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Valentine's Day Social Emotional Learning Activities on Self-Compassion and Kindness

February is such an exciting month for school counselors because it’s the month that both National School Counseling Week (Feb 6-10, 2024) and Valentine’s Day happens! NSCW is important because as school counselors, we all know the importance of recognizing and celebrating our profession. Valentine's Day is also a great time to teach social emotional skills (SEL skills) to students. This holiday is all about love and so it's a great opportunity to teach students about the importance of self-compassion, self-love, kindness, and empathy. Read on for some ideas to start planning those fun, engaging, and celebratory NSCW and some exciting Valentine’s social-emotional learning activities.

Kids Books about Self-Compassion

Valentine’s Day is also a great time to teach students about self-compassion which can be so helpful for their emotional development. This holiday is often associated with romantic love, but it's important to remind students that self-love is important too! Encourage students to think about ways they can show love and compassion to themselves, such as choosing helpful thoughts, taking breaks when they need them, and setting aside time for self-care. To get the conversation started, you can also read some picture books on self-compassion like:

Listening with My Heart: A Story of Kindness and Self-Compassion by Gabi Garcia: Gabi Garcia is one of my favorite children’s authors, and I adore this book! Listening with My Heart is a children's picture book about a girl named Esperanza who learns about self-compassion and kindness after a school play doesn't go as planned. The story encourages kids to treat themselves with the same kindness and compassion that they show others. Along with the story, the book includes simple mindfulness activities. It's a useful read for teaching children about empathy and self-care.

I Am Love: A Book of Compassion by Susan Verde and Peter Reynolds: This is a cute board book that encourages children to understand and express love through kindness and gratitude. It guides readers to use compassion and tenderness to overcome difficult emotions. The story promotes the idea that love can transform and heal, especially when facing stress. It's a cute bookto help kids recognize and nurture love in themselves and in the world around them.

The Self Compassion Workbook for Kids by Lorraine Hobbs and Amy Balentine: This is a workbook about building mindful self-compassion and includes activities like mindfulness meditations, reflective journaling, movement, and arts and crafts activities.

Why You Should Normalize Making Mistakes and Model Self-Compassion

Children learn by example, so it’s important to model self-compassion. Speak kindly to yourself, point out when you make mistakes, and show children that it's okay not to be perfect. Help them practice what to say by saying things like, "It's okay to make mistakes," or "I'm learning, and that’s great." Frame mistakes as an expected and valuable part of the learning process and an important part of being human. Share stories of your own mistakes and failures, and also of some of these “famous failures,” or people who have failed, not given up, and gone on to find great success like:

💜 Thomas Edison: Before inventing the successful version of the light bulb, Edison reportedly failed thousands of times. He is often quoted as saying, "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."

💜 Abraham Lincoln: Lincoln faced numerous defeats in his political career, including losing several elections, before becoming one of the most influential presidents of the United States.

💜 Walt Disney: Before creating Disney, Walt was fired from a newspaper for "lacking imagination" and "having no original ideas." His early businesses also faced bankruptcy.

💜 Oprah Winfrey: Before becoming a media mogul, she was fired from her first job as a television reporter and was told she was "unfit for TV."

Play the Donut Worry About Making Mistakes Game!

Check out my Donut Worry About Making Mistakes Game! It's a fun way for kids to learn that mistakes are expected and that messing up is part of learning and an important part of being a person. They get to choose helpful thoughts when things don't go as planned, all while playing a fun game that teaches them to think in new ways.

Here's What You’ll Get:

💜 A digital game on Google Slides with 30 different scenarios. This works great for online telehealth sessions or interactive whiteboards.

💜 Printed cards with the scenarios for when you're working in person, or just want to switch things up.

💜 A ready-to-print board game with dice, spinner, and cards in both color and black and white.

💜 A poster with game rules so everyone knows how to be a good sport.

💜 Worksheets to reinforce the idea that it's okay to make mistakes.

This set is great for teaching kids about self-awareness, how to manage their feelings, and how to make smart choices. You can use it for online learning or in the classroom. It's also a neat way to introduce kids to some basic CBT concepts, like how to switch up their thinking to help them handle challenges better. Plus, it's a great tool for boosting their confidence, growth mindset, and grit.

Read the reviews to see what folks are saying about this game here. This game's a hit with counselors, psychologists, and teachers—really anyone who's into helping kids with social-emotional skills. And if you're a parent reinforcing SEL at home, this could be a helpful addition to your toolkit.

This is also included at a discount in the Skills for Big Feelings Super Ultimate GROWING Bundle! Skills for Big Feelings is a comprehensive SEL curriculum for teaching kids relaxation, regulation, and coping techniques in a fun way through crafts, games, coloring, trauma-informed mindfulness, body-based strategies and CBT techniques.

