Creating An Inclusive Classroom

Creating An Inclusive Classroom

Educators might assume that their classrooms feel safe to all their students. However, creating an inclusive classroom requires active work and a plan.

Creating An Inclusive Classroom

The process of creating an inclusive classroom may come intuitively to some educators, while some features might be surprising. Actively creating an inclusive classroom requires educators and students alike to learn more about what’s going on in the lives of other people in order to more effectively create an inviting and inclusive classroom environment for children of all backgrounds.

To start, here are a few inclusive classroom examples to get educators thinking about nurturing a more inclusive classroom setting.

Inclusive Classroom Examples

Creating an inclusive classroom includes many different aspects of education. Active pursuit of fair-minded and empathy-driven educational practices requires a holistic approach to education and development. While in essence, inclusive education is as simple as being fair to everyone, like so many simple ideas it isn’t easy to implement.


So what does an inclusive classroom look like? According to Harvard University, educators have to, “Learn high-leverage Instructional Moves to make your classroom discussions more inclusive, student-centered, and purposeful.” (Harvard)


Here are some inclusive classroom examples to guide educators in their educational strategy (Harvard):
  • Active learning: It might sound only obliquely related, but the pursuit of active learning strategies and incorporating active learning techniques into curricula will promote an inclusive learning environment. This is because active learning promotes complex thought processes and active attempts to understand other perspectives and ways of thinking.
  • Growth mindset: The inability to accept alternative lifestyles tends to stem from a habit of seeing the world as restrictive and very much set in its ways. Promoting a growth mindset in the classroom enables students to see value in attempting to understand alternative perspectives.
  • Get to know your students: Not every fix will work the same for every student. An educator can create a curriculum designed to promote inclusiveness, and with the very best of intentions, they might neglect the tools necessary for some group that they themselves might never have encountered, for instance. It’s essential for educators to get to know their students and make adjustments to their inclusive classroom activities.
  • Build opportunities for work outside the classroom: The essential purpose of a classroom is to prepare students to succeed in life. However, there are other opportunities to grow ideas. Seek opportunities outside of the classroom to give students the chance to see how ideas work in the wild.
  • Group expectations and guidelines: In order to make the environment safe for all students, it’s important to communicate to all students why it’s important to create an inclusive learning environment for everyone.

Educators may have to ask, “What does an inclusive classroom look like?” The answer will vary from one classroom to the next. In principle, however, the characteristics of an inclusive classroom will include the opportunities for students to learn empathy and the tools for understanding different perspectives.

Inclusive Classroom Activities

Inclusive classroom activities

An inclusive classroom often looks like a thoughtful classroom. The characteristics of an inclusive classroom create a sense that all perspectives, and therefore all students, are embraced and valued. There has to be a sense of belonging achieved through an active pursuit of learning the values and perspectives of all students.


In the pursuit of this strategy of active learning to create an inclusive learning environment, here are a few activities to get educators started (LSA):

Core Values Exercise

Students may have never expressed their values before. While they might not need to define their values to the precision that some adults decide to define theirs, creating a sense of inclusiveness in the classroom might be easier if students have the opportunity to express what they value. This can help them recognize that some people share their values, and some people don’t. The goals of this activity include:

  • Helping students determine their own values
  • Helping students appreciate diversity in values
  • Prompt discussion among students about values

How to do it:

  • Moderated in-class discussion

Dialogue Blocker Exercise

Classrooms are microcosms of the greater community, and community runs on effective communication. Sometimes listening and empathically responding during conversations is excluded. This exercise is meant to create a scenario where students can learn to recognize dialogue blockers, or communication strategies getting in the way of effective communication. In recognizing them, students are better able to avoid them. The goals of this activity include:

  • Helping students recognize dialogue blockers
  • Encourage students toward more introspection during conversation

How to do it:

  • Find an example from a book or show where a conversation was ineffective and left its participants dissatisfied with the results.
  • Through moderated discussion, lead students through the poor communication displayed and talk about possible improvements.

