Social emotional learning is an essential component of today's education landscape. Before we can expect children to succeed academically, we must first equip them with the social-emotional skills needed to manage their emotions and interact with their peers.

As school counselors we are responsible for SEL instruction through our class lessons, small groups, and individual sessions. There are many topics included in social emotional learning, but three main components are social skills, friendship, and self-control.

Social Skills - Social Emotional Learning Activities for Elementary School

I love to teach social skills! Some students need more explicit instruction like how to start a conversation or how to respond when they lose a game, while others need to learn how to navigate social nuances like reading body language and perspective taking.

To teach social skills I love to use activities like role play, scoot games, and expected behaviors card games.

Friendship - Social Emotional Learning Activities for Elementary School

Friendship is an essential social emotional learning skill. My favorite way to teach friendship is in a group setting.

I love to use a garden themed friendship group like this one to discuss how students need to initiate and nurture their friendships. For older students, I like to focus on communication, listening skills, and conflict resolution.

An interactive friendship class lesson or board game is another fun way to practice making and keeping friends. And who doesn't like pizza? This cute craft is a great way to discuss the qualities of a good friend with younger students.

Self-Control - Social Emotional Learning Activities for Elementary School

Lastly, self-control is a must have topic to cover in your social emotional learning curriculum. I recommend teaching and reinforcing self-control at all three tiers of counseling. Start with a self-control class lesson where students assemble a self-control toolbox full of coping strategies.

Next up, implement a self-control small group for students who need a little more support. This could be geared toward primary students and impulse control strategies or it could dig deeper and focus on healthy decision making with upper elementary students. At the most intense level of intervention I like to do one on one counseling session to practice using a social filter.

Check out my three tier self-control bundle here.

Teaching social skills, friendship, and self-control is a great place to start when planning your SEL lessons for the school year.


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