Fostering Self-Kindness in Kids with Positive Self-Talk and Affirmations

Encourage children to speak to themselves as they would to a friend in a difficult situation by using helpful thoughts. You can even use the concept of an “inner friend” by teaching children to speak to themselves as they would speak to a good friend, supporting and encouraging their “inner friend” especially in tough times. You can even try role-play scenarios so children can practice responding to negative self-talk with compassion. This can help them learn to replace critical or unhelpful thoughts with more supportive thoughts.

You can use positive affirmations to build self-compassion with phrases like “I am enough,” “I am worthy of good things,” and “I deserve to be happy.” These helpful affirmations and positive phrases can be powerful tools for children to think and repeat.

Teaching Kindness and Empathy on Valentine’s Day

February and Valentine's Day is also a great time to teach students about kindness! Students can learn about the value of showing appreciation to others. This can be done through small acts of kindness, like making cards for classmates or writing kind notes to teachers and other staff like paraprofessionals, bus drivers, custodians, and hall monitors. It’s also a great opportunity to teach students about empathy.

Students can learn about the importance of understanding and feeling for others. Encourage students to consider how their actions and words may affect others, and to think about ways they can show kindness and compassion to their classmates and friends. Some of my favorite picture books on empathy include:

Stand In My Shoes: Kids Learning About Empathy by Bob Sornson: This is a great book that you can also do some really great projects with! You can use different pictures of shoes and have the students imagine and create stories about the person's life who might have been wearing these shoes (a nice flexible thinking activity.) This can help the children put themselves in someone else's perspective or frame of mind. You could even attach different role-play scenarios to the pictures.

The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig: This is a sweet story about Brian, the invisible boy, who wasn’t seen by anyone. He was always left behind and forgotten, until one day the new student named Justin came to school. Brian is seen by Justin after a while, and they become friends. This story is very relatable to a lot of students because many feel invisible, but students will learn that they can be to one to make an invisible person visible.

Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems: This is a story about a monster who has trouble scaring people. Then he finally tries to scare someone named Sam. Sam cries and then tells him a sad story about why he’s crying. When he heard Sam’s point of view, he showed some perspective-taking skills and empathy and changed his mind. He then decided to be a wonderful friend instead of a terrible monster!

The Red Bicycle: The Extraordinary Story of One Ordinary Bicycle by Jude Isabella and Simone Shin: This is an amazing book for upper elementary kids about a boy in the United States who has a very beloved bicycle but grows out of it, so donates it. The bike is then shipped to Burkina Faso in West Africa. The story shows how many uses this bicycle can get across the world, and it really helps build perspective-taking and empathy skills for children. They even use the bike as an ambulance there!

In the back of the book there are a lot of ideas about what kids can do to help others, as well as bicycle relief organizations that kids can donate their bikes to. This book is part of CitizenKid which is a collection of books that inform children about the world and inspire them to be better global citizens. I’m definitely going to be reading more of these valuable books!!

For books on perspective-taking skills, which is the cognitive side of empathy, check out this blog post. For more books about KINDNESS check out this blog post, and for more activities on kindness, check this blog out here!

Valentine’s Day Social Emotional Learning Activities for Counselors and Teachers

Are you looking for a fun and meaningful way to teach social-emotional skills to your elementary school students this Valentine's Day? This Valentine's Day SEL Bundle is perfect for counselors and educators looking to engage their students in Valentine’s Day counseling activities targeting SEL skills like emotional intelligence, expected behavior, positive self-talk and affirmations, feelings identification, social-awareness, and self-awareness.

This bundle includes a variety of activities such as mazes, puzzles, dough and drawing mats, feelings color by codes, games, and more! I’ve even included a "Would You Rather?" yoga game that is perfect for a movement break or a classroom incentive and your kids are sure to love it! These activities are perfect for both individual, whole classroom, or small groups and are sure to be a hit with your kids!

With this Valentine's Day Social Emotional Learning Activities Bundle, you'll have everything you need to create fun and engaging sessions. You can purchase each item separately or you get a huge discount on all 7 resources with the bundle that includes:

💜 Valentine’s Themed Feelings Matching Puzzles: 28 three-piece puzzles and 28 two-piece puzzles with feelings conversation dice, a matching game, and 8 bonus pages

💜 Valentine's Expected and Unexpected Behavior Game: 30 various Winter and Valentine's Day themed social skills scenarios and sorting mats

💜 Positive Affirmations and Feelings Mazes: 6 mazes in black and white and 6 mazes in color to enhance self-esteem and feelings identification, and dice to extend the conversation

💜 Would You Rather Valentine's Day Brain Break Yoga Game: 30 This or That stretching prompts for a fun Valentine's Day themed movement activity

💜 Valentine's Day Feelings Dough and Drawing Emotions Mats with Scenarios: Includes 44 different feelings mats and 40 scenario cards

💜 Color by Code Hot Cocoa Feelings Identification: digital and printed differentiated activity with 6 coloring pages and 16 feelings prompts

💜 Color by Code Penguin Feelings Identification: digital and printed versions differentiated with 6 coloring pages and 14 feelings prompts

Valentine’s Day Social Emotional Learning Board Game Bundle

This Valentine's Day-themed SEL board game bundle includes ten digital and print board games that are designed to help kids explore key SEL skills.

