A Gratitude Jar for Kids

In a previous lesson, we introduced the the power of gratitude where students identified one thing that made them happy on that day. In this lesson, we’ll help you establish a regular routine for being thankful by creating a gratitude jar where students add gratitude notes more frequently.

We recommend that each student create and personalize a gratitude jar; however, if it is more appropriate, you may decide to create a single jar that is shared by the entire class. In either case, the jar should be displayed in a location that will be noticed, like a student workspace or on your desk at school. 

You can have students add notes to the jar every day, every week, or simply when they are feeling grateful. And then, at the end of the semester or year, students can open their jars and enjoy reading all the things they were grateful for during that time.

Note: While the jar is just a container, it is also a visual, symbolic reminder to add items and to reflect on being grateful for the things we have. So we encourage you to have students spend adequate time decorating the jars so they will feel proud of their creations. And in a virtual learning environment, this activity can be a great break from screen time.

Gratitude Jar for Kids

Recommended Grade Level: All

SEL Skill(s): Communication, Emotion Regulation

Duration: 1 hour

Materials:

  • Printable art and gratitude slips for each student
  • A clear jar (pint or quart work well)
  • Glue or tape
  • Scissors
  • Optional: Additional decorations: art, images, stickers, ribbon, etc.

Find a Suitable Jar

An empty spaghetti sauce, pickle, or salsa jar will work well as will many jars that get tossed into the recycling. And if the jar has a label, which it probably will, soaking the jar in water overnight will make it much easier to remove the label.

Note: If you or your students don’t have a jar, use an empty cup to get started, and when you have a jar, go back and decorate.

Create Decorations and Personalize

On the first page of the printable, we have created labels and simple shapes that students can color, cut out, and attach to their jars.

But don’t be limited by what we have provided. Students should create their own art, clip images from magazines, use ribbon, stickers, etc.

Write Notes for the Gratitude Jar

On the printable, we have a few prompts like these:

  1. I am grateful for my family because ___________________
  2. I appreciate my friend ___________ because _____________
  3. I am glad that I don’t have to do ___________________

Blank slips are also provided so students can create their own gratitude notes.

Note: When your students have completed their jars, please post images to our private Facebook Group so others can see!

Would You Rather Questions For Kids

would you rather questions for kids

Getting to know your students, and students getting to know eachother, can be a real struggle, and this is especially true in remote learning environments. To help we’ve created a series of worksheets based on the classic ice breaker game, “would you rather.”

In the game, kids are presented with a question and two choices, and they must select a single answer. But in some cases, there may be a better answer than the two choices we provided. For example, with the question “Would you rather make a new student feel welcome or hang out with your current friends?,” a good answer would be to “make the new student feel welcome.” Perhaps a better answer would be to ask the new student to join you and your friends.

Directions: Using the worksheets below, ask your students to choose an answer to each question. You can also ask them to elaborate why they made that selection and/or ask them to suggest a better answer.

Each worksheet is a PDF with typeable fields so feel free to download and share them through Google Classroom or other online learning platform.

Another approach would be to copy and paste your favorite questions from the list below into Google Slides and work through the questions together as a group activity.

For Educators: We know this year will be tough, so if you need support, please join our private Facebook Group for Social Emotional Leaders. All are welcome to be a part of our community.

Would you rather questions for kids in grades K-2

  • Would you rather play outside or watch TV?
  • Would you rather go to outer space or go to the beach?
  • Would you rather share your cake or keep it all for yourself?
  • Would you rather fly high like a bird or swim fast like a shark ?
  • Would you rather eat something spicy or something sweet?
  • Would you rather be one year older or one year younger?

Would you rather questions for kids in grades 3-5

  • Would you rather be able to travel back in time or into the future?
  • Would you rather find something you lost or get something brand new?
  • Would you rather be famous or happy?
  • Would you rather take care of someone or have someone take care of you?
  • Would you rather work by yourself or in a group with others?
  • Would you rather eat your favorite meal every day or eat different things?

Would you rather questions for middle school students

  • Would you rather make a new student feel welcome or hang out with your current friends?
  • Would you rather do most of the talking or most of the listening?
  • Would you rather be the best athlete or have the best grades?
  • Would you rather know what will happen in the future or be surprised by what happens?
  • Would you rather be able to remember exactly what you see or be able to repeat every word you hear?
  • Would you rather be able to write well or to draw well?

