Classroom Tools


The ability to accurately recognize one’s own emotions, thoughts, and values and how they influence behavior. The ability to accurately assess one’s strengths and limitations, with a well-grounded sense of confidence, optimism, and a “growth mindset.”

    • Identifying emotions
    • Accurate self-perception
    • Recognizing strengths
    • Self-confidence
    • Self-efficacy

Identifying Emotions

Being able to identify ones own feelings and how others are feeling is foundational for many of the other social emotional skills that we teach our students.

Here are some feelings charts, worksheets, feelings cards, and charades scenarios to use to familiarize students with identifying emotions.

You can hang these in your classroom, use them in your chill out zone, or use them as students act out how they would feel in various scenarios and their classmates use the student's nonverbal cues to identify the emotion they are feeling.

You can download these resources by clicking on the following links: How Are You Feeling? Feelings and Emotions Cards and Emotional Charades


Here is a fun game that you could play on Ipads or as a class on the smart board to help students identify feelings.

Here is another game that you can use with students to help them identify emotions.


Video about believing in yourself and being able to do anything if you work hard enough.

Have students draw a self portrait that includes their interests, hobbies, or things they are learning. Do this periodically throughout the year and discuss how they're growing and changing throughout the year.

Download this free resources at this link: Self Portrait


Growth/Positive Mindset

Here is an awesome growth mindset resource. This website has full lesson plans, videos, and resources to teach your students to use a growth mindset at multiple different developmental levels. Additionally, they have a short and simple assessment you can use to measure your students' growth mindset.

This is a video that shows how powerful your brain is and the impact that your thoughts can have on your abilities and actions. This is great to pair with the washer pendulum activity.

I have compiled a list of resources supporting having a positive mindset, self-esteem, and self-efficacy based on an article Dave Alex (principal of Fremont) sent my way about testing and academic performance. Most of them are take up 5 minutes or less and can be easily incorporated into the day or used as a brain break.

Positive Mindset Resources

Writing Prompts that Promote Self-Awareness Skills:

  • When I feel happy/sad/mad/etc. I look like...
  • When I feel happy/sad/mad/etc. I say...
  • When I feel happy/sad/mad/etc. these are the things I do...
  • My perfect day would include...
  • When I grow up I want to...
  • One of my favorite things about me is...
  • One thing I think I could improve is...
  • I wish others knew this about me...
  • One (three) of the things I do really well is (are)...

Books that Promote Self-Awareness Skills:

  • If there is a book that you would like to use in your classroom but is not available at your school please contact me and I will help you find a copy.
  • !Under Construction!
  • K-2nd:
    • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
    • All My Feelings at Home: Ellie’s Day by Susan Conlin and Susan Levine Friedman
    • A to Z: Do You Ever Feel Like Me? by Bonnie Hausman
    • Amanda Pig on Her Own by Jean Van Leeuwen
    • A Bad Case of Stripes by by David Shannon
    • Feelings by Aliki

Circle Topics that Promote Self-Awareness Skills:

  • Coming Soon!


The ability to successfully regulate one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in different situations — effectively managing stress, controlling impulses, and motivating oneself. The ability to set and work toward personal and academic goals.

    • Impulse control
    • Stress management
    • Self-discipline
    • Self-motivation
    • Goal-setting
    • Organizational skills

Body Regulation

Great catchy song to use with primary students to discuss the topic of whole body listening and getting your body ready to learn. Thanks Lauren Globish for sharing this find with me!

Brain Breaks

Responsive Classrooms has created a Youtube playlist of "Energizers" that classroom teachers can use as brain breaks for students. Clicking on the video should link you to the full playlist of 15 videos.


Need everyone in your classroom to just take a deep breath? Discover the different guided mindfulness audio clips at

Here is a handout that students can use in the classroom to practice taking deep breaths. Eventually they will not need the handout anymore and can just trace the shape on their desk with their finger.

free deep breathing printables.pdf

Here is a great tool to help students practice muscle relaxation. It could be used as a good transitional activity to calm students down when they are energetic.

Relaxation Script for Younger Children.pdf

Here is a YouTube video that uses the same examples from the document above to practice muscle relaxation.

Coping Skills

Here are the instructions to make a great sensory tool to help children calm down!

Here are some tools (posters of coping strategies, desk reminders, think sheets, worksheets, and editable social stories) that can be used to help teach students self regulation.

Video about patience and self-control

Stress Management

These are a copy videos about how stress effects the body.

Time Management

Do you have some students who could use support with time management? PBS has a lot of great material to support time management skills such as choosing priorities and making a schedule. Click on the picture to learn more:

Calm Classroom

Music for a calm classroom work environment

Writing Prompts That Promote Self-Regulation Skills:

  • When I feel sad/mad I can ___________ to make myself feel happy again.
  • When I feel stressed/worried/anxious, I can calm down by...
  • When I grow up I want to _______. Here are three steps I can take to reach this goal...
  • During this school year I want to reach the following goals... Here is what I will do to reach those goals...
  • To calm yourself down when you are upset you can think of the place in the world that you are the happiest and picture yourself there. Where is your happy place? What does it smell like? Sound like? Look like?

