20 Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) Activities for Middle School

1. Empathy mapping: Students create empathy maps for different individuals, helping them understand and appreciate other people’s perspectives and feelings.

2. Gratitude journal: Encourage students to maintain a gratitude journal, reflecting on the things they are thankful for and the positive experiences they’ve had each day.

3. Emotion charades: Students take turns acting out different emotions while their classmates guess what emotion they are portraying.

4. Goal-setting: Have students set personal goals, both short-term and long-term, then discuss the steps they can take to achieve them.

5. Emotional thermometer: Students use an emotional thermometer to identify and express their feelings at different times throughout the day.

6. Conflict resolution exercise: Create role-playing scenarios where pairs of students must work through disagreements or conflicts using effective communication skills.

7. Appreciation circle: Establish a regular time for students to share their appreciation for one another by offering compliments or expressing gratitude for acts of kindness.

8. Random acts of kindness challenge: Encourage students to perform random acts of kindness within the school community and discuss their experiences during class meetings.

9. Team-building games: Foster collaboration and communication through team-building activities, like group puzzles, trust falls, or other cooperative games.

10. Mindfulness meditation: Teach students mindfulness techniques, such as deep breathing or guided meditation, which can help them manage stress and improve focus.

11. Emotional vocabulary activity: Prompt students to brainstorm synonyms for commonly used emotions, expanding their emotional vocabulary and awareness of the nuances in feelings.

12. Personal strengths inventory: Lead a discussion on personal strengths and have students identify their unique abilities and how they can leverage them in various situations.

13. Feelings art projects: Challenge students to express their emotions through creative outlets like drawing, painting, or collage making.

14. Active listening exercise: Teach students effective listening skills by practicing paraphrasing and asking follow-up questions during partner conversations.

15. Resilience-building activities: Host workshops or sessions focused on building resilience and coping techniques, such as learning about growth mindset or practicing self-compassion.

16. Emotional support network: Have students create a list of people they can turn to for emotional support, including family, friends, teachers, and counselors.

17. Peer mediation training: Implement a peer mediation program to teach students how to resolve conflicts and promote a positive school climate.

18. Social awareness movie clips: Use movie clips or TV show scenes to prompt discussions about social awareness topics, like empathy, prejudice, or inclusion.

19. Identifying triggers: Help students recognize and understand the situations or factors that can trigger strong emotions or reactions, then brainstorm healthy strategies for coping with them.

20. Reflection and journaling: End each week with a reflection session where students write their thoughts and feelings about the week in their journals, promoting emotional expression and self-awareness.

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