Would you rather questions for high school students

  • Would you rather have an easy, but boring life or a challenging, but exciting life?
  • Would you rather have one best friend or a lot of casual friends?
  • Would you rather give a 2-minute speech in front of the class or write a 20-page report?
  • Would you rather read a book or watch a documentary?
  • Would you rather know exactly what someone is thinking or be good at reading body language?
  • Would you rather speak 5 languages or be a great writer in 1?

Additional Resources:

Games:

Books:

How to Create a Bitmoji Classroom for SEL

If you’re providing remote instruction this year, you may have seem images where educators create a personalized virtual classroom that they share with students during online meetings. These classroom images are easy to make and they help students feel more connected even when they are learning from home. In this tutorial, we’ll provide step-by-step directions for how to create a Bitmoji Classroom and we’ll use a variety of posters and books focused on social emotional learning.

Please make a copy of our Google Slides to use as a starting template and also use the free SEL images to decorate your walls.

Note: We also have included a slide with the five logos for our online games. If you have students using our games, using a clickable logo will make it much easier for them to log in.

What is Bitmoji?

Bitmoji is a free app for your mobile device that let’s you create an avatar that looks a lot like you. You can create personalized images of your avatar using the library of activites and poses within the app.

  1. Step one: Download and install the Bitmoji app by going to the Bitmoji website. Scroll down and click on either “Download on the App Store” for Apple devices or “Get it on Google Play” for Android.
  2. Step two: After creating your avatar and images for you classroom, you will need the Google Chrome extension for Bitmoji in order to download your images.
  3. Step three: Get creative!

You can also join a Facebook Group to share ideas and images. This one, Bitmoji Craze for Educators, is very active and has nearly 500,000 members.

Creating a Bitmoji Classroom in Google Slides

To help you get started, please make a copy of our Virtual Classroom SEL Google Slides by clicking the link. And even if you have already created your own classroom, you may want to make a copy of our slides so that you can reuse our artwork.

Note: When you create your virutual classroom, you will want to find images that are free to reuse. FAVPNG is a free image site and the Facebook Group mentioned above is also a great resource. In addition, you will typically use .png files with transparent backgrounds so that the image you are pasting on top doesn’t look like it is inside of box. However, if you find a non-png image you want to use, you can use this Remove Image Background site to convert your image.

Step One: Pick a background color for your room by clicking on the Background menu in Google Slides. This will be the color of your wall.

Step Two: Next, add an image of a floor. You will likely need to crop and/or adjust the image, but make sure you leave plenty of wall space for the next steps.

Step Three: Add furniture and accessories to your room. You may want to create a front of classroom view like the one below, or a space that more closely resembles where you would interact with your students.

Step Four: Next, personalize your space with decorations and images. Note: you may want to build multiple different backgrounds depending on the lesson you are teaching, so simply duplicate the prior Google Slide before adding your decorations. Also, when viewing a copy of our slides (not the image below), you will notice that some of the books and posters have clickable links. Adding clickable links on images is a great way to make it easier for your students to find the resources you want them to use.

Step Five: Finally, add your Bitmoji and other characters to your slide.

So that’s how to create a Bitmoji classroom, but if you have problems or need help, you can always ask for assistance on our Centervention Facebook Group for Social Emotional Learning.

Morning Affirmations for Kids

During these challenging and uncertain times, it’s important to remain hopeful, and morning affirmations are a great way for students and educators to start the day.

In this lesson, we’ve compiled a list of 50 positive affirmations, and we recommend that you share one affirmation each day, or one each week, as part of a morning meeting with your students.

Instructions:

  1. Choose one affirmation from the list below
  2. Tell your students that you are sharing a few words to help them think positively and feel better
  3. Say the affirmation out loud, and ask studets to repeat it back to you.
  4. Even if you are working with your students remotely, encourage them to look directly at you
  5. Repeat step 3 several times
  6. As a group, talk about what the words mean and why they help improve our outlook
  7. Ask your students to repeat the affirmation several times during the day

Note: You can also use these morning affirmations in conjunction with our Affirmation Cards for Kids lesson and/or have students include their favorite affirmations in a Social Emotional Learning Journal.

