Social Emotional Learning Games - Activities and Games to Promote SEL in the Classroom

December 2, 2023

Are you on the lookout for engaging and fun ways to foster social-emotional learning (SEL) skills in your students? Well, you're in the right place! Whether you're a seasoned teacher or a fresh-faced educator, I've included a treasure trove of games that will transform your classroom into a hub of self-awareness, self-management, relationship building, social awareness, and responsible decision-making.

These games are not only a breeze to implement, but are sure to have your students begging for more. These activities aren't just about learning; they're about making SEL skills an integral part of your classroom culture. So, let the games begin!


Game 1: Empathy Chairs

This game is similar to musical chairs, but it has a social-emotional learning twist. Start the music as students rotate around a circle of chairs with emotion cards on the seats. When the music stops, they'll need to grab a seat. Based on the card at their seats, students will share experiences that they have had related to that emotion. For ready-made cards and detailed directions, click here.

Game 2: Feelings Charades

Get ready to break the ice with a classic game of charades, but with a twist! Instead of acting out movie titles or animals, students will express various emotions using only their facial expressions and body language. This not only hones their emotional awareness but also creates a safe space for open communication about feelings.

Game 3: Emotion Journaling

Equip your students with journals and encourage them to express their daily emotions through words, drawings, or a combination of both. This simple yet effective exercise fosters self-awareness by helping students identify and reflect on their emotions. Bonus: It's a fantastic tool for tracking emotional trends over time. Find my favorite journal prompts for building self-awareness here.


Game 4: Mindful Minute Challenge

Kick off each class or session with a mindful minute challenge. Set a timer for 60 seconds and guide students through a brief mindfulness exercise, such as deep breathing or visualization. This routine cultivates self-management skills by teaching students to center themselves, promoting focus and emotional regulation. You can also practice mindfulness with these FREE finger labyrinths.

Game 5: Goal-Setting Bingo

Turn goal-setting into a game! Create bingo cards with various self-management goals (e.g., completing homework on time, staying organized, managing time effectively). As students achieve each goal, they mark it off their bingo card. The first to get a bingo enjoys a small reward. It's a playful way to instill discipline and responsibility. Or turn goal-setting into a group bulletin board. Grab the FREE goal-setting materials here.

Game 6: Popcorn Game

Play a game called "Popcorn." Have students get into a circle. Explain that the goal is for them to each take a turn popping into the air and clapping at the same time. The only catch is that they must go in a random order. If they "pop" up at the same time as a classmate, they should all start again. This is great way to promote impulse control. Grab detailed directions to play this game and four others here.

Relationship Skills: 

Game 7: Collaborative Storytelling

Fuel creativity and teamwork by having students work together to create a story. Each student contributes a sentence, building on the narrative created by their peers. This not only strengthens relationships but also enhances communication and cooperation skills. Plus, it's a blast to see where the story takes unexpected twists and turns! (These reading passages based on SEL learning skills are fun, too!)

Game 8: Group Challenges

Help students develop their relationship skills as they complete a series of fun challenges as a team. Have teams of students work together to solve 5 different challenges that focus on teamwork, collaboration, and leveraging individual strengths to emphasize the power of working together. Make planning these challenges easy with these ready-made stations.

Game 9: Peer Appreciation Circle

Form a circle and have students take turns expressing appreciation for the person on their right. This simple yet powerful exercise builds positive relationships within the class and reinforces the importance of acknowledging each other's strengths and contributions.

Social Awareness: 

Game 10: Perspective Puzzles

Print or draw pictures of various situations and scenarios. Have students work in pairs to discuss and understand the emotions and perspectives of the people in the pictures. This game sharpens social awareness by encouraging students to consider different viewpoints and practice empathy. I've created a set of cards for this game here.

Game 11: Community Connections Scavenger Hunt

Create a list of community-related items or tasks that students can complete outside of the classroom, fostering a sense of connection to the broader community. This activity enhances social awareness by encouraging students to explore and appreciate the world beyond their immediate surroundings.

Responsible Decision-Making: 

Game 12: Decision Dilemmas

Present students with real-life scenarios that require responsible decision-making. Engage them in thoughtful discussions about the potential outcomes of each choice. This game equips students with the skills to analyze situations, consider consequences, and make informed decisions—a crucial aspect of responsible decision-making. Need some scenario cards to share with students? Grab them here.

Game 13: Consequence Connect Four

Create a Connect Four game board with spaces featuring different consequences of actions. As students play, discuss the potential outcomes associated with each move. This visually engaging activity reinforces the concept that every decision has consequences and helps students develop a sense of responsibility.

Game 14: Decision Making Prompts

Get students thinking about how they might respond to situations with targeted writing prompts. Share prompts that challenges students to make a decision. Then, give them opportunity to write how they might respond. Let students share their responses with peers or small groups. 


And there you have it, a bunch of games designed to infuse your classroom with social-emotional learning! These activities are not just about learning; they're about creating an environment where students flourish emotionally, socially, and academically. So, why wait? Dive into the world of SEL games and watch your students grow into self-aware, emotionally intelligent, and socially adept individuals. Your classroom is about to become the epicenter of SEL success—game on!

Wishing you lots of fun in your classroom,

Mary Beth

P.S. Find 15 MORE social-emotional learning activities HERE.

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