Name Story Exercise

student showing family drawing - creating an inclusive classroom

This inclusive classroom activity is designed to help students see each other and appreciate each other. At the same time, it gives every student the opportunity to feel like they have something inherently valuable about themselves that they can share with the class. The goals of this activity include:

  • Building community
  • Promoting a sense of diversity in the classroom

How to do it:

  • Give every student a chance to tell everyone their first, middle, and last names.
  • At the same time, every student has an opportunity to tell any story about their name that they know or like.

In addition, Soul Shoppe provides an online curriculum that can help promote inclusiveness and understanding within the classroom. Respect Differences, Tools of the Heart, and Allies Against Racism are all programs that help children overcome isolation and strengthen relationships. Find out more about Soul Shoppe’s SEL programs from elementary schools here.

Inclusive Classrooms in a Diverse World

Since every classroom and every set of students presents different needs and challenges, it may be necessary to design exercises more specific to a given classroom or set of students. Everyone comes from different backgrounds, and in order to prepare students for success in life, educators need to create inclusive classrooms to help students feel safe and connected.


Soul Shoppe provides social emotional learning programs and can help you learn how to create a safe space in the classroom or at home. Soul Shoppe encourages empathy and emotional awareness in children. Click here to get into contact with us.


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How To Teach Social Skills

How To Teach Social Skills

Humans are naturally social creatures. Community helps with mental health. While we have a need for community, not everyone has the same abilities to connect with others. Educators are often responsible for sharing the best techniques on how to teach social skills to help create confidence. At Soul Shoppe, we specialize in helping educators and parents learn how to teach and model social skills and social-emotional learning techniques.

Strong social skills create a solid foundation for long-term success in life. A holistic teaching approach includes exercises, lessons, and learning opportunities for children.

How To Teach Social Skills

It’s good to review appropriate social skills with children frequently. As adults, it’s been a long time since we’ve learned appropriate social skills, and we might take for granted that social skills are obvious, when to a child they might not be.

As far as teachable skills go, social skills have an advantage in the classroom. Learning how to socialize in a diverse environment can help skills grow and they will get stronger with practice. Additionally, there are ways to practice them virtually.

How to Teach Social Skills to a Child in the Classroom

Classroom - how to teach social skills

The method for deciding how to teach social skills to a student is similar to teaching other skills. It also has differences.

Teaching social skills to a child is the same as teaching other skills in that it requires demonstration, imitation, and repetition. After all, that’s how we teach math or reading skills.

Designing how to teach social skills is a different process in its particulars.

In order to do it well, an educator must follow the interests of the child. Children come from different backgrounds, and an educator must adjust and respond to this.

An educator must learn to ask the right questions, discovering what social skills the child needs to strengthen and which ones they already understand.

Roleplaying can be a powerful tool for an educator who teaches social skills to elementary school students. With demonstrations of example scenarios, children can practice social skills in controlled settings.

A more complicated, but essential, aspect of teaching social skills to a child includes teaching empathy. Asking questions like, “Can you imagine how that makes them feel?” will encourage this.

Children have not yet learned all the coping skills that they will eventually need, and social skills involve so many emotions that they will inevitably create strong emotions. Work within the limitations of the students involved. Practicing to the point of frustration can hinder results. (Harvard)

In the end, the most important aspect of teaching social skills is being a good role model. Children learn so much by watching that the most powerful teaching aid for any educator is their own behavior.

List of Social Skills to Teach

Classroom activity

It’s important not to assume that social skills might come naturally to someone. No one knows the assumptions by which anyone else is raised, and it is the responsibility of educators to create a setting where children can learn the skills they need to prepare for a rewarding life.

