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Social-Emotional Learning During Distance Learning (Social Stories Included)

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Photo of Holly (Teach Starter)
Updated | 4 min read

During such unprecedented times, we often seek out regular routines or normalcy to find comfort. It’s important to sit back and think about how your students may be feeling during this global pandemic. Many may be missing their friends, others may have parents that are frontline workers, and therefore life has been a little different from what they are used to. Whether your district is all online learning, in person, or a mix of the two – the students will be looking towards their school life to get through this crazy time! That is why it is important to consider your students’ social-emotional learning during distance learning.

Child learning at home for distance learning / MiMaLeFi

Social-Emotional Learning During Distance Learning

As teachers, we know that the teaching of social-emotional skills can help children during times of stress. So, incorporating social-emotional learning during your remote learning is incredibly important. In this blog, we outline some activities and digital resources that you can use both in class or remotely to help your students get through their new way of life.

Child relaxing on the grass / sirtravelalot

(1) Teach Mindfulness

The positive benefits of teaching mindfulness to children have been proven across a number of studies. A five or ten-minute daily mindfulness practice every single day can help students reduce stress and anxiety, increase concentration and engagement, sleep better, improve social skills, and develop problem-solving and decision-making skills. Remote learning shouldn’t change this.

We have a huge collection of mindfulness activities for kids that you can send home to students, or use in the classroom.

Mindfulness coloring for kids

Printable mindfulness resources for kids:

Image of 5 Minute Mindfulness Meditation Activity Task Cards for Kids

teaching resource

5 Minute Mindfulness Meditation Activity Task Cards for Kids

Bring 5-minute mindfulness meditation into the classroom and your social and emotional learning with these 17 printable activity cards for kids.

Teach Starter Publishing9 pagesGrades: K - 6
Image of Mindfulness Coloring Pinwheel Activity

teaching resource

Mindfulness Coloring Pinwheel Activity

A fun mindfulness activity that involves coloring and making a paper pinwheel.

Teach Starter Publishing1 pageGrades: K - 6
Image of Mindfulness Activity Tracker - 9 Weeks

teaching resource

Mindfulness Activity Tracker - 9 Weeks

A 9 week chart and picture markers to use when tracking mindfulness practice.

Teach Starter Publishing1 page
Image of Rhino Mindful Coloring Sheet

teaching resource

Rhino Mindful Coloring Sheet

A rhino mindful coloring sheet.

Teach Starter Publishing1 pageGrades: 2 - 6
Image of Mindful Breathing - Guided Meditation for Kids Script

teaching resource

Mindful Breathing - Guided Meditation for Kids Script

Print a guided meditation for kids script to practice mindful breathing with your elementary school students.

Teach Starter Publishing3 pagesGrades: K - 6

Podcast for Kids

To make things even easier during distance learning – our very own podcast for kids includes three meditation episodes that are FREE to use. Add a link to these podcasts on your Google Classroom or whatever platform you are using for distance learning.

(2) Use Social Stories for Little Learners

While social stories have traditionally been a tool used for children with ASD, they can be helpful to explain different social scenarios for little learners. Social stories are written in the first person, with the child as one of the key characters. This makes it more relatable for the children. Here’s an example of one that we have transformed into a video. A simple social story that explains how to prevent germs from spreading.


Printable Social Stories for kids:

Image of Social Stories - Waiting for My Turn To Talk

teaching resource

Social Stories - Waiting for My Turn To Talk

A social story to develop strategies when waiting for the appropriate time to talk.

Teach Starter Publishing1 pageGrades: K - 7
Image of Social Stories - Personal Space

teaching resource

Social Stories - Personal Space

A social story to remind students to leave personal space when interacting with others.

Teach Starter Publishing1 pageGrades: K - 7
Image of Build Your Own Social Stories - Templates

teaching resource

Build Your Own Social Stories - Templates

81 social story pictures and 9 templates to use with children in your classroom.

Teach Starter Publishing12 pagesGrades: K - 7

(4) Talk about Current Events In Child-Friendly Language

Talking about the current events that are taking place in kid-friendly language is important. The reality is that your students are listening to their parents talk about the global pandemic, or possibly watching the news, so breaking it down into language they will understand allows them to feel more in control of their own thoughts and feelings.

To help with this, we have a few episodes on our podcast for kids that cover a range of topics, including a short story by one of our favorite author’s Julia Cook!

(5) Use Visual Cues for New Concepts

Incorporating visual cues for new concepts such as social distancing alleviates any unknowns for your students. Discussing what your students can do, rather than what they can’t do is always going to make it feel more positive.

Classroom morning greetings are so important when it comes to your daily classroom routine. Not only do they deepen your relationship with each individual student, but they also help students learn those critical communication skills. Don’t let social distancing squash this powerful part of your routine. Use this set of Non-Contact Morning Greetings Posters to show your students the different non-contact greetings they can use to greet you and their friends each morning. They even work virtually!

Non-contact Morning Greetings classroom posters

With this upcoming school year being a bit tricky, we have created a set of Social Distancing in the Classroom Posters for you to use in your classroom to remind students about social distancing and to maintain their own ‘bubble’ in the classroom environment. Gorgeous images visually explain to younger students what each poster is explaining!

Social Distancing in the Classroom Posters

(6) Daily Feeling Check-In

Making it routine to invite children to talk about how they are feeling each day will give you a clear understanding of how they are doing emotionally. Set aside some time for students to create their own feeling sticks (like the ones in the photo below). You could invite them to use whatever they may have at home to create these sticks – let their creativity run wild! Then, during morning meetings – ask students to hold up how they are feeling today!

How to make feeling sticks for kids

Here are some other printable feelings resources that could also work well:

Image of My Emotions Wheel

teaching resource

My Emotions Wheel

Help students communicate how they are feeling with this emotions wheel template.

Teach Starter Publishing2 pagesGrades: PK - 5
Image of Weather Feelings - How Are You Feeling? Poster and Flashcards

teaching resource

Weather Feelings - How Are You Feeling? Poster and Flashcards

A visual resource to help students verbalize how they are feeling.

Teach Starter Publishing6 pagesGrades: PK - 3

(7) Morning Meetings!

Morning Meetings are a great way to start each day in your classroom. Not only do they build a strong sense of community, but they also set your students up for a successful day, both socially as well as academically.

Our new Editable Morning Meeting Slides are the perfect template for you to use during your meeting to present important information to your students in the class, or virtually!


(7) Remember to Look After You!

When all is said and done – all of this is new for you as well! Take some time to reflect on how you are coping and make sure you factor in mindful moments. Schedule in time to de-stress, have a chat with colleagues, and make sure you are taking care of your physical wellbeing!

Teacher relaxing / simona pilolla 2

If you’re looking for a Back-to-School Boost, you may like to check out our Free Booster Packs.

Banner Image: / epixproductions


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