Social Emotional Learning in the Elementary Classroom: Making Good Choices

Welcome back to our series on social emotional learning in the elementary classroom!  We are going to be chatting about some effective strategies and procedures you can easily and quickly apply to your classroom for improvement in student self-awareness, self-control, and social skills.  During the month of January, we will cover four different SEL topics.  January has always been my favorite month to teach, because I was always able to do a reset with the students I already had a relationship with.  We could then really hone in and improve SEL skills to in turn take a deep dive into instruction.  The less you are having to stop and redirect student behavior, the more time you have to teach.  We know that is more important now than ever.  This month, we will cover four topics that I felt were most needed right now that could cover the most behaviors: listening, making good choices, kindness, and resilience.  Let's talk MAKING GOOD CHOICES this week.

Making good choices activities for kids at school

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Often times, students can be impulsive and make choices without stopping to think.  The goal of these lessons and ideas is to provide students with the strategies they need to stop, think, and make a good choice.  By teaching them these, students will begin to develop self control and self discipline.

I have found that students need explicit SEL instruction all throughout the year.  The problem is that we don't have the time to do that.  I tried to think of ways you could easily and quickly incorporate it into your day, because it's so important to keep your classroom running smoothly and to decrease undesirable behaviors.  The best time I feel to teach these, if you can, is first thing in the morning, during morning meeting.  I have come up with some quick mini lessons, along with quick and fun activities, to teach each SEL topic.  This week, we are going to look at some strategies to practice making good choices in your classroom.

Provide Your Students with Opportunities

Provide students with choice throughout the day.  Have discussions about those choices and if they are the right or wrong choice in that situation.  You might do so during independent work time by discussing how different choices could extend that time or not help us focus.  During centers, you can provide them with choice in choosing the best activity to fit their current needs.

You can give them different scenarios during morning meeting.  Have them sort the scenarios by happy and sad choices, or good and poor choices.  Have a discussion about what makes a choice good and what makes one poor.

Making good choices activities for kids at school

Visual Checklist

Students, especially in the beginning, need a visual reminder in place.  You could print this as a poster or make a mini one for students' desks.  Remind them before making a choice, it's important to stop and calm down so that they can think before acting.  Teach them how to weigh the positives and negatives.  How can this choice affect me or others around me?  What might happen next?  Then, they are more equipped to make a good choice.

Making good choices activities for kids at school



Practice Making Choices within a Story


Making good choices activities for kids at school

The What Should Danny Do? series is perfect for practicing making choices within a text.  In each of the stories, the reader get to make choices for Danny for a whole day.  The choice that is made determines what happens next in the story.  Students get to see in real time the consequences that choices can have.  After reading the story, read it again and have students make different choices to see how his whole day can change just by making one choice.  They also learn that just because you made a bad choice does not mean that you can't correct it.  Students learn that you can turn your day around by making better choices.  The way that the story stops at each choice allows students to also practice that stop and think time, as well as weighing the positives and negatives of each choice.

Making good choices activities for kids at school

Read What Should Danny Do? School Day as an interactive read aloud during the week you teach making choices.  You can read through several choices each day and then go back and make different choices.  I have made sticky note questions that you can ask each day as you read to help lead student discussions on the topic of making good choices.

Making good choices activities for kids at school

You can also bring in the other books from the series to give students even more practice at making choices.  What Should Darla Do? is super fun, as well!  You can also get these fun dolls that you can use in your classroom.  There is a Darla doll and a Danny doll.  These would be fun to let students hold for a given amount of time if they are caught making a good choice.

Songs and Videos



Making Good Choices Mini Lessons


Making good choices activities for kids at school

I am going to take you through the five days of mini lessons that you can do to teach students strategies for making good choices.  On day one's lesson, you and your students will make this anchor chart in which you will sort different school situations into two different columns.  Discuss the consequences of each choice and how they can affect others.  

Making good choices activities for kids at school

Students will make their own and add it to their SEL notebook.  I would ask students to draw and label 2-3 different choices each that might happen at school that are good choices and poor choices.

Making good choices activities for kids at school

On day two, students will learn that the choices you make can come from the heart.  Get them in the practice of asking themselves how a specific choice can affect others.  I call these choices "good hearted choices."  One of our goals in these SEL lessons to transform students' hearts.  We want them to make good choices because they know it's the right thing to do for themselves and for the good of those around them.  Appealing to their hearts is very powerful.  Go through some different situations that could happen in the classroom and talk through some of the choices they might make.  Discuss how those choices might make them feel.  

For practice, students will be given two different scenarios in which they will have to explain what choice they will make.  Hopefully, it's a good hearted one!


Making good choices activities for kids at school

Day three is always game day!  This game gets students up and moving during your lesson.  Divide your carpet or an open area in your room to have two sides.  Hang the THIS or THAT signs up on each side so students can see which side to stand on.  Read one of the questions and have students move to the side that they believe is the right choice.  It can be either side, so they will be moving and making choices!

Making good choices activities for kids at school

Day four is the day in which we meet our new SEL animal friend, this week being Good Choices Cheetah.  Today, you will focus on making good choices at recess during your mini lesson.  Students will get a cheetah face to color and the Good Choices Cheetah poem to trace and attach.

Finally on day five, we read the whole story and then discuss what lesson the author was trying to teach the reader.  I then assign a writing activity (differentiated sheets included) in which they have to apply what they have learned about making good choices.  This is a great way to wrap up the unit and assess their understanding.

Making good choices activities for kids at school

 Let's set our students up for success by giving them the tools they need to thrive in the classroom.  I hope these activities help your students become successful choice makers at school and in the community!  Thank you so much for stopping by this week!  

Be sure to come back next week for our next SEL skill, KINDNESS.  Last week was all about LISTENING AND FOLLOWING DIRECTIONS and the next week will be all about RESILIENCE.

You can grab the Making Good Choices Activities below or by clicking on any of the photos!

Making good choices activities for kids at school
















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