Welcome to the Social Skills Ideas Bank!
The Social Skills Idea Bank is a series of related posts, each dedicated to sharing strategies for teaching a particular social skill.
As teachers, our strength lies in sharing our ideas, experiences and strategies!
This is a growing list, and you are invited to contribute in the comments section. We hope you will, because there’s nothing like a good idea shared between teachers to make our jobs easier.
This post is about simple ways to guide students to manage big emotions in the classroom.
Let’s get started!
Time spent teaching social skills is time very well spent. Teaching your students to manage their emotions is a gift that will help them long after they leave your classroom. Not only that, but students’ ability to manage themselves will benefit everyone around them as well.
GROWING LIST of STRATEGIES
Use social stories to teach expectations explicitly in large and small groups. If possible, ask a child care worker or support staff to take a small group for this purpose. Use examples from situations that arise in class.
Role play as a group to explore social conflicts that arise in class, and demonstrate positive ways to resolve conflict.
CALM DOWN STRATEGIES
Make a class list of calm down strategies and post on the wall.
Review these with students regularly, and encourage each students to choose which one works best for them. Discuss when they are appropriate; for example, some are better for outside and some are better for inside. “Push the wall” is a big favorite in my room because students get to exert a lot of energy without having to go anywhere.
Practice deep belly breaths with your students so they know what to do when they are upset. This helps them take control of their own emotions, and calm down so they can make better choices and decisions.
There are a few ways to do this:
-Think of your belly as a balloon that fills with air and then empties slowly.
-Lay on your back and put a stuffed animal on your tummy. Breath deeply enough to make the animal go up and down.
CALM DOWN BINS
Create a “Calm Down Bin” so students can go to a quiet place to calm down. Include coloring, stuffed animals, squeeze toys, glitter bottles, fidget spinners, books, or music. Students can choose to use the materials in a quiet spot to help them calm down.
TIME TO TALK
Make time to talk with students individually about triggers and appropriate choices. This seems so simple, but makes a huge difference! While students are occupied, or during an outside playtime, start a conversation with particular students and let them know you are always there for help if they need it.
When talking about social stories or how to make good behavior choices, try to include examples of positive self-talk. This is a way to model for students what they can say to themselves when making those choices. For example, when students feel frustrated, they can use self talk this way:”I feel frustrated when I lose the game. I feel like crying or shouting. Those are not good choices. I can go use the calm down bin until I feel better. I can say “good game” and ask to play again. My friends will want to play with me again if I don’t shout at them when I lose.”
WRITE IT OUT
Use your journal time to write (or draw) about big emotions, and then share with the class if students feel comfortable doing so. This is a great way for students to see that we all share common emotions and sometimes struggle to manage them – even grown ups!
Explore mindfulness in the classroom. I have personally used a program called Mind Up, created by Goldie Hawn. This teaches students about self-awareness, optimism and gratitude. You can see more details here: Mind Up.com (Note: I am not affiliated with this program, but have used it with positive results.)
These are small periods of time where students can move around after sitting for a while. You can use action cards, such as “jump 10 times” or you can use music to dance on the spot. My class particularly loves short videos of popular songs that you can find my doing a google search for “Just Dance Videos”. These are best for whole class brain breaks because they are loud and fun!
Yoga is great for stretching muscles and calming down. You can use cards for specific poses, or you can find some videos by doing a google search for “Go Noodle Yoga”. To see my students’ favorite yoga video calledCosmic Kids Yoga Adventure, click HERE.
RELEVANT READ ALOUDS
Read the class books related to big emotions: how everyone feels them and how to handle them. This is one more way to let kids realize that we all share big emotions, and that it’s normal. It opens the dialogue for students who didn’t know how to ask, and creates reference points (story characters) to relate to.
Click the image below for a list of specific book suggestions.
*NOTE: Keep in mind that some students may need extra counselling services. Reach out to your school counsellors and support staff for ideas.
Do you have ideas to add to this list? Add them in the comments!
Resources for Teaching Social Skills: Click HERE to see all of them on one page.