This V-day board game bundle is designed to target crucial social-emotional learning competencies including self-awareness, self-management, and responsible decision-making. By playing these games, students can enhance their understanding of feelings, perspective taking, problem-solving, expected behavior choices, and matching reactions to challenges.

This resource is ideal for counselors, social workers, psychologists, speech therapists, occupational therapists, teachers, homeschooling parents, and anyone else committed to nurturing self-awareness and social-awareness skills in children.

Check out what's inside:

💜 10 Digital and Printable Game Boards Covering 5 SEL Topics

💜 40 Scenario cards for discussion and dice, pawns, and spinners

💜 Size of the Challenge Poster, Feelings Poster, and Rules for Playing a Game Poster

You’ll Get Two Games for Each Topic:

💜 Is this a good choice? - Discuss the difference between good and poor choices.

💜 What would you do? - Explore how children would react in various situations.

💜 How are they feeling? - Dive into the emotions of the people in the scenarios.

💜 What is the size of the challenge? - Determine the size of problems and challenges.

💜 Does the reaction match the size of the challenge? - Discuss whether reactions are appropriate for the situation.

These game boards are not just limited to the 40 included scenario cards. You can also use them as open-ended board games with your own prompts, making them incredibly versatile for many different kids. Whether you're working with kids in person, through telehealth, or want to use these with a bigger group on a smartboard, I’ve got you covered!

Kindness Activities for Elementary School Students

If you're looking for activities to teach kids about kindness, caring, and empathy, look no further! This bundle includes so many activities for both lower elementary and upper elementary students!

See What's Included:

💜 Game Board with spinner, pawns, and dice

💜 64 Scenario Cards with a Digital and Printable Version

💜 Kind Choices and Unkind Choices Sorting Mats

💜 8 Page Social Story Booklet in Digital and Printable Formats

💜 24 Game Cards for Discussion and Reflection

💜 25 Coloring Pages and Worksheets

💜 Kindness Story with Reflection Questions and Writing Response

💜 Science of Kindness Worksheet and Questions

💜 Graphic Organizers and Cut and Paste Worksheets

💜 Quotes for Discussion Prompts

💜 6 Page Kindness and Caring Flipbook

💜 Was I Kind Today? Self-Reflection Worksheet and Dice with Reflection Questions

💜 "I Can" Learning Statements Poster

💜 Playing a Game Visual Poster

💜 S.M.A.R.T. IEP and Treatment Plan Objectives for Easy Goal Writing!

💜 Data Collection Sheet

💜 Caught Being Kind Notes Home and Editable Letter to Families About the Topic

💜 Kindness Bingo and Suggested Companion Resources

💜 Ideas to Extend and Practice the Concept

Each of these three sets are included in the Kindness and Caring bundle. These are also a part of my Social Skills Treasury Growing Bundle, which is a comprehensive and engaging series of social skills activities and resources designed to help you address lagging skills with kids in a fun way!

These resources can be purchased separately or you can grab these at a discount in my Social Skills Treasury Kindness and Caring Bundle or in the Social Skills Treasury Growing Bundle!

As a bonus, I am also offering these kindness bingo and dice game! Just subscribe to my resource library. And if you're already a member, you can find the set here!

Ideas for Celebrating National School Counseling Week

In addition to Valentine's Day, February is also the time of year to celebrate National School Counseling Week (NSCW!) School counselors are encouraged to celebrate and advocate for their profession during this time of year. The week offers a chance to highlight the impact of school counselors through various activities like community awareness campaigns, fun events, and school-wide celebrations. However, it's important to recognize the pressures that school counselors and educators may face; if feeling overwhelmed, it's okay to scale back or not participate at all in the festivities this year. You'll find no guilt or "shoulds" here.

For those looking to partake, there are numerous ways to engage students and staff, from creative bulletin boards showcasing student work to distributing treats and informative flyers about the counseling program's impact. Activities might include outlining the number of initiatives undertaken, like social-emotional learning lessons or how many resources were distributed to students in need. Each year, the American School Counselor Association provides resources and a theme to help guide celebrations. In 2023, the theme was “helping students dream big." In 2024 there is a photo challenge and the theme is "School Counseling: Standards-Based, Student-Focused.". Check out some NSCW ideas and activities, including a free bulletin board, worksheets, and bookmarks to celebrate school counseling over on this blog post!



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