When deciding how to teach social skills to students, begin with a list of subjects. Treat it like any other discipline. Here is a list of subjects to help you get started:

  • Sharing. For some children, sharing their thoughts and feelings doesn’t come naturally. Or, they might be nervous about sharing thoughts and feelings. Additionally, they might not know when it’s socially acceptable or appropriate. Encouraging sharing is like granting permission, which helps to foster this.
  • Listening. Children typically have the natural ability to absorb what’s going on around them. However, not all children have a natural instinct to quietly listen and pay attention to the people around them. You can use listening skills activities such as those outlined here, to help children develop these skills.
  • Following directions. Cooperating with community expectations is a large part of developing social skills. Children shouldn’t necessarily learn to follow instructions without thinking, but it’s valuable to learn how to cooperate with the goals of the group and recognize when an authority figure has a reasonable direction for their goals.
  • Collaborating and cooperating. Children must learn to collaborate and cooperate with their peers. This is a large aspect of creating strong social skills. It’s valuable for children to learn how to respect and participate in community activities. We provide some ideas for cooperative games for kids here.
  • Patience. This is an important skill and can be particularly challenging to develop in a world of instant gratification. Many social situations require waiting calmly and graciously. Intentionally slowing some things down in the classroom and creating situations where children must wait will help them practice patience.
  • Empathy. Understanding how others may feel and the ability to consider these feelings is a pillar of social awareness. Teaching empathy can be incorporated through everyday interactions and through planned activities. We provide some ideas here.
  • Respecting boundaries. We don’t necessarily need to know why people have certain boundaries. However, it’s important children learn to respect the boundaries that people set.
  • Positivity. It’s amazing how powerful it can be to put a positive spin on realities and how much this can improve social interactions.

For some children, a few of these social skills will seem intuitive. When deciding how to teach social skills to a child, it’s important to recognize that not all social skills are intuitive, and yet all social skills should be learned and exercised.  (Homer)

Teaching Social Skills Virtually

If unable to teach social skills in the classroom, or if an educator would like assistance teaching social skills, you can receive help with virtual social learning activities. Soul Shoppe provides social emotional learning programs for children and educators that can be completed online. Soul Shoppe strategies encourage empathy and emotional awareness in children. Whether helping in the classroom or assisting parents at home, Soul Shoppe brings social skills to the forefront of the discussion. Click for more information on SEL Programs for Elementary Schools or our parent support programs.

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How To Create A Safe Space

How To Create A Safe Space

Education in general, but especially for children, rests on an assumption that new ideas will be explored–new thoughts will be thought. Some ideas cause discomfort, and some thoughts feel dangerous. When encountering new ideas or thinking new thoughts, children will worry sometimes whether what they think is somehow bad or wrong. Even if the thought isn’t wrong or bad, if it feels uncomfortable children are less likely to speak about them out loud or ask questions to better understand the new information. This new information might be an unsettling experience in life. Other experiences might include interactions with discrimination which makes environments feel unsafe.

For this reason, it’s essential to create a safe space in every classroom setting where children feel they’re allowed to ask any question without attracting negative reactions. In this article, we’ll explore what makes a safe space and how to create a safe space in the classroom.

How To Create A Safe Space

What is a Safe Space?

Safe space can refer to actual space, such as a classroom, or can even indicate a safe space ideologically. These can also be the same thing. Regardless, it’s important to create some clear and specific context where the boundaries clearly define where and when there will be no judgment.

There are different schools of thought around how to create a safe space, inside and outside the classroom. It’s vital that classrooms are safe spaces, and that they lend themselves to becoming safe spaces. Ideas are being tested already, and so some thinkers push a narrative of embracing a strategy of turning classrooms into “brave spaces.” In a brave space, educators tackle controversy with civility and moderate conversation to aid in ownership of intentions and their impact.

How to Create a Safe Space in the Classroom

children with hands raised in the classroom

Creating a safe space in the classroom starts with the teacher. An educator sets the tone of their classroom before students even set foot in there.

