Social-Emotional Learning is important at every age. Even in elementary school, students should be learning skills to help develop their self-awareness, social and relationship skills, and decision making. Activities should be age-appropriate and challenge students to build their emotional intelligence.
Not only will working on SEL create socially strong and emotionally literate students, but it also helps to improve academic performance. Here is a list of 30 different activities that will keep elementary students engaged, while learning more about SEL!
1. Goal Setting
Improve growth mindset by working on actionable goal setting. This activity has students use a graphic organizer to create SMART goals. These positive goals will serve as a reminder of what they are working towards.
Learn more: Mrs. Winter’s Bliss
2. Game of Feelings
The Game of Feelings is a card game that helps children learn to manage their emotions. The game has children identify feelings and words in scenarios. It is low prep and a great resource to add to your emotional learning curriculum
Learn more: Childhood 101
3. Interactive Writing Activity
A great way to have students collaborate more is having a lower elementary partner with older students to read “The Recess Queen” and create a writing activity around standing up for others.
Learn more: 2nd Grade with Mrs. Dower
4. Bucket Fillers
How Full IS Your Bucket? These are activities to get students to give compliments to others. They encourage students to appreciate and give praise to their peers by writing notes and “filling” buckets of their classmates with positivity!
Learn more: Teaching Expertise
5. Feelings Thermometer
Have students work on different feelings and gauge them. Using the “Feelings Thermometer” students can tell “how hot” they are by using examples of what it looks like and then examples of how to deescalate themselves. Great resources for supporting behavioral goals!
Learn more: Coping Skills for Kids
6. Self Portrait
Community relationships are also an important part of SEL. Help to build your classroom community with a game of “I Has, Who Has”. Students will make a self-portrait and write about themselves and go around playing the game verbally.
Learn more: Curve Your Learning
7. Character Education
Use the book, “A Very Hungry Caterpillar” to teach about character development. Next, using the butterfly worksheet, students will write nice things about one another on each piers cutout.
Learn more: Carson Dellosa Education
8. Color Pages for Mindfulness
If you are looking for a quick mindfulness activity, use these color pages. With fun shapes and fonts, these color sheets have different positive messages on each.
Learn more: Develop Good Habits
9. Teach Integrity Through Arts and Crafts
If you are teaching students about integrity, this flower craft is a cute idea! Read the book, “The Empty Pot” then have students create petals, by writing ways they can show integrity on strips of colored paper and glue them onto the worksheet.
Learn more: Counselor Up
10. Mental Health Check In
A great way to check in with students during morning meetings or class meetings, this mental health check-in chart will let you know where students are when they enter your class. It can also be a great tool to see where your students move, feeling wise” throughout the school day.
Learn more: 3rd Grade’s the Charm
11. Self Control Cut and Paste Activity
Learning the social-emotional skill of self-control is important for academic success. This simple cut and paste activity will help students to work on improving this skill by modeling what they can say and think.
Learn more: Counselor Chelsey
12. Character Book Activity
Pair this character book activity with “The Good Egg“. The students will read the text and do writing with the activity has options for writing about being anxious or testing strategies.
Learn more: Creations by Kim Parker
13. Self-care Corner
A great resource for 1st and 2nd grade teachers is to have a self-care corner. Students can go to the corner to do a quick self-love/self-care activity of looking in the mirror and saying a positive affirmation or read a reminder about how to positive self-talk.
Learn more: Kirsten’s Kaboodle
14. Gratitude Journals
We all know our students need to have an attitude of gratitude! Get them to practice gratitude in their lives and help to build positive relationships with this journal entry activity. Each day for a week, students will write in their daily journal about one thing they are grateful for.
Learn more: Talking Tree Books
15. Scenario Activity
Students are going to be in uncomfortable situations and make mistakes. Use this scenario activity to have students turn examples of negative self-talk into positive self-talk!
Learn more: Momentous Institute
16. Graphic Organizer Discussion
If you are looking for an activity to go with the movie “Inside Out”, use this graphic organizer discussion activity. It gives kids a chance to talk more about different feelings. If you don’t have time to watch the entire movie, it also tells you about specific clips you can watch and discuss.
Learn more: Common Sense Education
17. Vision Boards
A fun way to practice self-love and goal life or academic goals is using a vision board. This vision board activity is in worksheet form, so it saves on time, but still allows students to go through the process of creating one.
Learn more: Carrie Elle
18. Kindness Bookmarks
Kindness bookmarks are an easy activity for a class librarian. Promote kindness through literacy and pair it with a read-aloud emotional learning book or put them in your SEL library section!
Learn more: Crafternoon Playdate
Art teachers can teach the skills of patience and perseverance, which are important emotional learning skills through art projects. This origami video series is an active learning technique to teach these skills and also can be used for cooperative learning.
Learn more: Jenny W. Chan – Origami Tree
20. Deep Breathing Exercise Cards
In these uncertain times, students may be more stressed than usual. Use these cards to teach breathing strategies. They are also a great addition to any calm-down corner for students to use as a resource to calm their anxiety or anger.
Learn more: The OT Toolbox
21. Conversation Cubes
Get students talking about their feelings with conversation cubes! You can modify these cubes to work around SEL subjects you are teaching about like appropriate ways to ask something or conflict-resolution strategies, like “When…I feel” statements.
Learn more: Teachers Pay Teachers
22. Beachball Games
Help students learn about fairness with a beachball game. In this activity, students will look at what makes each of them different and re-write rules that will make the game fairer.
Learn more: Drake University
23. Kindness Bingo
Using special bingo cards, play kindness bingo! Each card comes with a list of different ways to show random acts of kindness. Have students mark them off as they complete them. I great activity for the summer when students don’t have access to regular SEL lessons.
Learn more: Random Acts of Kindness
24. Emotions Snowman Craft
Recognizing facial queues in others is important in building healthy relationships and as a life skill. This snowman craft activity has students creating different faces that show varying emotions. You can also challenge students by giving them specific feelings words and have them try to draw them.
Learn more: Red Ted Art
25. Decision Making Activity
Guide students in learning how to make good day-to-day decisions and about the consequences of decisions through “In a Pickle”. Students will get cards where they are in a tough situation or “pickle” and have to make an appropriate decision.
Learn more: Teachers Pay Teachers
26. Emotions Vocabulary
Not all students have the vocabulary to accurately express their emotions. As adults, we know that ‘upset’ is much more different than ‘irate’. Using color swatches to show the connection between colors and the strength of the different feelings, add words to the cards as they grow in intensity. It also helps build better feelings vocabulary so they can better tell how they feel.
Learn more: Hope 4 Hurting Kids
27. Teach Courage
In This activity, the teacher demonstrates strength with a book and a piece of paper. Then the students hold a class discussion about the demonstration they witnessed. It will help students learn more about building courage and our “courage muscles”.
Learn more: Tarheelstate Teacher
28. Bulletin Board
If you need an activity to share with the larger community at school, try a bulletin board. A gratitude jar bulletin board allows students and staff to share things they are grateful for!
Learn more: School Counselor Blog
29. Self-improvement Activity
With this activity, students will focus on self-improvement. They will create a poster with mini-goals related to ways they can change and improve upon themselves to further academic growth.
Learn more: Worksheet Place
30. Sensory Mandala
Sensory items are great for calming students. Have them create this sensory mandala using found objects or craft materials you have and some pipe cleaners. Try to use a variety of textures that students can use as a sensory tool when their feelings are overwhelming.
Learn more: Kiddie Matters