SEL resources

What Are Best SEL Resources For Teachers?

by TeachThought Staff

Social and emotional learning (SEL) involves creating opportunities within the school day to support students in developing positive behaviors and mindsets such as goal-setting, showing empathy, cultivating relationships, making responsible choices, and managing their nervous systems.

While educators typically won’t find these skills prioritized in state standards for their content areas, they are essential for success in school, work, relationships, and life.

See also What Is Social-Emotional Learning?

Over 25 states have developed their own SEL standards and found innovative ways to integrate SEL into the school day. For example, many high schools have redesigned their weekly advisory/homeroom sessions to incorporate SEL curriculum. When implemented systematically, SEL programs yield overwhelmingly positive benefits for students of diverse backgrounds, including:

  • Improved self-concept and perception of others
  • Increased connection to the school community
  • More positive social behavior
  • Stronger academic performance
  • Reduced behavioral problems and emotional conflict

Below, we’ve identified 30+ effective SEL resources that educators and schools can implement to help students grow in the affective domain.

Grateful is an app that provides prompts for students to document little ‘events’ or thoughts throughout the day that contribute to their physical and psychological well-being.

Growth Mindset Prompts For The Classroom are sentence stems to help students nurture a less-rigid, more flexible state of mind.

Common Sense Media SEL Resources is a collection of activities, videos, and lessons to promote SEL in your classroom.

Moodnotes is an app to allow students to document and reflect on the relationship between their thoughts and their feelings

Empatico connects students ages 6-11 with learners around the globe. Educators choose a partner class based on similar student ages, class schedules, and SEL goals; next, they schedule an exchange on universal, approachable topics. The tool includes a vast library of activities to help students build relationships, foster empathy, and curiosity of other cultures, identify similarities and differences, practice respectful discussion, consider new perspectives, and think critically.

Creating Community: Team-Building Games To Help Students Make Friends

SuperBetter engages the benefits of gameplay to help students become resilient. Students challenge themselves, collect and initiate power-ups, battle ‘bad guys,’ complete a variety of quests, and team up with allies to increase their emotional control, mental flexibility, interconnectedness, self-efficacy, and positive outlook.

Waking Up by Sam Harris is an app that acts as an introductory online course for mediation and mindfulness.

See also Meditation Apps For Children

Sown To Grow is a goal-setting platform that fosters metacognition and reflection.  Students set learning goals, track their own progress, and write reflections on the strategies that work best. Teachers can gain insights into the emotional well-being of their students and identify ones they should check in with. In taking ownership of their learning, grades become less of “what a teacher gave me” and more of “what I earned.”

KazuTime features a sweet Husky puppy and friends who support early elementary school students in managing tasks like getting ready for school and completing their homework. By using visual and auditory cues, students gain a better grasp of time. The social-emotional learning resource app gives students the chance to anticipate the end of an activity, which reduces their anxiety about completing challenging tasks in a specific timeframe.

Classcraft encourages student participation through a game-based approach. Teachers can set up separate classrooms where students can participate in three different roles:  guardians, mages, and healers. Teachers can reward points to students for working hard, collaborating effectively, or demonstrating leadership skills. Students can use their points to characterize their avatars and earn privileges in the classroom.

With Ongoing Conversations, the teacher charges students to initiate conversations with a minimum number of students over a set time to encourage them to branch out from their typical cliques and perspectives. On their tracker, students record the names, dates, and one-line summaries of conversations. By setting a minimum number of unique conversation partners, the teacher makes it more acceptable to walk up to an unfamiliar peer and initiate a thoughtful discussion.

Courageous Conversations helps older students navigate controversial or emotionally charged topics, such as race, mental health, and privilege. The framework prompts students to remain engaged, sit with discomfort, speak their truth, and get comfortable with nonclosure. Students devise conversation norms as well as verbal or nonverbal cues to signal when they feel hurt by a comment. Through participating in courageous conversations, students hone skills like asking questions, thoughtfully disagreeing respectfully, justifying responses, and considering diverse perspectives.

The Social Express hosts over 80 webisodes where students interact with scenes to make choices and understand their consequences. Webisodes focus on SEL skills like active listening, conflict resolution, initiating conversations, collaborating in small groups, and managing nonverbal communication signals. 