Since the crux of safe spaces stems from First-Amendment rights, it’s possible to begin with a conversation about the First Amendment. Every student–every person–has to understand the content and the implications of the First Amendment of the U.S. constitution. At the same time, it weighs on an educator to mediate productive dialogue, rather than permit a conversation that goes anywhere. While the goal is to create a classroom environment where students feel free to speak their minds, there are ways to be honest while showing respect.

Understanding how to speak both freely and respectfully is a necessary step in creating a safe space.

Educators might moderate this dialogue about First Amendment rights by…

  • Leading conversation on the subject of hurtful terms and what terms to use instead. If a child has never had an opportunity to learn that a given term may offend in some cases, then it is valuable to hear that in a safe environment.
  • Cultivate empathy. In the context of the classroom, conversations about understanding and empathizing with the perspectives of others turns into a skill. Skills have technical aspects, and they can be improved by practice and repetition. Discussions about what other people might think or feel helps create an environment of mutual respect.
  • Moderate conversations between peers when one of them has offended the other. Sometimes children haven’t learned the tools to communicate their feelings honestly and with empathy. Educators are in a position to use social situations as teaching opportunities.
  • Encourage students to speak up when they hear potentially damaging or derogatory speech. Children are more likely to speak up and honestly appraise what they hear if they’re not worried about possible negative consequences of speaking up. So, make it clear that nothing punitive happens when people do speak out about derogatory speech.
  • Create opportunities for open discussion, like “circle time” or otherwise age-appropriate contexts that enable a sense that this time is protected–i.e., a safe space.

Project Empty

Try our Project Empty Challenge and create a Peace Corner. Somewhere in your home or educational space, create a protected place with tools that promote calm. Tailor it to the needs of your students (and yourself). Any art, comfy cushions, or art supplies that promote a sense of calm can create a space that feels safe and welcoming.

Creating Safe Spaces

happy child in classroom - how to create a safe space

A classroom has to be a place free of fear, or at least somewhere that encourages bravery. If an educator wants to prepare their students to have rewarding lives, then it is essential to create a safe space where all students feel welcome, seen, and embraced. To do this means teaching techniques for respect and empathy and talking about some hard ideas. In the end, creating a safe space in the classroom empowers students for the rest of their lives.

Soul Shoppe provides social emotional learning programs and can help you learn how to create a safe space in the classroom or at home. Soul Shoppe encourages empathy and emotional awareness in children. Click for more information on SEL Programs for Elementary Schools.

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How to Express Your Feelings in Words

How to Express Your Feelings in Words

Feelings can be complicated, and especially as a child, they can be difficult to navigate and express. It’s therefore important to help children find the words they need to vocalize their feelings.

When we talk about expressing feelings, a few clarifications are needed. Feelings and emotions are not the same. It’s tempting to use the words interchangeably, but it isn’t quite accurate to do so.

According to an article from Wake Forest University, feelings result from many different sensations, such as hunger or weariness. Feelings can come from emotions as well. Feelings are always conscious experiences, even if sometimes it’s unclear what’s causing them. (Wake)

Emotions are more complicated and unconscious. They are responses to layered experiences. According to the book, Discovering Psychology, they include “a subjective experience, a physiological response, and a behavioral or expressive response.” (Very Well)

The first major step in discovering how to express your feelings in words is distinguishing whether the sensations are feelings or emotions.

How To Express Your Feelings in Words

kids talking in classroom - how to express feelings in words

Words to Describe Emotions and Feelings

In general, expressing emotions takes fewer words. At the same time, it requires courage. Children might find it difficult to voice the emotions they’re experiencing.

Help your child or students with vocabulary that enables communication of emotions.

The six basic emotions are:

  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Joy
  • Love
  • Sadness
  • Surprise

After a child identifies one of these emotions, then it becomes easier to start talking about feelings.

Feelings can come from emotions. For example:

  • Envy can be a feeling that comes from anger.
  • People feel panic as a result of fear.
  • Relief can be a feeling proceeding from joy.
  • Sometimes people feel longing because of the emotion of love.
  • Humiliation can be a feeling that comes from sadness.
  • Silliness can come from surprise.