Books that Promote Self-Regulation Skills:

  • If there is a book that you would like to use in your classroom but is not available at your school please contact me and I will help you find a copy.
  • !Under construction!
  • K-2nd:
    • Andrew’s Angry Words by Dorothea Lachner
    • Angry Arthur by Angry Arthur
    • Angry Octopus: A Relaxation Story by Lori Lite
    • Anh’s Anger by Gail Silver
    • Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg
    • Cool Down and Work Through Anger by Cheri J. Meiners
    • Fancy Nancy: Bonjour Butterfly by Jane O'Connor
    • When Sophie Gets Angry—Really, Really Angry... by Molly Bang
    • My Mouth is A Volcano by Julia Cook

Circle Topics that Promote Self-Regulation Skills:

  • Coming soon!

Social Awareness:

The ability to take the perspective of and empathize with others, including those from diverse backgrounds and cultures. The ability to understand social and ethical norms for behavior and to recognize family, school, and community resources and supports.

    • Perspective-taking
    • Empathy
    • Appreciating diversity
    • Respect for others


Here is a lesson plan that was created to encourage students to think about what it means to take a walk in someone else's shoes.

Download this free resource here: Take a Walk in Someone Else's Shoes



Here is a great worksheet to use to have a discussion about respect in your classroom. It is also good reading comprehension practice.

Download this free resource here: Respect


This link is a great resource for talking to students about being good sports.

Appreciating and Understanding Diversity

Here is a worksheet that you can use to help celebrate the diversity in your classroom. Download this free resource here: Diversity


This website has great lists of books to celebrate and understand diversity for all different levels of readers. Many of these books would be a great addition to make classroom libraries inclusive.

This is a great interactive comic from Arthur about learning from others and appreciating diversity.


Great ideas for practicing kindness and respect for others in your classroom.

Random Acts of Kindness’ website is a great tool for teaching SEL in the classroom. Not only does it have lesson plans on multiple topics for each grade level, posters to hang in your classroom, book lists, and numerous games to play but also is all FREE. While the focus is on teaching kindness, the lessons cover a variety of SEL topics.

This is a video that you can use to teach primary students about the different things they can do to be kind.


The following link is for an activity called "Adaptive Basketball." It encourages student to practice empathy and taking the perspective of individuals who are differently abled than them:

Click on the image to link to an activity to support students' development of empathy by talking about the effects of name calling.

This video helps to show the difference between sympathy and empathy.

Here are a couple videos around empathy geared more towards grades 5th and up. Both are best used by incorporating into a discussion or activity. I have used the "If Shoes Could Speak" video to have students anonymously write something they want their class to know about them (positive or negative). Each student got someone else's note and had to practice perspective taking when reading it out loud to the class as if it was theirs.

Writing Prompts That Promote Social Awareness Skills:

  • What does it mean to put yourself in someone else’s shoes?
  • What kinds of behaviors show that you understand someone’s feelings?
  • What are some ways all the kids in this class are alike? What are some ways you are different?
  • Write about a time when you had a different opinion about something than one of your friends. How did you see things from their point of view?
  • Why is it important to learn about people who are different than you?

Books that Promote Social Awareness Skills:

  • If there is a book that you would like to use in your classroom but is not available at your school please contact me and I will help you find a copy.
  • !Under Construction!
  • K-2nd:
    • Adventures at Walnut Grove: A Lesson About Teasing by Dana Lehman
    • Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse by Leo Lionni
    • And to Think That We Thought That We’d Never Be Friends by Mary Ann Hoberman
    • Angel Child, Dragon Child by Michele Maria Surat
    • Be Good to Eddie Lee by Virginia Fleming
    • Because Brian Hugged His Mother by David L. Rice
    • Betty Lou Blue by Nancy Crocker
    • Big Al by Andrew Clements
    • Cleversticks by Bernard Ashley
  • 3rd-4th:
    • Crow Boy by Taro Yashima

Circle Topics that Promote Social Awareness Skills:

Relationship Skills:

The ability to establish and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships with diverse individuals and groups. The ability to communicate clearly, listen well, cooperate with others, resist inappropriate social pressure, negotiate conflict constructively, and seek and offer help when needed.

    • Communication
    • Social engagement
    • Relationship-building
    • Teamwork

Active Listening

Here is a poster that you can hang in your classroom to remind students how to be an active listener.



Here are some resources to help you talk with your students about recognizing bullying, the impacts, and how students can intervene in bullying.


This video is part of the It's My Life series through PBS and has students talking about gossip and rumors.

Newsela has a great set of five lessons that can be incorporated into reading and writing time with students that focus on topics related to bully prevention (relationships, empathy, diversity and perspectives, etc.)

One of the many rock star teachers that I work with (Caitlin Anderson) shared this resource with me.

