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SEL Lesson Ideas-Providing Consistency Between Home & School for Kids

December 2, 2022
  • Previously, in Part 1, we've discussed: Why it is important to maintain consistency between home and school for children's social-emotional learning.
  • In Part 2 we'll see how to provide consistency between home and school for children's social-emotional learning with practical tips and activity ideas.

In the spirit of setting children, families, and educators up for success this holiday season, here are five ideas that can be implemented in a classroom with a group of children or at home amongst family members to incorporate emotions into everyday learning and exploration!

Five Social-Emotional Activities for Children & Families

Activity #1: All About Me Self-Portrait Collages

All About Me Collage

Art activities that allow children to express themselves freely can help with their development of positive sense of self. 

Put out a mirror, construction paper, and art materials of your child’s choice.

Guide your child to look at their face in the mirror and use the art materials to create a self-portrait. 

As your child creates, ask guiding questions to support them in thinking about their interests, likes, and dislikes such as: 

  • What is your favorite/least favorite color? 
  • What is your favorite food/least favorite food? 
  • What do you like learning about? What do you not like learning about? 

Connect your child’s responses to emotions by discussing how our likes and interests might make us feel cozy emotions like happiness, excitement, pride, or love, while our dislikes might make us feel prickly emotions like sadness, anger, frustration, or fear.

You can even discuss your own personal interests, likes, and dislikes to help your child understand that everyone is different, but differences are what make us unique!  

Explore the full version of this activity. 

Activity #2: Emotions Sensory Bags

Emotions Sensory Bags

Sensory exploration allows children to experience new materials and textures in a way that is process-based, open-ended, and conducive to creativity and problem solving.

Place images of facial expressions representing different emotions (we recommend Our Emotions Cards!) into Ziploc bags filled with body-safe paint. 🎨

Guide your child to use their hands to move the paint and reveal the emotion underneath.

As your child explores, use guiding prompts to help them label each emotion: 

  • What do you see? I see a smile! Can you show me a smile?
  • That shows me that you are feeling happy.
  • I see a different emotion now. Can you push the paint so we can see it? 
  • I see a frown and tears, which tells me that feeling is sad. 

Connect your child’s reactions and responses to causes related to the activity. Different sensory experiences may make children feel happy or excited, but it also might make them feel sad or scared.

🔃 You can even swap out materials in the sensory bag for extended learning. 

Explore the full version of this activity. 

Activity #3: Pause & Play Emotional Music and Movement

Pause and Play Emotional Music and Movement

Music and movement are great ways to support children in appropriately expressing different emotions. Activities that pair emotions with music and movement can also help children build the connection between what different sounds might make them feel and how they can express these feelings through body language.

🎶 Select several songs with different beats, tempos, and keys (major or minor). Play the songs and guide your child to express what they are feeling using their facial expressions and body language. 

As your child moves, use guiding prompts such as: 

  • This song is soft and slow, which makes me feel calm. Does it make you feel calm? 
  • How can you show me that you are feeling calm with your face and body? Can you move slowly? 
  • This song is loud and sounds like thunder, which reminds me of feeling angry. Can you show me an angry face? What could you do with your body to show me that you are feeling angry? 

This activity can also serve as a regulation technique! Support your child in switching their movements depending on the tempo of the song.

  • Can they go from dancing to a fast song to a slow song?
  • What do they need to slow down their bodies?

Incorporating regulation techniques into activities can help children internalize strategies that they can use the next time they are experiencing a prickly emotion. 

Explore the full version of this activity. 

Activity #4: Colorful, Emotional Reactions

Colorful, Emotional Reactions

Science experiments are a wonderful way for children to explore how ingredients react with one another, and these reactions often come with a slew of emotional responses – fear that the reaction will create a loud noise, surprise from a result that was not expected, and excitement about what will happen next.

➕ Add food coloring, baking soda, and vinegar to clear cups to create colorful reactions!  

Throughout the activity, ask your child questions such as: 

  • Let’s make a hypothesis or a prediction. What do you think will happen when I add the vinegar? 
  • Which color should we start with? What happened? 
  • What feeling does the red reaction remind you of? It reminds me of anger. 

Connect the colorful reactions to your child’s emotional reactions. Use your child’s natural reactions to the experiment to connect to the cause-and-effect of what happens when materials are combined, and how this relates to when a situation causes us to experience a feeling. 

Explore the full version of this activity. 

Activity #5: Emotions in Pictures

Emotions in Pictures

Books are incredible resources to help children explore social situations, resonate with different characters, explore expressions of emotions, and begin to understand the big world of feelings.

If your child is younger, use books that show age-appropriate depictions of emotions. Using a mirror, guide your child to explore and express each of the emotions shown in the book (here is a list of baby face books).

If your child is older, use a book that explores more complex themes that children can resonate or relate to (we suggest Theo’s Deliciously Different Dumplings by Dr. Donna Housman).  

As you explore each page of the book with your child, ask guiding questions such as: 

  • What do you see on their face? I see a big smile with teeth. That shows me that the character is excited. Can you show me an excited face? 
  • Let’s make an angry face in the mirror. I see that your eyebrows are scrunched together and that you have a big angry frown on your face. 
  • What do you think that character is feeling? What about their face lets you know that they are feeling frustrated? 

📖 If you are reading Theo’s Deliciously Different Dumplings, we suggest using the Guiding Questions in the back of the book to further discussions with your child about emotions.

🔃 You can even extend this activity by encouraging children to draw what they think each emotion would look like! 

Explore the full version of this activity.

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