Expressing Emotions Examples

Feelings and emotions can be complex. Panic might come from fear, but then it might lead to anger. Feelings of shame can sometimes stem from a moment that started as joyful.

Once an emotion or feeling has been identified, it’s easier to choose appropriate coping mechanisms.

Among the most effective tools for expressing feelings in healthy ways is the, “I feel…When people…I need…Will you please…” formation.  (SoulShoppe)

This formation may need to be broken down, especially for younger children.

Start with just the “I feel…” part.

For example…

  • I feel frustrated.
  • I feel worried.
  • I feel nervous.

After children get used to identifying their feelings and emotions, start asking them to identify the cause of their feelings. Use the formation, “I feel…when people…”

For example…

  • I feel frustrated when people talk about how I pronounce words.
  • I feel worried when people remind me I have a math quiz.
  • I feel nervous when people talk about how I wear glasses.

Once they start getting the hang of associating their feelings with things happening in their lives, start asking them to begin looking for the reason those events matter. Use the “I feel…when people…I need…” formation.

For example…

  • I feel frustrated when people talk about how I pronounce words. I need to feel safe when I talk.
  • I feel worried when people remind me I have a math quiz. I need to learn my math problems.
  • I feel nervous when people talk about how I wear my glasses. I need to feel safe wearing my glasses.

The point of this formation is to give children more tools to communicate what’s going on inside them.

The last step is giving children the tools to ask for what they need. For example…

  • I feel frustrated when people talk about how I pronounce words. I need to feel safe when I talk. Will you please stop pointing out how I pronounce words?
  • I feel worried when people remind me I have a math quiz. I need to learn my math problems. Will you please help me study?
  • I feel nervous when people talk about how I wear my glasses. I need to feel safe wearing my glasses. Will you please stop talking about my glasses?

Why a Child has Difficulty Expressing Emotions

kid talking and smiling

The reason a child might have trouble expressing emotions and feelings is simply that they’ve experienced fewer things than an adult, and some feelings are new. As a result, they’ve had fewer opportunities to learn the terminology necessary to express their emotions and feelings. According to Vanderbilt University, “Children get angry, sad, frustrated, nervous, happy, or embarrassed, but they often do not have the words to talk about how they are feeling. Instead, they sometimes act out these emotions in very physical and inappropriate ways.” (Vanderbilt) Children can end up experiencing frustration when they haven’t yet learned the words necessary to explain what they are feeling.

Therefore, teaching your child to identify and express emotions and feelings is of paramount importance. Gently helping children to better grasp the vocabulary and tools to identify and express emotions will prepare them for a far more rewarding life. This is because when they learn how to express their feelings in words they can then progress to learning coping mechanisms to express their feelings in healthy ways.

Soul Shoppe provides social emotional learning programs for children. For more than twenty years we’ve created tools and empowered educators to incorporate emotional intelligence into curriculum. Soul Shoppe strategies encourage empathy and emotional awareness in children. Whether helping in the classroom or assisting parents at home, Soul Shoppe brings social skills to the forefront of the discussion. Click for more information on SEL Programs for Elementary Schools or our parent support programs.

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Teaching Respect Activities

Teaching Respect Activities

When you have respect for someone, you admire them for their abilities, qualities, and achievements. Respect is something that individuals crave. Both inward respect, toward self, and outward respect, toward others are essential in creating thriving environments.

Respect can be taught in an emotionally positive way at home and in a classroom setting.

According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “Respect has great importance in everyday life.” (Stanford). Respect for oneself and for the community can have a profound determining effect on a child’s development. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy goes on to say that, “how our lives go depends every bit as much on whether we respect ourselves.” As educators, it’s of high importance to include learning opportunities in curricula that give students tools to learn to respect themselves and their communities.