List of 50 positive, morning affirmations

  1. I am an amazing person
  2. My best is enough
  3. I will have an amazing day
  4. I can be anything I want to be
  5. It’s okay not to know everything
  6. I have confidence and courage
  7. I am smart
  8. Today will be great
  9. Today I will spread positivity
  10. I will make a difference
  11. I can make my dreams come true
  12. I am ready to learn
  13. I make good choices
  14. I trust my decisions
  15. I am important
  16. I have people who love and respect me
  17. I can do anything
  18. I am strong and determined
  19. I matter
  20. I am capable
  21. I am unique
  22. I make other people feel better
  23. I accept myself for who I am
  24. I believe anything is possible
  25. I can get through anything
  26. I want to do my best every day
  27. I’m going to push through
  28. I’ve got this
  29. I will take a chance
  30. I will get through this
  31. I am relaxed and calm 
  32. I will take deep breaths
  33. I choose my attitude
  34. I stand up for things I believe in
  35. I surround myself with positive people
  36. I make the world a better place
  37. No matter how hard it is, I can do it
  38. I will think positively
  39. Today I will be confident
  40. Today is a new beginning
  41. Today I will work through my fears
  42. Today is going to be my day
  43. Everything will be okay
  44. I am thankful for today
  45. I will be present in the moment
  46. I get better every single day
  47. My problems have solutions
  48. I forgive myself for my mistakes
  49. Challenges help me become a stronger person
  50. I will do better next time
morning affirmations for kids

Additional resources:

Cards:

Books:  

Cooperative Learning Activities for Students in Elementary School

Cooperative learning activities are a fantastic way to improve overall social and emotional learning and development, but, many students struggle with speaking up and asking for helpOften, when presented with a situation or question that they’re not sure how to handle, they get quiet and shy instead of answering.

In these Decode a Joke worksheets, your students will work with a partner to decode the punchline to several animal-themed jokes by working to decode a joke for Cooper the Lion, an animal character from Zoo U. In the lesson, students will be presented with part of the joke, and in order to find the answer, they need to ask for help from someone holding the key.

Directions for these cooperative learning activities:

  1. Split students into pairs.
  2. Give one student in each pair the code, and give the other the key.
  3. The student with the code is the scribe. He will start by asking what the first symbol means, and the key holder will check the key and tell him the letter that corresponds to that symbol. The scribe will fill in that letter in the box above the symbol.
  4. Students continue to work this way until they have decoded the joke.
  5. If you would like them to switch roles, give them another coded message.

We encourage you or another adult to be in charge of the key, but for older students, this can work as a peer activity. In either case, students learn to ask for help decoding each letter until they uncover the silly answer.

By completing the lesson, students will build confidence and be more likely to ask for help when needed.


Answer Key for Decoded Jokes for Older Students:

  • What is a crocodile’s favorite drink? Gator-ade.
  • Which side of a cheetah has the most spots?   The outside.
  • What snakes are found on cars?  Windshield vipers.
  • Who was the gorilla’s favorite American President? Ape-raham Lincoln.
  • What time is it when an elephant sits on the sofa?  Time to get a new sofa.
  • What kind of math do birds like?  Owlgebra.
  • What do you call a bee that can’t make up his mind?  A maybee.
  • What kind of bears like to go out in the rain?  Drizzly bears.

Classroom Scavenger Hunt

This classroom scavenger hunt will help students focus on doing good deeds or random acts of kindness for others. You can choose to give a reward for good deeds completed, or even better, have the reward be feeling good for doing something nice for others! 

Examples from the worksheet include:

  • Invite someone new to play with you at recess
  • Give a teacher a compliment
  • Hold the door open for someone
  • Smile at someone in the hallway
  • Offer to carry something for someone

There’s no telling what simple random acts of kindness will do for someone else. So encourage your students to focus on completing as much of the classroom scavenger hunt as possible.

For students stuck at home, a scavenger hunt can be a new treat and a fun way to pass the time. Using this worksheet, students will search for things around the home that bring up certain emotions, feelings or memories.

For example, students will look for objects that:

  • Make them laugh
  • Are part of a new hobby
  • Help them remember a trip

Additional Resources:

Books:

Games:

Lesson:

Classroom Scavenger Hunt

Summer Worksheets for Social Emotional Learning

Even though you may be taking a break, your students can have fun and work on social emotional learning at the same time with these summer worksheets.

