As a teacher, you have an important role in helping foster your student’s emotional and social health. Engaging in therapy-related activities as part of a daily routine can help students develop emotional regulation and bolster their overall well-being. We have done the work for you and made it easy to find great SEL ideas and activities for your classroom! Check out these 24 fantastic therapy activities for students.
1. Talk it Out Basketball
A piece of paper, a hoop, and some simple discussion questions are all you need for this game. Stimulate conversation and boost social-emotional mindsets with a weekly Talk It Out Basketball game.
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2. Calming & Mindful Coloring
Coloring figures using intricate designs and patterns is beneficial for helping children calm down and regulate their emotions. Mindful coloring exercises are a fantastic way to create a sense of calm within the classroom.
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3. Practice Deep Breaths
Guided meditation helps children relax, regulate themselves, and improve their emotional state using breathing techniques and visualizations. Activities like these provide age-appropriate guidance to help students relax and regain emotional balance.
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4. Post Positive Affirmations
Develop a positive outlook through affirmations. Whether you choose to use individual affirmation cards, sticky note affirmations or use a set of affirmation posters like these, your students will benefit from regular reminders of what makes them special.
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5. Feelings Discussion Cards
It’s always good to help your students recognize and talk about their feelings. A good set of feelings discussion cards goes a long way in helping students navigate positive and negative emotions.
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6. Positive Self-Talk
Encourage positive self-talk through discussions and writing activities. Teach positive self-talk strategies one at a time, and practice using them. Give your students daily reminders to think positively. We love this positive self-talk mirror idea as a daily check-in activity.
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7. Mindset Activities for Children
Help your students develop a growth mindset, which is the belief that abilities and intelligence can be developed through effort and learning. Implementing purposeful growth mindset activities like these worksheets is a good way to promote goal-setting.
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8. Trampoline Therapy
Trampoline therapy consists of science-based exercises designed to boost motor development, a sense of calm, and increased concentration. Sometimes called rebound therapy, occupational therapists often use this technique with pediatric and adult clients with a wide variety of disabilities and additional needs.
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9. I Can Articulate My Feelings- Card Game
Help your youngest learners learn how to articulate their feelings with this fun card game. Students can use beautiful materials like these emotional cards to play a fun game of emotional charades.
10. Create a Safe Space
Having a calm-down corner is an excellent resource for students. The calm-down corner is an area of the room that serves as a safe space where students can retreat when they’re experiencing strong emotions. Soft pillows, calming colors, and helpful strategy posters help young learners through tough times.
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11. Look for a Child Therapist
Cognitive therapy is a great approach for children who are struggling with emotional difficulties, as it helps to reduce stress and educates them on new, productive ways of expressing their emotions and energy. This list of tips and tricks for selecting the right child therapist is very helpful.
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12. Why I’m Grateful Worksheet
This Gratitude worksheet can be used as a complementary exercise to the treatment or just to introduce the concept of gratitude. Reflecting on their blessings little ones become more aware of their positive emotions and outlook.
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13. Make Anger Monsters
Art can be a powerful tool to help children deal with a range of emotions. This activity has students create and write about their anger monsters to recognize strong emotions. What a great way to teach emotional regulation!
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14. Calm Anxiety through Collage
Grab some magazines and scrap fabric for this anxiety-reducing activity. Have anxious students make a collage with objects or places they find calming. Keep them tucked away for students to access when they need to combat strong feelings.
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15. Occupational Therapy Activities – Tracing
Occupational Therapists (OTs) assist children in honing the skills required to complete everyday activities. They provide support to children faced with physical, emotional, or developmental difficulties. An assortment of basic tracing activities benefits students by giving them additional opportunities to develop fine motor skills.
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16. Books with Emotional Learning Concepts
Many children think it’s wrong to have anxious feelings, strong feelings, or bad feelings. They haven’t developed the skills to cope with these feelings; often leading to inappropriate or explosive emotional outbursts. Books like Emily Hayes’ All Feelings are Okay are excellent tools to help your learners understand and cope with strong emotions.
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17. Craft a Calm Down Jar
Making “calm down jars” is another therapeutic activity. Fill a clear jar with warm water, glitter glue, and glitter, and let the kids give it a shake to watch the sparkles slowly sink. Viewing this scene can be incredibly calming and is a great activity for children to do when they’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Invite them to practice deep breathing and meditation while they watch.
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18. Make a Worry Box
Students with social anxiety disorders often struggle greatly with constant worrying. Have students decorate a worry box, and when they are worried about something, they can jot down their thoughts and place them in the box. Then, later on, the student and their parents or counselors can use their notes to promote positive communication.
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19. Bullet Journaling
The bullet journal is an organizational tool to aid in academic performance or serve as a place to write down and process feelings. It can be as simple or as elaborate as you like, and the writing process will serve as an easy anger-releasing exercise.
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20. Family Therapy
Family counseling is a type of therapy designed to identify and address issues that can disturb the functioning of a family. As a complement to child therapy, family therapy helps participants navigate a difficult time or address mental health concerns among the family group.
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21. Amazing Resources for Art Therapy
Art therapy is a form of therapy that helps individuals express and process their emotions, reduce stress, improve communication skills, bolster self-esteem, and promote mindfulness. While there are professional art therapists who can work with a student, we’ve also found a variety of amazing art therapy techniques for parents and teachers, like this heart map exercise.
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22. Communicate with a Piece of Candy
At times, a sweet treat can help you bridge a communication barrier. This therapy activity encourages adolescents within therapy sessions to share feelings and worries using candy as a conversation starter. Each color candy represents something that a student could talk about in a group therapy or counseling session.
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23. Empathy-Boosting Counseling Activity
Many students grow up in households where specific traits, such as empathy, have not been taught or deemed necessary. An excellent counseling activity to help students develop empathy is the Wrinkled Heart activity. This activity shows students how their words and actions can harm others. The hurt feelings heal, but the scars remain.
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24. Emotions Cootie Catchers
It has been found that origami can be beneficial as a mindfulness exercise. With this origami cootie catcher, kids learn to name their emotions, talk about what they are feeling, and work through self-regulation and maintaining control when they are upset.
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