Teaching respect in the classroom through activities is worth the effort. When children learn to respect differences, it benefits them for the rest of their lives. At Soul Shoppe, we have an entire curriculum available online for grades K-6 that’s dedicated to teaching how to respect differences. Click for more information.

In addition, we’ve put together a list of games to help get you started.

Respect Games for Students

Everybody is Unique (EducationWorld)

This game is appropriate for grades K-8. The basic premise is to create positive emotional relationships with the things that make people different from each other.


  • Paper
  • Art supplies


  • Begin by writing the word “Unique” in some prominent place in your classroom–chalkboard or on a big piece of paper on the wall.
  • Students write down positive aspects of other people that are different from themselves. Emphasize choosing unique characteristics that they like.
  • Lead a discussion on these unique characteristics. Talk about why differences are important and good.

Compliment Journal (Drake)

Teacher with student as they journal - teaching respect activities

For this game, students will systematically get in the habit of using positive language in their interactions and will try to find positive features in other people.


  • A journal for every student.


  • Every day for a week, students will give a sincere compliment to someone.
  • They will create a weekly planner with the provided journal and track their progress.
  • Every day they track who they complimented, who complimented them, and how they reacted.

Simon Says “Who are You?” (Education World)

This game encourages students to celebrate their differences and similarities.


  • None


  • Play Simon Says, but form Simon’s Instructions by mentioning some features people sometimes share.
    • “Simon says, everyone with long hair, stand up.”
    • “Simon says, everyone who likes cats, touch your head.”

What Respect Sounds Like (AliciaOrtega)

The purpose of this game is to encourage children to imagine respectful behaviors in their lives outside the classroom.


  • Flashcards
  • Markers


  • Prepare cards ahead of time with words corresponding to respectful human traits and behaviors:
    • Saying, “Thank you.”
    • Sharing your chips.
    • Asking to leave.
  • In the classroom, ask your students to sort the flashcards into two piles:
    • What respect sounds like.
    • What respect looks like.

Respectful Stories (Drake)

Teacher reading

Movies and books are good teaching tools if they’re used right. Stories are places where children can interact with hard ideas in a safe environment.


  • A book or half-hour TV show
  • Notebook and pencil (optional, but useful for keeping discussion organized)


  • Watch the show or read the book with the students.
  • Take notes during the show or book.
  • After watching the show or reading the book, have an organized discussion.
  • Ask, “who was respectful?” “Who wasn’t respectful?”

Respectful Vocabulary (Drake)

Understanding more words about a subject helps students comprehend and use the lessons to a higher degree. In this game, students will learn synonyms for and terms related to “respect.”


  • Dictionary
  • Construction paper
  • Markers


  • All students look up the word “respect” in a dictionary.
  • They will find at least ten synonyms or terms related to the word “respect” or “respectful.”
  • Everyone writes down the terms they’ve looked up on strips of construction paper.
  • Now make a chain from all the strips. Celebrate every foot in length the chain accumulates.

Teaching Respect in the Classroom

This is far from an exhaustive list of respect activities for elementary students that educators might incorporate into curricula. Games like these take time, but they engage students on multiple levels and encourage them to internalize ideas and practices encouraging respect in and outside of the classroom. These activities can also be used by parents when homeschooling.


Teaching respect helps to promote cooperation and acceptance. The classroom is the place that children associate with learning important lessons to prepare them for success in life. Therefore, it’s the perfect place to incorporate activities on respect.


Soul Shoppe provides social emotional learning programs. For more than twenty years they’ve been devoted to creating tools and empowering educators of all stripes to incorporate emotional intelligence into their curricula. Their strategies are effective in encouraging empathy and emotional awareness in children. Click for more information on SEL Programs for Elementary Schools. Click here for the respect differences online program.


