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Home » Blog » Social Skills » 5 Easy Ways to Incorporate Social Emotional Learning in the Classroom

5 Easy Ways to Incorporate Social Emotional Learning in the Classroom

Routines & Procedures, SEL & Character, Social Skills

Written by: Jess Dalrymple

If you know your school day could be more productive but the behaviors and social interruptions are getting in the way, incorporating social emotional learning (SEL) into your classroom routine can help! 

The biggest benefits I’ve seen now that I’ve been incorporating SEL are…

  • My students are making better choices about personal and social decisions
  • My students are resolving peer conflicts appropriately
  • Test scores, grades, and attendance have improved
  • Positive behaviors have increased

Taking the time to address SEL can make a big difference in your classroom, and even more importantly, it will equip your students with some very important life skills!

Read on (or watch the video below) for five super easy ways you can incorporate social emotional learning in your classroom as soon as tomorrow!

#1 – Set aside 15 minutes every day and be intentional with your Social Emotional Learning lessons.

I know you’re thinking that you don’t have time to squeeze in anything else. I get that. There is already SO much to do in a school day! 

But I have good news for you – SEL doesn’t take a ton of time. Fifteen minutes each day can be very effective. Take some of the ideas further down on this list and sneak them in when you find yourself with an extra few minutes before gym class. Or make it something kids look forward to in the last ten minutes before school is dismissed. My personal favorite is to start the day with an SEL-focused morning meeting. (Read #3 for more information about what this looks like in my classroom.)

Keep it simple, but be consistent – and intentional – and you’ll notice positive changes!

#2 – Have a weekly or monthly SEL focus.

I prefer to have a monthly focus: 

Social Emotional Learning in the Classroom

This is also the order I follow. However, if your district has certain pillars of character you need to stick to at certain times, or if you just prefer to start the year with a focus on manners, you can move the order around. 

The approach I've found most effective is to focus on character traits while also rolling in specific SEL strategies (i.e. how to calm down, or managing emotions).

#3 – Start your day with a morning meeting.

This is the most practical way to incorporate SEL intentionally.

I like to start with a simple greeting. I’d recommend Greg and Steve’s good morning song. This is the signal for kids to get up and say hello to each other. You can high five, wave, or handshake with good eye contact and a smile. Practicing social skills is more important than ever if you’re teaching online. I’d recommend spending a short time waving at each other through the camera!

The next part of the morning meeting is sharing time. I like to pose a question, then whip around to hear everyone’s answers. You can ask things like – what’s your favorite pizza? Or what does it mean to be a friend? Teachers have had great success with this routine online too! 

After sharing, I lead a group activity. Often I give my students relatable scenarios. These are open-ended situations that lead us into a discussion about the best and most appropriate ways people should respond.

Download these manners scenario cards

Other great SEL activities are role plays, sorts, or games. You can even do something as simple as creating a quick chart with your class. 

Here’s an example of a chart I used when I was teaching the concept of respect. One side of the chart paper was labeled “respectful” and the other side was labeled “not respectful”. Students enjoy coming up with different examples that could be sorted into either side.

Download this respect sort

Finally, wrap up my morning meetings with a morning message. You can type it and display on a screen or smartboard or write it out on chart paper. The morning message sets expectations for the day. You can also fit in a bit of editing practice if you include some well-placed grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes!

#4 – Choose Your Read Alouds Wisely

There are a plethora of wonderful SEL read alouds! Include a great read aloud during morning meeting, or weave this in at another time of the day. 

Check out this blog post for a list of books organized by SEL category!

#5 – Teach Your Students How to Manage Their Emotions

Give them the ability to be self aware and mindful

When students are taught about how to manage their emotions, you’re giving them the ability to be self aware and mindful. They will be able to read and name the emotions they’re feeling (like jealousy, anger, frustration, overwhelm, stress, or fear). And thanks to explicit teaching and practice, they’ll know how to respond appropriately when these emotions come up!

Calm Down Corner or Bucket

Another suggestion is to reserve a space in your classroom for a calm down corner. When kids need them, they have the tools to get themselves centered and back to learning. If space is limited in your classroom, a calm down bucket full of tools and resources works too! If you’d like more information on what you can use for calming tools, check out this blog post.

Brain Breaks

Taking plenty of brain breaks throughout the day is a great way to be proactive instead of reactive with emotions! Basically, everyone stops what they’re doing for a few minutes to get their wiggles out and to refocus. I have brain break cards that I attach to jumbo straws and when it’s brain break time, we simply pick a straw!

All Access member? Download these brain break cards here.

If you love these ideas but you’d love it even more if all the plans and tools were ready to go so all you had to do worry about was teaching… you’re going to love our Social Emotional Learning Curriculum!

Social Emotional Learning Curriculum

The curriculum will give you all the tools mentioned in this article: 

This curriculum is truly everything you’ll need to bring character education and social emotional learning together into your 1st or 2nd grade classroom in just 15 minutes a day! 

2 Ways to Get This Resource

Join All Access to download everything we've ever made.

toothy task kits

Or... Purchase the bundle in our shop.

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Read all the details about what's included in the Social Emotional Learning Curriculum in this blog post.


  1. Liza

    I am wondering if you have a bilingual curriculum. I would love to purchase but would have to translate everything.

    • Bailey Jordan

      Hi Liza,
      At this time our products are only available in English. I hope this helps to answer your question! Have a great day!

      Bailey Jordan
      Lucky Little Learners

  2. Cindy Gale

    Great. Thanks for the info


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