The first worksheet has three sections:

  1. A list of six “Activities” that promote social and emotional development
  2. A section for their “Goals” for the summer
  3. And five “Journal Ideas” to encourage them to write about what they are experiencing and how they are feeling.

The second worksheet is a lined, free-form page they can use to write about their experiences and feelings (mentioned above). When they complete worksheet one, and as they write out their journal entries, you (or they) can add them to their Social and Emotional Learning Journal.

In addition, here are links to a few additional activities referenced in the worksheets that you may what to have students work on over the summer break:

  • Vision Board Ideas: These worksheets will help students think about longer term goals, aspirations, and dreams. Given the uncertainty we are all facing, a vision board can be a helpful reminder of what is possible and what they can look forward to.
  • Acts of Kindness:  We can help improve mental health and reduce anxitey by thinking about ways we can help other people. In this lesson, students will create simple notes that they can share with others who might need a word of encouragement.

Specifically for students who are anxious about the starting middle school:

To all of the educators and parents working hard to help their students build social and emotional skills, we wish you a restful, relaxing summer!

Additional Resources:

Books:

Games:

summer worksheets

All About Me Worksheet: Resource for Elementary Educators and Parents

You may think of an All About Me Worksheet as an activity to kick off the start of a new school year, and this one can as well. However, it’s also a great way for your students to connect with their parents and family members for a stroll down memory lane. And if students complete the worksheet over the summer, they can share it with their teacher in the fall.  

The all about me worksheet is made of of two parts:

  • First, with the help of a family member, students will discover facts about themselves and what makes them who they are.
    • Full name
    • Birthday
    • A baby photo
    • Where I was born
    • Where I have lived
    • Where I have traveled
    • My family
    • Favorite family memories
    • Someone I admire
  • Second, they will paste a favorite photo and write about what is happening and why it is important to them.

Both of these worksheets can be added to the student’s SEL journal.

Please note, if you have students working from home without access to a printer, we have added typable fields to the worksheet (with the exception of locations to paste photos). You can have students save the PDF and send it to you for printing.

To download the two worksheets, just click on the here or on the Download All About Me Printable button below.

Additional resources:

Books:  

Manipulatives:

all about me worksheet

Affirmation Cards for Kids

Self affirmations are a great way to help build self esteem and overcome doubts. Instead of listening to the voice in our head saying “I can’t,” we focus on words that create a positive mindset and the confidence to keep trying.  Helping our students to pay attention to their inner voice and concentrate on positive thoughts is something we’ve discussed in a previous lesson .  In this lesson, we’ll expand that idea of positive thoughts by first helping students identify beliefs about themselves and then creating a set of affirmation cards that they can refer to daily to create a positive attitude. 

Prep: Print out (or send) the worksheets for each of your students.

This is a three part lesson:

  1. Students will draw (or paste) an image of themselves surrounded by three thought bubbles. In the bubbles, they will write things that they believe about themselves.
  2. Next, students will elaborate on each of their beliefs by answering these questions: Why do you think this? How often do you think this? Has someone else described you this way?
  3. Lastly, students will create affirmation cards. When they are finished, they can tape their affirmation cards to a mirror (or another location) to provide positive reminders of how awesome they are!

After students have completed the lesson, they can add their worksheets into their Social and Emotional Learning Journal. In addition, we would encourage you to read page number two and discuss the reasons why they have certain beliefs about themselves.

Additional resources:

Cards:

Books:  

morning affirmations

Mindfulness Activities for Kids

There are a wide range of mindfulness activities for kids from yoga, meditation, deep breathing, or even blowing bubbles. In this activity, we will help you help your students learn to focus on the present moment by identifying something that helps them calm down.

First, print out (or send) the worksheets for your students. The first page will prompt students for things they can see, hear, smell, and think about that help them calm down. And the second page is for them to draw a picture or print out an image of something (or things) that helps them calm down.

When they are finished, they can add these worksheets into their Social and Emotional Learning Journal. In addition, you can also share this deep breathing lesson that was developed as part of our Zoo Academy online social and emotional learning game for K-1 students.

Additional resources:

Books:  

mindfulness activities for kids