SEL Activities for Middle School Students: Social Emotional Learning for Teens
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9 Important SEL Activities for Middle School Students: Social Emotional Learning for Teens

Today’s article is all about SEL activities for middle school!

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is super important in middle school to help students build life skills crucial for their well-being and academic success.

As many of you reading this may unfortunately remember (like me), middle school can be a challenging time for students.

They’re dealing with personal challenges, changing expectations, crushes or relationships, growth spurts, academic requirements, and more.

In this blog post, we’ll explore various free SEL activities for middle school students, their learning objectives, and the real-world impact these activities can have.

Why Take Time to Do SEL Activities for Middle School Students?

Incorporating SEL activities into your classroom or homeschool schedule is well worth it!

I’ve even found a few activities that can double dip to teach skills such as reading comprehension and SEL.

  • SEL activities can foster an environment where students feel safe, respected, and engaged.
  • Engaging in SEL activities can help them develop essential life skills.
  • It also helps teachers/parents build relationships with their students, allowing them to better understand and support their individual needs.

Let’s jump in to some of my favorite SEL activities for middle school!

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SEL Activities for Middle School Students: Social Emotional Learning for Teens

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    SEL Activities for Middle School 1: Daily Check-Ins

    SEL Activities for Middle School: Daily Check-Ins Bundle

    Image credit: Rainbow Heart Education

    Activity: Start each day or class by giving students a moment to share their feelings privately.

    Example: Give the students space to complete the sentence stem, “Today I feel…”. The response could be with emojis, drawings, or sentences.

    They could even share what music they are listening to, and complete the sentence stem, “Today I feel…” and to finish a story like, “Across the bridge, I saw…”.

    Then, include a daily affirmation and space to doodle.

    Learning Objective: To improve emotional awareness and self-regulation.

    Real-World Impact: A study from the University of British Columbia found daily check-ins enhance students’ connection with their peers and educators, fostering a supportive classroom climate.

    SEL Activities for Middle School 2: Gratitude Journals

    SEL Activities for Middle School: Gratitude Journals FREEBIE

    Image credit: Read Write Transform

    Activity: Students keep a journal to note daily gratitudes.

    Example: Use this gratitude journal to help your students (and yourself) think about the many things you are grateful for!

    The FREE journal is set up in an attractive way so that even your reluctant writer is engaged and excited to write while he/she thinks about his/her life and the many things they are thankful for.

    On each page students are prompted to think about something specific. Some pages have quotes to inspire your students. ♥

    Learning Objective: To foster optimism and reduce negative emotions.

    Real-World Impact: Research in the Journal of School Psychology indicates gratitude journaling boosts life satisfaction and reduces envy and depression levels in students.

    SEL Activities for Middle School 3: Mindfulness Exercises

    SEL Activities for Middle School: Mindfulness Exercises Posters, Activities, and Cards Bundle

    Image credit: Pathway 2 Success

    Activity: Teach students mindfulness techniques such as deep breathing or body scans.

    Example: This bundle includes posters and activity cards to promote mindfulness.

    You could hang the posters in a “calm down corner” of your room, or keep the cards on a ring so they’re handy to do with the whole class or for an individual student.

    Learning Objective: To improve focus and reduce stress.

    Real-World Impact: UCLA research reveals mindfulness exercises enhance student attention and lower stress, which correlates with improved academic performance.

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    SEL Activities for Middle School 4: Empathy Building

    SEL Activities for Middle School:  Empathy Building Social Skills Tasks Cards to Develop Empathy for Grades 6-12

    Image credit: Misty’s Speech World

    Activity: Make a little time for activities that promote understanding and empathy for others’ feelings.

    Example: Use these task cards to help middle school and high school kids understand empathy on a deeper level.

    Each card in this pack asks your students to identify feelings, put themselves in that person’s shoes, choose how to best support the person, and reflect on past experiences.

    Learning Objective: To encourage a compassionate and respectful approach towards others by empathizing with how they feel, even if that’s not how the student feels.