This website has an interactive story about Arthur bullying Sue Ellen. This story helps students to understand the difference between teasing and bullying as well as helps them practice empathy and see things from the perspective of each person involved.

Social Pressure

This video talks about the "bystander effect" and how being in a group of people can influence how one responds to a situation of stepping up to help someone in need.


Help students practice gratitude (and in turn build their empathy and happiness) with the activities in the link to the right.

Read The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstiein to students and have a discussion about the people in their lives who help them and take care of them unconditionally. Have students write a thank you letter to one of their "giving trees." You can also use the worksheet to the right for younger students.

Giving Tree Worksheet Primary.docx


Here are some great resources you can use in your classroom to discuss what friendship is with your students. These were borrowed from the Elementary School Counseling Website.

The website recommends making a class book on friendship out of the handouts in which each student contributes a page.


Classroom Community

Here are some beginning of the year activities to build community in your classroom and help everyone get to know each other.

The primary are recommended for K-1 and the secondary are recommended for 2-6.

Primary-Getting To Know You.pdf
Secondary-Getting To Know You.pdf

At the beginning of the year (or at anytime really) have students write down their favorite song. Warn that songs that are not appropriate will not get played. Put song names on popsicle sticks and draw a song for your class to dance to when they need a brain break. Make sure to play everyone's song at some point throughout the year so that everyone in your classroom community feels included.

Have each student put their back against the white board or piece of butcher paper and strike a pose. Draw the student's outline. Have the student step away and have other classmates fill in the student's outline with positive things they like about that student. Once finished, show the student their outline! Take a picture of each of these and create a collage for the classroom of each students strengths or print off individual copies to send home with the student.

This can also be done if students bring in white t-shirts and walk around the classroom writing on the back of each others' t-shirts with a permanent marker.

This article includes a great activity to help students focus on the positive things they are seeing their classmates do.

This article has some great activities to build classroom community, awareness of others, growth mindset, and self regulation.

These are a couple links to some great and easy activities that some teachers created for morning meetings:

Morning Meeting Greetings & Activities

Morning Wake-Ups


Writing Prompts That Promote Relationship Skills:

  • These are the ways that I can show someone that I am listening to what they are saying...
  • Write about a time that someone misunderstood what you where saying or doing.
  • Write about a time you felt pressured to do something that you did not want to do. How did you resist this pressure?
  • Write about a time when you had to work with someone who you do not get along with. How did you work with them successfully?
  • What qualities make a good friend? Do I exhibit these qualities?

Books that Promote Relationship Skills:

  • If there is a book that you would like to use in your classroom but is not available at your school please contact me and I will help you find a copy.
  • K-2nd:
    • Bear Feels Sick by Karma Wilson
    • Benjamin Bear Says Sorry by Claire Freedman
    • Best Friends for Frances by Russell Hoban
    • Can I Play Too? by Mo Willems
    • Don’t Need Friends by Carolyn Crimi
    • Emily’s Sharing and Caring Book by Cindy Post Senning
    • Enemy Pie by Derek Munson

Circle Topics that Promote Relationship Skills:

  • Coming soon!

Responsible Decision-Making:

The ability to make constructive choices about personal behavior and social interactions based on ethical standards, safety concerns, and social norms. The realistic evaluation of consequences of various actions, and a consideration of the well-being of oneself and others.

    • Identifying problems
    • Analyzing situations
    • Solving problems
    • Evaluating
    • Reflecting
    • Ethical responsibility

Problem Solving

Here are some great problem solving resources, such as scenario cards about common problems that students encounter.

You can download these free resources at the following links: Solving Problems and Social Scenario Problem Solving


One of the best ways to practice problem solving with students is to take the time to do it as problems arise during the day. Resist the urge to solve a problem for a student when you are in a hurry and instead walk them through the steps to help them solve it for themselves.

Practice the problem-solving steps with your students as a group. Have a visual reminder of the steps in your classroom to refer to when students need a reminder.

Substance Use

This tool can help older students to understand the impact that the use of different substances has on their brain. It would be helpful to use this tool with students who are currently learning about functions of their brain.

Video about the impacts of marijuana on the teenage brain to show to students.

Writing Prompts That Promote Responsible Decision-Making Skills:

  • Write about a time that you had to solve a difficult problem. What did you do to solve it successfully?
  • Write about a time that you got into an argument with a friend or family member. How did you resolve this argument? What could you have done differently so that things went better?
  • Write about the assessment/test/activity/project that you just completed. What went well? What did not go well? What can you do differently next time so that things go better?
  • Think of a current problem you have (or use a common problem that occurs in your classroom). Use the problem solving steps to think of a solution to this problem.
  • What makes something a big problem versus a small problem? When does a problem become to big for me to handle on my own?

Books That Promote Responsible Decision-Making Skills:

  • If there is a book that you would like to use in your classroom but is not available at your school please contact me and I will help you find a copy.
  • Coming soon!

Circle Topics That Promote Responsible Decision-Making Skills:

  • Coming soon!