What’s the mood at your school this time of year?

Try 12 days of social and emotional learning to make the season more positive!

[Part one of three blog posts]

Now that we’re well into December, most of us are feeling the squeeze of holiday obligations and expectations. Some people have financial anxiety during this seasonal spend-fest. Others feel left out if they have different traditions. A few may be missing loved ones and many feel lonely.

For students, this may the first time they’ve experienced some of these stressors. Spending a bit of time each day focused on self-awareness, empathy, and inclusion can help counter-balance this.

We curated 12 social and emotional learning exercises to help.

Our website offers dozens of teacher-led and student-led activities to assist with social and emotional learning (SEL) and promote a positive school climate. We curated a list of 12 that could be especially useful during the holiday season, but these activities can be used all year long!

All were developed in collaboration with the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and were designed to meet specific CASEL competencies. Our goal is to help bridge the gap between how students and their peers feel in school and how they want to feel. You can learn more about inspirED and the science of social and emotional learning on our website.

The four activities profiled here range from 10 to 60 minutes each.

 Rose – Bud – Thorn
This quick exercise helps students discuss positive things that have happened to them recently, things

they are looking forward to, and things that they need help with in the next week using the words rose, bud, and thorn as metaphors. Students share their thoughts with the classroom and strategize in pairs about how to overcome obstacles and reframe them as opportunities. Activity time: 10 minutes

Seven Questions
After reading an inspirational quote, students will jot down quick answers to seven questions that are designed to prompt contemplation of places and activities that make them happy, positive qualities that they and other people have, and things in life for which they are grateful. Then students are asked to reflect on their answers and look for commonalities. Activity time: 10 minutes

Motivational Self-Talk Book
Students will learn about positive self-talk, develop personal phrases that they find motivational, and make small booklets that include these self-talk statements (that third part is optional). Supplies could include construction paper, staples, markers, pens, stickers, glitter, magazines, etc. Research shows that positive self-talk can help us to manage our thoughts, feelings, and energy and motivate us to perform well in whatever we’re doing! Activity time: 60 minutes

Speed Dating with Purpose
Each student will be paired with another student in the class, and then one member of the pair will rotate to another partner every 90 seconds to have rapid-fire discussions. Students are encouraged to talk about their passions and things in their lives that have meaning. Activity time: 10 minutes

We have eight more social and emotional learning activities to highlight and we’ll be profiling the next four in our next blog post.

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Recap of activities one through four:

  1. Rose – Bud – Thorn
  2. Seven Questions
  3. Motivational Self-Talk Book
  4. Speed Dating with Purpose