    Real-World Impact: The Roots of Empathy program showcases significant drops in aggression and increases in empathic behavior among participating students.

    SEL Activities for Middle School 5: Conflict Resolution

    SEL Activities for Middle School: Conflict Resolution Activities and Presentations for Grades 5-8

    Image credit: etiQit

    Activity: Teach peaceful and respectful conflict resolution strategies.

    Example: This conflict resolution bundle is SO good. It’s got presentations and activities ready for you, so you can just download and go!

    Learning Objective: To practice resolving conflicts in safe and respectful settings.

    Real-World Impact: Reduction in aggressive behavior and increase in positive interactions, as per the Journal of School Psychology.

    SEL Activities for Middle School 6: Goal Setting

    SEL Activities for Middle School: Goal Setting FREEBIE 8 Pages of Meaningful Goal Setting and Extension Activities for All Ages

    Activity: Guide students to set realistic goals and design action plans.

    Example: Use this freebie to help student create goals in a meaningful way.

    Included are 8 pages and multiple versions for all ages! Plus, the extension activities are a great way to get conversations going with your middle schoolers.

    Learning Objective: To improve motivation and self-confidence in teenagers.

    Real-World Impact: The University of Rochester’s research found that specific, challenging goal setting aligns with academic enhancements.

    SEL Activities for Middle School 7: Team Building Activities

    SEL Activities for Middle School: Team Building Activities for Middle School or High School

    Activity: Foster teamwork through collaborative projects or games.

    Example: Use these ice breakers to shake things up and strengthen your classroom family’s bond at the beginning of the year or after a holiday break.

    These 8 activities encourage students to work together, ask questions, get to know each other, and solve problems.

    Learning Objective: To develop collaborative and communication skills in a fun way.

    Real-World Impact: Activities that improve team cohesion lead to greater workplace productivity and satisfaction, noted in the Small Group Research Journal.

    SEL Activities for Middle School 8: Self-Reflection

    SEL Activities for Middle School: Self-Reflection Activity Built In to a Comprehension Passage

    Image credit: the small but mighty teacher

    Activity: Use this educational activity to teach both close reading, annotation, or comprehension skills while kids learn about the importance of self-reflection.

    Example: SEL activities don’t have to be separate from your teaching time!

    Use these comprehension passages to help kids learn about and discuss self-reflection (while maybe also grabbing a grade or two that you need to fill that gradebook).

    Learning Objective: To boost self-awareness and identify personal growth opportunities.

    Real-World Impact: CASEL emphasizes self-reflection in SEL for nurturing self-awareness and growth potential.

    SEL Activities for Middle School 9: Art and Music Therapy

    SEL Activities for Middle School: Art and Music Therapy Mandala Coloring Book Listening Therapy

    Image credit: Little House Lessons LLC

    Activity: Use art and music for emotional regulation and stress relief.

    Example: Play calm, instrumental music. Give students time to color in the Mandalas while they listen.

    Learning Objective: To offer creative relief for stress and develop emotional expression.

    Real-World Impact: Studies highlight the benefits, such as decreased anxiety and enhanced self-esteem, through artistic and musical engagement.

    That’s All of the Greatest SEL Activities for Middle School!

    As you can see, incorporating SEL activities into the middle school curriculum offers many benefits, helping with both academic and personal development.

    The evidence suggests that these interventions really make a difference.

    They give students the tools they need to handle real-world challenges with resilience, empathy, and a team-player attitude.

    By nurturing these skills early on, teenagers have a better chance of becoming well-rounded individuals capable of contributing positively to society. 💞

    Don’t forget to grab your SEL Activities for Middle School instant download freebie here!!


    Enter your email to get instant access to your printable list of free social emotional learning activities, perfect for middle schoolers!

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      Comment below: Have you given SEL activities a try before?

      If not, which activities are you looking forward to trying first?

      Drop your stories, thoughts, and ideas in the comments below!

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