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Self-Esteem Group Activities

Self-Esteem Group Activities

We learn by doing. It’s true of everyone, especially children. And for certain things, behavioral learning is the most effective way to learn. Skills that depend on data and knowledge, such as mathematics, can start with data and theory, which might get strengthened with practice. Emotionally dependent skills, such as self-esteem, may be better suited for an activity, and an experience-based learning environment for the lessons to land.

Life experiences are the sources of self-esteem. Children want to feel included in communities, and experiences of rejection or acceptance into communities dramatically impact their sense of self-esteem. There are any number of reasons children might feel accepted or rejected by their peers. Children might highlight differences between each other, or affirm similarities. Some children may make decisions based on observations of what they see in the world, such as self-identifying that they are different. This may lead them to make judgments about themselves without any direct interactions. So many factors contribute to the development of self-esteem that educators can never anticipate all of them.

Self-esteem is among the most important factors in the development of any child. Good self-esteem can be the determining factor in the long-term success of a child, while damaged self-esteem can leave children struggling for the rest of their lives.

For these reasons, it’s imperative to include worthwhile self-esteem-building group activities into educational curriculum.

Self-Esteem Group Activities for Youth

Group activities are excellent for building self-esteem in children. Though it’s not the only deciding factor in developing self-esteem, community integration has a powerful determining effect on developing self-esteem.

The “I’m afraid to…” activity

This is an activity based on…

  1. Cultivating confidence that it’s safe to express feelings aloud.
  2. Recognizing there are people out there with the same fears.

All the students in the class write down something they’re afraid of. Then there’s an open discussion where the question is posed, “What would it be like if that happened?” It can be helpful to adopt an attitude that if the fear came to pass, it might not be as bad as anticipated.

The Gratitude Journal

children writing in journals

Creating a habit of looking for good things happening around them encourages children to look for positive aspects of themselves. For this activity, every child has a designated journal for this purpose. On a weekly basis, they are encouraged to write positive things they notice about other people. Then, two or three times every month, have a discussion with the whole class on the highlights from their gratitude journals.

Positive Rephrasing

In this activity, children will say their statements of self-challenge. Things like, “I am a bad writer,” or “I don’t have a lot of friends.” Then the student rephrases the statements into more positive statements. I.e. “I come up with creative ideas when I write” or “I have a great best friend.”

What are Good Traits Discussion

For this activity, students write down traits that they consider “good.” I.e. Good at sports–funny–kind–etc. After making the list, have a discussion in class about the traits. What do these traits look like in a person? How do you cultivate them?

Cooperative Boardgames

Games are fun, and they can either encourage individual conflict, or they can be tools for developing cooperation and a sense of being a valued part of the community. Play board games, and put children into small teams so that they can cooperate on decisions and work together.

Write the End Goal

It can be frustrating being a child. Children can have trouble feeling certain about having any agency in their own lives. With this activity, children write down outcomes they would like to see in their lives. Treating a child’s plans seriously affirms their sense that their actions and thoughts matter.

How to Build Self-Esteem in Students

Happy kids - Self-esteem group activities

In the end, there are a lot of potential self-esteem group activities that encourage growth. Determining which ones are best to choose will depend on the educators, the students, and many other factors. Take into consideration factors that contribute to self-esteem when creating activities. Factors such as…

  • Definitions–who am I? What does that say about me?
  • Relationships–who am I in my relationships? How do they change me?
  • Accomplishments–what do I do well? How have I shown improvement? And, alternately, do I wish to change any of my habits?

Self-esteem is complicated, but the factors contributing to positive self-esteem tend toward common experiences. If that’s true, then it’s possible to create environments that encourage improved self-esteem.


Soul Shoppe is a social emotional learning company. For more than twenty years they’ve been devoted to creating tools and empowering educators of all stripes to incorporate emotional intelligence into their curricula. Their strategies are effective in encouraging empathy and emotional awareness in children. Through these strategies and their Peacemaker Program they help decrease conflicts in playgrounds across the country. Click for more information on SEL Programs for Elementary Schools.


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