There are many ways to promote social-emotional learning in the classroom! One of my favorite ways is through games and play! Check out these awesome Amazon finds that you can play with your students!
CBT 123 helps students to make connections between their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. This card game will get students thinking and talking! It is a fast game for ages 7-15 years old that lasts about 15-20 minutes. The great thing is that anyone can jump in at any time to play.
The Mindfulness Game, you guessed it, focuses on mindfulness! Students can practice meditation, coping skills, and social skills while playing this game. Focused for ages 8 years and up, students respond to a variety of cards. The cards include true/false, mindful practice, and visualization. This is great to play with a small group or a large crowd of 15!
Feelings and Dealings is another fun card game for students to play. This game is geared for students ages 3-6 years old. How it works, is there are a total of 48 cards – 24 are individual pose cards, and 24 are social scene cards. This game focuses in-depth on 24 emotions, whereas other games may focus on just a few emotions at a time. Students will never get bored of this game because guess what? There are 8 games you can play – 3 educational and 5 therapeutic games. These games help with social and emotional intelligence!
Students love emojis! Emoji Conversation cubes come with 4 large foam dice – 2 that have questions and sentence starters, and 2 that have emoji facial expressions. This game is ideal for ages 3 years and older. Students roll one dice at a time, and either answer the question on the question dice or explain the feeling that they rolled on the emoji dice. You can really make this game your own!
Conversation Cubes is another fun dice game for students. For this game though, there are 6 cubes, totaling 36 conversation starters. This game is perfect for ages 6 years and up. Students roll a dice and share their answers. While playing, students work on social skills, including both speaking and listening skills!
Now, although this isn’t a ready-to-go game, Social Skills Activities for Kids provides SO many fun activities to do with your students. So many, as in 50!! Yes, 50. This activity book is broken up into seven chapters, having activities in each one (1) What are Social Skills? (2) How to Talk to Anybody…and Everybody (3) Listen Up! (4) Making Friends (5) Keeping Friends (6) In and Out of School (7) At Home and in Other Homes. This book seriously covers so many important skills that are students need. Activities include worksheets, games, role play, and reflective entries!
The list can go on with all of the amazing jar cards Free Spirit Publishing offers! There are a variety of cards for all ages. These are awesome ways to start off your day, to be used during morning circle, a break, or as a filler in the school day. There is no time limit, you can do this for 1 minute or 20 minutes! However, much time you have. I use these all the time. These are seriously my favorite. I even have these for academic subjects as well. They spark great conversations and are extremely relatable for students. For more jar cards, click here!
Emoji Stories is a dice game that allows students to use their imagination while focusing on social skills at the same time. The game comes with 10 total dice – 8 dice that are pictures + 1 timeline dice + 1 emotion dice. Students roll all 10 dice. After rolling, you create a story. The timeline tells when the story takes place, and the emotion dice tells the emotion that is felt. The creative part is using the remaining 8 picture dice in the story. There are so many amazing skills being practiced throughout the game including social skills, verbal communication skills, and self-esteem!
Mind Your Beeswax is a fun group game that focuses on 4 skills: active listening, cooperation, manners, and communication. This game is geared for ages 8 years and up! Grab a group of 3-8 students, and you are ready to play. There are 48 activity cards, and 10 mindfulness cards included. Students work as a group to complete the activity cards. When students are working together, they are strengthening their teamwork skills as well! Activities include telephone, human sculptures, describe the object, plus more! Each card specifies what skills students are working on. When the team wins, they earn the card. The goal is to collect 6 cards, which build a beehive. There are a variety of activities and competitions that students complete.
Big Feelings Pineapple is a fun toy that students can use to explore and build different facial expressions. This adorable pineapple, Piña, is perfect for ages 3 years and up! Students can choose from 26 facial pieces. What’s even better, is that there are two sides to Piña. So, students can build two facial expressions at once. You can work on opposite emotions and compare both at the same time. This toy also comes with a free emotion guide. This will help guide students when making the facial expressions and what pieces correlate with what emotion.
See My Feelings Mirror is a great tool to help students learn, identify, and visualize 6 different emotions: happy, surprised, scared, sad, silly, and angry. This is a great starter for those learning emotions, since it focuses on six main ones. These 4 mirrors each have pictures on top of it with different emotions. What is so awesome, is that students can see the example of the emotion with the facial expression, and themselves at the same time. They can compare their facial expression to the model at the same time. These mirrors also come with four guided activities!
Now It’s Your Turn
Did we leave your favorite games and toys off the list? Share it in the comments. The more learning through play the better.
Amanda Brady is an elementary self contained special education teacher at a title 1 school. She teaches for a program designed for children with social, emotional, and behavioral challenges that impede their ability to learn and benefit from the educational curriculum. She loves writing articles to support teachers with behavior management, classroom management, and social emotional learning. She attended University of the Pacific where she received her undergraduate degree in Liberal Studies, her graduate degree in Special Education, and her mild to moderate special education credential.