5 Popular SEL Classroom Activities
While academic learning is certainly important, educators are increasingly understanding the importance of integrating Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) into the curriculum. Students who engage in SEL activities have been found to improve in their self-awareness, self-confidence, and interpersonal relationships. Students in SEL programs also saw a significant improvement in grades and attendance. Thus, it is no surprise that educators are striving to integrate SEL activities into their curriculum. With that in mind, here are five excellent SEL activities for the classroom.
1. Name the Emotion
This is a very easy and effective way to help students connect with their emotions. At the beginning of class, simply have each student call out the emotion that they are currently feeling. This helps you and other students know which feelings others are bringing to class and can help them better interact with peers based on these emotions. You can expand on this by having students spend a minute or two in quiet reflection about how their emotions will affect their participation in class.
This is particularly an effective exercise to use at earlier ages as it can help students learn to become more attuned to their emotions. It is easily incorporated into different lessons and does not take a large amount of time. It is important that you have worked to create a safe space in the classroom before implementing this activity.
2. Guided Journaling
The act of journaling can be very therapeutic, and guided journaling can be a great SEL activity that can be easily customized to fit into virtually any classroom. Consider utilizing a daily or weekly journaling prompt to help students reflect upon their social-emotional skills. You could ask students questions like, “When was the last time you felt angry and how did you respond?” or “Write about a time that you felt stressed and what you did to help yourself feel more calm.”
The prompts used can be made age appropriate, meaning that this is an SEL activity that can be used with any age group. Additionally, journaling helps improve writing skills through practice, meaning that guided journaling can serve to help students develop in many different ways.
3. SMART Goals
Teaching student about goal setting gives them a skill that can be used throughout life. Additionally, it helps meet the SEL skill of self-management. SMART goals are a particularly effective method of goal setting that can be understood by all age groups. This acronym stands for the ideal components of a goal: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
Build a habit of effective goal setting by having students set a specific goal for each major unit that is taught. Or expand the concept to their lives by having them write a few short-term and long-term goals. Be sure to review student goals to ensure that they understand the SMART concepts and provide feedback to help students grasp how to do this effectively.
Have you ever been a bit frustrated at the lack of ability of adults to engage in productive debate about disagreements? Consider teaching this to your class by facilitating debates about different topics. Here, you can help students practice important skills such as listening, articulating their points, and supporting an argument. You can also teach important concepts such as following the evidence and changing opinions when someone has a good argument.
Helping model debate can help your students to become more inquisitive but will also teach many SEL skills such as self-management, relationship building, and decision-making. Incorporating periodic debates related to classroom topics is an excellent way to help your students engage in a fun SEL classroom activity.
5. Mindfulness Exercises
An excellent SEL classroom activity is to help students learn to practice mindfulness. This concept relates to learning to focus on the present moment and can be particularly useful in helping de-stress and focus. Mindfulness can be taught in many different ways including guided meditation or simply breathing exercises.
This activity teaches SEL skills such as self-management, recognizing emotions, and learning to calm down. It can be particularly effective when used prior to a major test. However, mindfulness does not always have to deal with combating negative emotions. It can also be used to help students embrace happiness or positivity during a good day. It simply helps students learn to be in the moment.
With many benefits of SEL activities in the classroom, it makes sense to work to incorporate them into the curriculum as they help students begin to master a number of important life skills. For those wanting to better help their students navigate life and build skills, Shamrck can be a valuable resource to help students set educational goals and work to advance skills.
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