With the new school year quickly approaching, we will have to navigate the reality that the landscape of the classroom will look quite different than in years prior. While some students will continue with distanced learning, others will be returning to vastly changed classroom environments. In the midst of all of these changes, we have students who are processing a wide variety of emotions. Whether it be confusion, anxiety, frustration or sadness; students need a healthy outlet to express what they might not feel comfortable verbalizing. 

Incorporating Social Emotional Learning into activities and projects will perhaps be needed now more than ever to help students navigate their way through these new experiences and environments. Students, an adults alike, are adjusting to new norms for learning and adapting skills to maintain the social environment typically created within a classroom. In order to better support student’s mindsets and the growth of their social skills, below are some ways to incorporate student check-ins that promote their social and emotional well being using a range of our Framelits dies

Emotional Wellness

In the classroom, an adapted color wheel presents the perfect opportunity for a student to help identify feelings on a spectrum. For example, red zones could identify emotions such as fear or anger,  blue zones could express a student’s sadness or disappointment, a yellow zone could show their worry or excitement and a green zone could tell you they are happy or relaxed. 

Ultimately, the total number of color zones and what emotions fall into each category is best determined by what properly suits a given classroom. Die cut hearts or stars in various colors can be adhered to popsicle or cake sticks. These visible markers are one way to allow students to be able to communicate their emotional state to their teachers. By placing the colored object in a designated place on their desks or on an identified check-in board an adult can ascertain if a student needs additional support that day. For socially-distanced learners, a packet could be sent home at the beginning of the school year with die cut hearts for a student to hold up for their teacher at morning check-in. 

Responsibility

In uncertain times, teaching students how to be responsible for their tasks, choices and positive interactions is a great way to continue promoting social interactions and simultaneously foster a sense of ownership and independence within a student. Whether in the classroom or at home, a “Caught You Being Responsible" punch card is a great way to positively reinforce critical thinking and solution-driven actions both in and out of the classroom. For socially-distanced learners, their families can help out by punching holes when chores are completed, good decisions are made or when schoolwork is accomplished diligently. 

Relationship Skills

Another way for students to develop their social and emotional skills is through written notes of gratitude. Provide students with die-cut hearts (or any desired shape) and have them write notes of appreciation, kindness or encouragement to their fellow classmates, family, friends or front line workers. This provides an exercise for children to foster communication skills, expand their vocabulary and learn about empathy and kindness. These notes can be posted in the classroom as an inspirational activity or hung around the home as reminders for children to find things to be grateful for in times of hardship or change. 

There are a variety of activities that can be adapted to suit any grade level and help focus in on core areas of social emotional learning. For older students, journaling can provide a great outlet to explore various topics. Where as younger students might benefit more so from hands on crafts and artistic forms of expressing their emotions through storytelling. Ultimately, focusing activities and lesson plans to include SEL will benefit students in this time of transition and help foster lines of communication between students and teachers.

Supplies used in projects:

What do you think of these ideas? Let us know in the comments below and make sure to stop by our FacebookPinterest or Instagram pages to keep up with the Ellison Education team.