Students have had a tough year and on top of what they’ve already faced, there’s still uncertainty for what the future will look like for the upcoming year. School leaders have made safety a priority while also making sure students are coping with the impact COVID-19 has had on their personal and educational life. This focus has made social emotional learning concepts even more prominent in schools and classrooms, and federal funding is available to help address learning loss and mental health.   

Benefits of Social Emotion Learning 

Social emotional learning provides students the skills to cope with their emotions, as well as: 

  • Develop healthy identities 
  • Achieve personal and collective goals 
  • Feel and show empathy for others 
  • Establish and maintain supportive relationships 
  • Make responsible and caring decisions 
  • Improve grades and attendance 

Use these simple tools to help your students acquire these skills in the classroom! 

Tool 1: EmojiED Seat Cushions 

These durable floor cushions provide students with a soft place to sit, while also giving them a way to talk about emotions in class. Faces include happy, sad, bashful, tired, surprised, and scared. The synthetic wool filling is comfortable, making this a great tool for extended breakout sessions. The rainbow colors are inviting and make organizing color-coded groups easy. 

EmojiED Seat Cushions - students express emotion

Activity Idea: 

Have your students grab a cushion, put them in an evenly spaced circle, and pick one to sit on. The first student will get up, look at the emotion on the cushion, and tell a story about a time where they have felt that emotion. For an example, a student picks up a happy emoji cushion. The student would then share a story of what made them feel happy recently! An alternative for this activity is having a student give an example of what they can do to make someone feel happy. 

Tool 2: ReflectED Fidget Balls 

Another great tool to help students express emotion is fidget balls! Differently colored balls with distinct emoji faces represent common emotions and feelings, so teachers can identify a student’s mood based on the ball they are holding. The colors and emoji faces encourage social and emotional learning (SEL) and help students to understand and express how they feel. They also provide an outlet for pent up energy, allowing students to constructively fidget at their desks for increased concentration. 

ReflectED Fidget Balls - students express emotion

Activity Idea: 

Have your students grab a ReflectED Fidget ball. Call out examples that bring out different emotions. An example of this activity is “How would someone feel if they tripped and fell?” Then, the student with that ball would toss it to the leader. If you don’t have enough balls for each student, have the student without a ball call out examples. 

Tool 3: ReflectED Banners 

These colorful banners have expressive emojis to easily identify feelings! This helps students to learn to articulate their current state of mind using short descriptions of each emotion. Matching the word to the face, young learners will come to associate the chart’s four emotions (Happy, Sad, Frustrated, Angry) with their own feelings and behaviors. Then, instructors can encourage SEL to help students manage feelings in constructive ways for more success in the classroom.

ReflectED Banner - students express emotion

Activity Idea: 

As students are walking into the room, have them high five the emotion on the banner they are currently experiencing. Then at the end of the day have the students do the same. This is helpful for students to actively acknowledge their current state of mind, which is a great skill for everyone to have! 

Try these activities with your students to encourage expressing emotions in (and outside of) your classroom! 

Resources: 

https://www.nu.edu/resources/social-emotional-learning-sel-why-it-matters-for-educators/