Classroom Activities for Dealing with Everyday Feelings
Social-emotional learning (SEL) is becoming more and more necessary in mainstream curriculum. Not only is SEL valuable in its own right, it also can positively affect learning and achievement. According to an Education Week story
about the “State of America’s Schools” report from Gallup, “School leaders should not neglect the social and emotional factors that help students thrive, and they should empower teachers so that they are more engaged and effective in the classroom. The right leadership and the engagement of teachers and students are all one very important ecosystem.”
The big concern, as we know, is that between classrooms overflowing with children and the pressure to meet state standards, little to no time is left for SEL. But there are times during the early childhood or elementary school day when SEL can take place without having to create full lesson plans or units. SEL can become an organic part of the day, not just something that gets squeezed in. SEL helps kids understand and handle their feelings, and it can lead to greater academic engagement.
Here are a few ideas.
1. Greeting Circle Activity
Many elementary classrooms start the day with circle time or a morning meeting. This is a perfect space and time to fit in something that increases engagement and connection among peers. The Greeting Circle is a quick exercise that promotes appropriate greeting, eye contact, friendly exchange, and relationship building. Organize students into an inside circle and an outside circle, facing each other. Starting with a greeting gesture that is comfortable for students, such as a handshake, high five, or fist bump, have them look their peers in the eye and greet them. Then have them talk for 15 to 30 seconds, depending on the age of your students (this activity may not be appropriate for kindergarten or first-grade students), about a topic of your choice. Some good examples for early in the school year might be, “What was the most fun thing you did over the summer?” “What are you most looking forward to in __ grade?” Have the inner circle rotate to the next person after the 15 to 30 seconds and repeat the discussions until everyone has had a chance to greet one another.
on the Free Spirit Blog.