Listen to the podcast version:
30 Emotional learning activities for elementary age children, by grade level.
Research has shown social emotional skills are just as important for your child’s success as academic skills.
These skills help your child build healthy relationships, manage emotions appropriately, and make responsible decisions.
We are going to talk about some fabulous social emotional learning activities you can do at home that target different elementary age groups.
What is social emotional learning?
This may be a step backwards for many, since you already “know” what SEL is.
However, what it is, is the foundation.
Lately, the very definition has been “played” with and “massaged” to stand with political platforms.
SEL is not a political platform. I
f you want all of the details, research, and definitions, please go to my article dedicated to just Social Emotional Learning!
In a nutshell, Social Emotional Learning is just 5 things (yup, this is it).
Responsible Decision Making
What are the benefits of my child participating in Social Emotional Learning?
Seriously, you are busy.
Whether you homeschool and are considering the many different curricula choices or whether you are looking at the windows of after school-time, there just never seems to be enough…time.
You want to reach to your child with valuable and worthwhile teachings.
Studies have shown that Social Emotional Learning Activities not typical academic pursuits are playing a crucial role in student mental health, self-image, and overall child well being.
Improved Social Skills
SEL activities help children grow in areas such as communication, cooperation, and conflict resolution: all valuable workplace and relationship skills.
Reduced Stress Levels
When our data shows anxiety in children at an all time high, discovering a way to reduce this is especially important.
Many emotional development activities focus on relaxation, breathing techniques, mindfulness, and self-reflection.
All of these have been found to lower stress levels in children and adults alike.
How do we helper children become more resilient?
This is a question asked again and again (and a blog topic coming out December 11, 2023 with activities!).
Social emotional activities can give your child the ability to cope with adversity and a toolbox (if you will) for ways to bounce back from set backs.
5 Tips for Creating Successful Social Emotional Learning Activities at Home
Even if you do some research and preparation to find fabulous Social Emotional Learning Activities, you may not get the “umps” you wanted from them.
Here are some tips to get the most from your SEL activities at home.
Set Clear Goals
May of these activities are fun and not intended to be a “lesson.”
However, each does have a goal.
Friendship Bracelets, for example, are a craft and lots of fun to make.
To give this more SEL power, you will want to set your goal clearly on what it means to be a friend, what characteristics do you look for or want in a friend?
Understand your goal for the fun activity so that you stay focused on what you want to achieve.
Will Grandma be home that day?
Will the next door neighbor be dropping by at the time you have planned for this activity?
Children and adults can benefit from these activities.
Let’s face it, Self Awareness is the “first level” of SEL and I have met many adults who simply are not self aware…at all. ????
Social Emotional Learning can be a difficult topic at times, you are talking about feelings at the very first level.
What are you feeling? Why do you feel this way? Emotions can sometimes be unpleasant.
Learning to navigate conversations and resolve conflicts in a respectful manner is incredibly difficult at the best of times.
Your child will need to be able to look towards you to lead them through and to stay positive when the area they are focusing on can seem daunting.
SEL is like SEX Talks
I like planning Social Emotional Activities.
I like knowing my goal.
I was the “sex educator” in my home.
It would have been easier if I could have always planned those conversations as well.
Both are crucial during the development of our children.
Neither are a “one and done” type of activity or conversation.
Some can be planned, yet some of the best, most memorable, and most meaningful are the ones that are spur of the moment that are brought on by an outside catalyst.
Know the five Social Emotional Learning Objectives.
Know the skills within each of them.
Watch for opportunities when you are able to teach, counsel, or turn an activity into a “wow, this is kind of like…” moment.
There are numerous benefits to participating in Social Emotional Learning activities with your children at home.
I applaud you for being aware of what SEL is and recognizing that you can make this your own.
To ease the transition from knowledge that SEL exists to what it is to I want to do some Social Emotional Learning Activities at home, I have put together a list of great activities you can do at home by grade level.
Keep in mind, many of these can be done at different age levels and they can be repeated.
You can also add to them to make them a little more poignant and age appropriate for older children.
Feelings Collage: Create a collage using pictures, words, and colors to represent different emotions
Daily Emotional Check in: Teach your child how to use the collage daily for an emotional check in.
