It is often said by educators that students must “Maslow before they Bloom.” This phrase is about two very well-known people- Abraham Maslow; who was a psychologist that studied human motivation, and Benjamin Bloom; a researcher who figured out the process of learning mastery. Maslow focused on the social, emotional, and physical needs of kids and suggested that in order for students to learn, all of their other needs must first be met. This list of activities will help you do just that!
1. Mind Yeti
Mind Yeti is a wonderful resource that you can use in the classroom on a regular basis with kids of all ages, especially elementary learners. These research-based mindfulness breathing practices will help students focus, get oxygen flowing, and create a sense of calm in your group.
Learn more: Mind Yeti
2. Social Emotional Check-In
Daily check-ins are very helpful when you are working with kids, especially those who come from difficult backgrounds. It builds emotional learning skills because kids can identify their feelings and then teachers can address them as needed and get a sense of how everyone is feeling prior to beginning the day.
3. Personalized Greeting
Not everyone is comfortable with physical contact, but others thrive on regular hugs and friendly touch! Help students rid themselves of anxious feelings by giving them the option of how they can say hello to you each morning!
Learn more: Amazon
4. Taste Your Words Read Aloud
Teaching kids positive conversation skills are incredibly important, especially after they’ve had an experience where unkind words were shared. Books like this contribute to that culture of kindness within the classroom setting.
Learn more: Amazon
5. All Feelings Are Okay Read Aloud
Many kids are not taught that it is okay to have anxious feelings, strong feelings, or bad feelings. Because of this, they do not learn those helpful skills to cope with these feelings which can force them to find their own coping mechanisms that aren’t necessarily effective.
Learn more: Amazon
6. Positive Affirmations
Make positive affirmations a regular routine in your classroom. The phrase “speaking it into existence” holds true when you can create a positive classroom experience for children where they know they can do or be anything.
Learn more: Pure Star Kids
7. Morning Meetings
One of the best experiences for children in elementary school is the morning meeting. You can guide the meeting with premade discussion questions, lead with books about kindness, chat about family issues, or simply just check in to say hello.
Learn more: Tarheelstate Teacher
8. Show and Tell
Show and tell is a great way to build positive relationship skills among your students. It does more than just allow kids to show off their favorite things, it gives them communication skills, helps create a place for them in the classroom, and more.
Learn more: Kreative in Kinder With Crystal Radke
9. Compliments and Shout Outs Board
Have other kids and teachers leave little notes of kindness with this creative tool that gives students the opportunity to share and spread positivity. Children at elementary school level will enjoy the positive feedback and random notes of kindness to fill each other’s buckets.
Learn more: Head Over Heels Over Teaching
10. Conversation Starters
Encourage elementary school students to have meaningful conversations at lunch and practice healthy friendship skills by offering conversation starters for them to utilize. This will help them learn how to practice accountable conversation.
Learn more: Printablee
11. Emotions Paper Chains
This is a useful craftivity to use as a counseling tool. It doesn’t require any fancy materials, just some construction paper and a simple sentence frame that will get kids talking about their feelings. It works well for even the most challenging situations that require addressing.
Learn more: Hope 4 Hurting Kids
12. Sticks and Stones Demonstration
This visual demonstration is a brilliant idea to really help kids understand the effect that can actually have on others and serves as a perfect class lesson for elementary students.
Learn more: Teaching Muse
13. Practice Empathy Scenarios
Empathy doesn’t necessarily come easily for everyone. This classroom guidance lesson will help students who have no experience with empathy practice this skill and both see and hear what it would look like in practice.
Learn more: Proud to be Primary
14. Play the Gratitude Game
This is a fun activity for kids to play any time of the year to practice gratitude. Using the classic game of pickup sticks in a multitude of colors, students draw colors and then answer a question about the corresponding color. Can’t find any pickup sticks? There are plenty of other creative ways to modify this game!
Learn more: Teach Beside Me
15. Can and Can’t Control
Many times when a child is frustrated and their behavior escalates, it is because they are encountering a feeling or situation they can’t control. Have a conversation prior to meltdowns around this poster that shows what a person can and cannot control.
Learn more: Etsy
16. Make a Heart Map
Help students find out what makes their hearts happy and then let them share! Sometimes, all a kid wants is to feel is understood. By giving them this cute worksheet, you provide a useful strategy for building relationships and getting kids to share their stories.
Learn more: Proud to be Primary
17. Random Acts of Kindness Campaign
Help kids learn how to be kind and how good it feels to be kind with this extensive list of random acts of kindness. Let kids learn how to build positive relationship skills by helping others feel good!
Learn more: WCS Kids
18. Anger Buttons
This tool is perfect for helping kids identify what triggers their bad feelings or recognize things that frustrate them. With some guidance and practice, kids will begin to recognize anger prior to its onset and be better prepared to cope with those strong feelings.
19. Banish the Boo’s
Just in time for Halloween, this adorable printable will help kids recognize positive and negative thoughts so that they can be prepared to recognize and banish those self-negating ideas and build a better mindset.
Learn more: One Stop Counseling Shop
20. Zones of Regulation Centers
Help kids learn to identify feelings, triggers, coping mechanisms, and more with this complete printable set that helps them practice zones of regulation so they can be emotionally successful.
Learn more: He’s Extraordinary
21. Cool Down Printables
When kids are having a meltdown or struggling with their emotions, offer them one of these worksheets as a strategy to help them de-escalate their feelings. Laminate them for more durability.
Learn more: Rock It Mama
22. Cool Down Corner
Having a safe space in your classroom can be an incredible resource for students who need some time away from activities to help them refocus, de-escalate, and get back to learning. Offer breathing exercises, fidgets, and some other easy activities to help take little minds off of big problems.
Learn more: Kirsten’s Kaboodle
23. Trace and Breathe
Breathing is one of the number one ways to get hormones regulated and back down to a normal state when kids are experiencing strong emotions. This trace and breathe activity is perfect for kids of all ages but works especially well with younger kids because it’s simple.
Learn more: Beauty and the Bump
24. Inside Out Game of Emotions
What better way to learn about emotions than with a fun game? The movie Inside Out created by Disney forms the basis for this game as it is all about emotions.
Learn more: Social Work Toolkit