, I’ll have one student talk while I am talking, which is mildly distracting, and then I’ll have the entire class talk while I am talking, which is total chaos. After each scenario, we discuss the differences and relate the experience back to the book, to respecting others, and to making good choices.

I think this lesson also give the teachers a phrase to use when a child is doing something disrespectful. They can simply ask the child, “What if everybody did that?” in order to initiate a discussion on the behavior.

Buy the book here

*Amazon affiliate link

I hope you all enjoyed this lesson! Remember to like The School Counselor Life on Facebook! When the page reaches 50 likes, I’ll be sharing a freebie on the blog to celebrate!

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