Other members of the family can use it as well to encourage open conversations about feelings about their day.
Emotions Charades: Take turns acting out different emotions while others must guess which emotion is being portrayed.
Yoga for Kids: Follow along with an online yoga program designed for children to promote mindfulness and relaxation.
Emotions Memory Game: Create a memory game with cards featuring different emotions and play together.
*Take this up a step by having the emotion image on one card and the written emotion word that matches it on another, which encourages reading skills.
Introduce Collaborative Strategy Games: Help your child with early strategy and problem solving skills through games.
I love Hoot Owl Hoot! for this age group.
For a list of games I love and recommend go here.
Kindness Chain: Cut strips of paper and write acts of kindness on each one, linking them together in a chain.
*Take this further for older children: only create the link when you have completed the act of kindness, so it becomes a kindness chain of fabulous acts completed.
Emotion Sorting: Collect pictures of people showing different emotions and sort them into categories.
Positive Notes: Write kind and encouraging notes to family members and leave them around the house.
Mindful Coloring: Use coloring books or printable sheets to practice focus and relaxation.
(Did you know that there have been studies on happiness?
Coloring is one of the activities that supposedly brings people happiness-babies and puppies are on the list as well.)
Gratitude Jar: Decorate a jar and write down things that you are grateful each for each day to fill it.
Emotion BINGO: Create a Bingo Game with various emotions and have children identify and mark the corresponding emotions.
Feelings Sculpture: Use clay or play dough to sculpt different emotions and talk about them.
Friendship Bracelets: Make friendship bracelets and discuss the qualities of a good friend. Did the color selection evoke specific emotions?
Empathy walk: Take a walk, where you will see people, and encourage your child to observe others and talk to you about the emotions they see in others.
Emotional Weather Report: Draw a weather symbol on a chart to represent how you are feeling each day and discuss why.
Emotions Detective: Watch TV shows or movies and discuss the emotions and motivations of the characters (what is the body language or “hints” your child is picking up on to determine the characters’ emotions?).
Kindness Challenge: Create a kindness challenge board and encourage children to perform small acts of kindness each day.
Bring the family together!
Get a daily activity or thought to bring your family compassion towards each other.
Mindful Listening: Choose a calming piece of music and practice active listening, discussing the emotions the music evokes.
*Take this a step further and find many different types of music, listen, and determine the different emotions evoked.
This is why I use different music for free writes.
Emotional Art Expression: Use various art mediums to create artwork that represents different emotions and explain the process or why each art represents which feelings.
Feelings Check In: Create a daily routine check in where children can share their emotions safely with a family member.
Problem Solving Scenarios: Present hypothetical scenarios and encourage children to brainstorm solutions and consider the emotions involved.
*We often desire a specific outcome based on our values, which are evoked by emotions, it is all like a big web.
Growth Mindset Puzzles: Solve puzzles or brain teasers together to encourage a growth mindset and problem solving skills.
Reflection Collage: Create a collage using images and words to reflect on personal growth and achievements.
Mindful Walks: Take mindful walks outside, paying attention to the sights, sounds, and feelings of the environment.
Peaceful Resolution: Have your child write down the problem they are having (this works great with siblings).
Then write down possible solutions to this issue.
They can write down advantages and disadvantages to each solution.
The idea is to get a resolution to the problem so that each side feels “heard” and justly addressed.
Emotion Journaling: Keeping a journal is recommended for many reasons as children age.
If they have a place to record their secrets, anguish, celebrations, and thoughts and then also become used to the emotions that these events bring up in them, they will see patterns in events and emotions and possibly positive outcomes.
Mindful Breathing Exercising: Practice various breathing techniques to find ones that work for your child that they are able to use regularly for a moment of calm.
Perspective-Taking Activities: Engage in discussions that encourage seeing situations from different perspectives.
Positive Affirmations: Create together or find positive affirmations that your child can use daily.
*I created 36 designed to be simple and to the point and not “cheesy” as some, in my opinion, can be.
GET THOSE HERE! ❤️
Empathy Stories: Learning empathy is a big part of SEL and it is something that most parents want their children to learn.
It can be hard to teach.
Reading books or short stories that explore characters with situations that evoke feelings of compassion and understanding is one of the best ways to do this.