Going back to school can be exciting for some students, but it can also be stressful for others. Feelings of anticipation and uncertainty can cause students to feel anxious. Students may begin to feel anxiety during the summer before the new school year begins. They might be wondering who their teacher will be, where their classes are, and if they will make new friends. Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) activities can help students cope with this anxiety. Let’s look at three SEL activities that can help students destress and start the year off strong.
Getting to Know You Bingo
Helping students get to know one another can make all the difference. With this bingo game, students will have fun learning about each other by finding things they have in common. To play the game, ask students to find classmates who fit the descriptors on the game card. Students can play a regular bingo game, or they can complete the entire card.
Give the winner a small reward and acknowledge everyone’s efforts by asking students to raise their hand if they completed five, 10, 15, or 20 squares. After the game is over, you can review each statement on the card and ask who it applied to. This is a good way for students to see what they have in common with others in the class.
To create a bingo card, I recommend using Flippity. Flippity has a bingo template along with instructions so that you can easily create your own cards. Below is an example of a bingo card I created.
Mindful Check In
A challenge for teachers is not knowing how students are feeling at the beginning of the school year. Therefore, it’s important to check in with them. Doing a check-in with your students before class begins can give you a good indication of how your students are feeling. Be sure to check out some of these daily check-in Jamboard templates. By acknowledging how your students feel, you are creating a safe place for them.
If students indicate they are feeling good, then have them share their good feelings with the class. If students are feeling down or anxious, allow them some time to do mindfulness activities, like deep breathing exercises.
Worry Jar or Box
The Worry Box is an activity in which students can identify their worries and allow themselves to forget them for a little while. All you need for this activity is a glass or plastic jar. If you want a box, then you can use a shoe box. You can even decorate it if you want.
Have students write down their anxieties or worries and place them in the worry box or jar. After students place their slips of paper in the box or jar, be sure to store it out of the student’s view. If your students want to share their anxieties, allow them to. They may find out that there are other students in the classroom that feel the same way. This can help build empathy among the class. If students are too young to write, they can draw their worries, and if you want a digital version, check out this Worry Monster Jamboard created by Karen Stepic.
For some students, going back to school can cause different levels of anxiety. There are many ways SEL can help students calm themselves and work through their insecurities. Encourage students to try out a few SEL activities and discover what works best for them.