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9 Amazing Ideas to Teach the Importance of Social Emotional Learning in Your Classroom

Teachers know the importance of social emotional learning in our classrooms. We know that social emotional learning skills greatly affect our students and their ability to pay attention, learn new concepts, and interact with their peers. And it’s so important that your classroom supports students in learning these social emotional skills! So, how can our classroom support students with this important learning?

Today I’m sharing 9 ideas you can try out in your classroom to help teach the importance of social emotional learning to your students. (My favorite idea might be the very last one – so make sure you read to the end!)

social emotional learning activities

(Looking for fun and engaging social emotional learning activities for your classroom that are planned, low-prep, and ready to go? Click here to check out the bundle!)

Supporting Social Emotional Learning In Your Classroom

I’m so excited to share these ideas with you! They are simple but effective – you can use them with your students to help support their social emotional learning skills throughout the school day.

1. Feelings Chart

Talking explicitly about feelings is so important for emotional regulation. Many children need practice with recognizing and identifying their feelings. Having a feelings chart posted in your room can help students be more mindful of their emotions throughout the school day. 

I love this anchor chart version, which is large enough to make it an interactive activity! Any time you want to practice this skill with your whole class, have your students put a sticky note next to the emotion they’re feeling. You can also post the feelings chart somewhere where students can easily refer to it throughout the day.

2. Children’s Books

Children’s books are undoubtedly one of the very best tools for teaching students about the importance of social emotional learning skills. As students get involved in the story, they relate to the characters. Then they’re more likely to remember the importance of social emotional learning skills later, when situations come up in their own lives. I like to refer back to some of our favorite characters, and say things like “What would Chrysanthemum do right now?” or “Do you remember what Piggie did when she was feeling this way?” 

self regulation of learning

I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite social emotional learning books right here. These are highly engaging but also full of teaching moments!

3. Calm-Down Strategies

One of the most important social emotional learning skills to teach children is how to self-regulate. When students are extra wiggly or extra emotional, it’s very hard for them to focus in class. I recommend creating a set of strategies for calming down that are acceptable in your classroom. Review these regularly with your students, so that they are familiar with their choices. Then when you have a student who is needing some help calming down, you can offer these strategies.

I love having a visual for the strategies, so that students can see them and point to what they need. You can also turn this into a learning game and have students help sort the strategy cards onto the chart!

4. Calm Corner

Having a special place in your classroom where students can go to calm down can be very helpful for social emotional learning. There are lots of choices for what can go in your calm corner – from fidgets to stuffies to visuals. Just make sure you set rules for when and how students can go to the corner. Here are some of my favorite calm corner set-ups:

5. Modeling

Modeling is a simple but powerful tool that we can use to help our students understand social emotional learning skills. As situations come up for you during the day, you can model certain strategies or behaviors for your students. Seeing these skills in action helps students with understanding and applying these skills. Some examples of this might be: 

  • “Wow, I’m feeling very overwhelmed from this noise. I’m going to take some deep breaths to calm myself down.”
  • “I was feeling upset this morning, so I decided to try to be mindful of my emotions. When I thought about it, I realized I was sad because I didn’t get to say goodbye to my husband this morning. So I wrote him a note to give to him later and now I feel better.”
  • “I’m feeling really tired all of a sudden. I’m going to have a drink of cold water to help wake up. At recess, I’m going to eat my protein snack to help my body.”
  • “I think I said something to my friend that hurt her feelings. I’m feeling bad about it now, so I’m going to make sure I apologize the next time I see her. I’m also going to give her a drawing to make her feel better.”

6. Games

You can even turn social emotional learning into a game! For example, you could make up scenarios and have students act out apologies. Or you could make a deck of cards with different calm-down strategies and have students draw a card and practice that strategy. Here is a set of cards that’s a fun way to practice different ways of setting boundaries in various scenarios.

7. Brain Breaks

Including brain breaks and movement breaks is especially helpful for social emotional learning. The truth is, we ask a lot of our students throughout the day! Little breaks between lessons can help students reset their minds and bodies and prepare for the next thing.

Some fun ways to have a short break can be:

  • Singing a song that has some movement to go along with it
  • Doing some quick yoga positions 
  • Watching a GoNoodle or a short movement YouTube video

8. Learning Crafts

If you’ve been here for a while, you know I love using crafts to help students learn and practice new concepts. So of course, I think crafts are the perfect tool for practicing the importance of social emotion learning skills. Here are some of my favorite social emotional learning crafts for kids:

9. Puppets

If you want to instantly increase engagement – bring out the puppets! I love using puppets throughout the school day to add some fun to different lessons. So yes, I do have a special social emotional learning puppet…

social emotional skills
Rocco helps us learn about the importance of social emotional learning!

His name is Rocco the Raccoon, and he comes to read us social emotional learning books or to ask the students for advice on social situations. My students adore Rocco. And his visits give them the chance to do some critical thinking around social emotional topics.

The Importance of Social Emotional Learning For Students

Social skills seem to be evermore important for us to teach in schools. The more we can infuse these topics regularly into our day, the better! I hope these fun ideas inspire you to do this important social emotional learning work with your students.

Which idea are you going to try first? Tell me in the comments!

Resources for you:

social emotional learning
social emotional learning activities
self regulation of emotions
classroom culture

Articles for you:

9 Amazing Children’s Books For Self Regulation In Learning Environments

The Philosophy For Classroom Management That Changed My Life

6 Easy and Effective Classroom Management Tip Ideas For When Your Class Is Out of Control

Why Social and Emotional Learning Is Essential for Students

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