Minecraft: Education Edition is an open-world game that fosters exploration, tinkering, creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking. Students develop these skills through building their own world, which enhances their understanding of community and leadership. It includes a special component called Code Builder which allows students to learn how to code using JavaScript or blocks of code.

Peekapak’s learning game myPeekaville uses interactive storytelling and a game-based approach to reinforce empathy, respect for others, and self-regulation. Students create avatars and interact with characters in the open world to solve problems using SEL and literacy skills. Teachers can track student progress and check in with students on an emotional level, which is particularly helpful when students are learning remotely.

In Apology, Applause, Awareness, the teacher gathers students in a circle near the close of the school day for an opportunity to foster group discussion. Each student shares an apology, applauds a peer, or offers an insightful comment. These comments can elicit strong reactions from other classmates and help students come to view the classroom as a community where their words and actions have consequences.

Roadtrip Nation gives students full access to a large library of interactive career stories and interviews that they can browse by interest or theme. Middle and high school students develop goal-setting skills by building a roadmap to their career(s) of interest and considering the logistics of reaching their goals. Roadtrip Nation programs have also been shown to significantly increase students’ self-efficacy and grade point averages, making this is worthwhile social-emotional learning resource to consider.

Daily Dedications prompt students to share stories about people close to them in a daily 30- to 60-second presentation. Educators can encourage students to use visuals, music, and other interactives to tell brief vignettes of the special people in their lives. In sharing, students discover that they have more similarities than differences with their classmates. This activity is particularly helpful for building relational capacity in a hybrid or remote course.

FUNecole helps students develop critical thinking skills through prompting real-world challenges. In working together to achieve common goals, students learn how to communicate with diverse audiences, evaluate information from various sources, and make socially responsible decisions. The app includes ready-to-teach lesson plans that educators can customize to their specific content areas.

The Fast Friends activity helps students get to know each other quickly. Students sit in two rows facing each other. One row of students takes a turn describing themselves in under 30 seconds, and then the other row goes. Once students from both rows finish, they move one chair to the right and repeat the process with a new partner. This rapid-fire activity helps establish relational capacity particularly at the start of a new course.

The Wheel of Emotions helps students identify their feelings within the realm of eight primary emotions: joy, sadness, acceptance, disgust, fear, anger, surprise, and anticipation. There are three layers for each emotion that become more intense as you move from the outer layer to the innermost layer. For example, a student could feel apprehension, fear, or terror; distraction, surprise, or amazement; pensiveness, sadness, or grief. As a social-emotional learning resource, this wheel helps students develop an emotional vocabulary and more accurately pinpoint what they are feeling in any given context.

The Mood Meter is an app that helps students build their emotional vocabulary, identify the root of their feelings, and regulate their emotions. Students plot their current feeling on a grid using specific descriptors, type why they believe they’re experiencing that feeling, choose a regulation strategy to alter their feelings, track their emotions over time, and even share their insights with friends. In distinguishing between different intensity levels of moods, students can determine appropriate responses to potentially triggering stimuli.

Class Catalyst aims to help every child feel seen and supported. The platform connects students with caring adults who are there to help them practice mindfulness strategies. Class Catalyst can help students build trust with adults, reach out when they need support, and de-escalate interpersonal conflicts or overwhelming situations.

These five resources are also great platforms and activities for engaging students in social-emotional Learning.

25. KidConnect

26. This I Believe personal essay

27. If-Then plans

28. SmilingMind

29. Middle School Confidential

More Social Emotional Resources For The Classroom

30. The Privilege Walk enables students to understand the complexities of privilege in American society. Students start in a straight line facing the teacher, who reads statements like, “I received a car for my 16th birthday” or “My parents are married and live in the same home with me.” Students take a step forward for each statement that applies to them. As gaps naturally appear between students, the teacher creates opportunities to foster discussion about why those gaps exist and what they might signify.

31. Positive Penguins helps students develop resilience through understanding how their negative feelings stem from disempowered thoughts. Four positive penguins accompany students on a journey to distinguish between thoughts and facts, consider the larger picture, envision possible responses and consequences, and offer support.

Most of these tools and activities can be implemented at the classroom level. It is important to keep in mind that students stand to gain more skills and receive more benefits when SEL is integrated into the school-wide culture.