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25 Social Emotional Learning Activities for Preschoolers

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Social and Emotional Learning Activities for Preschoolers

As a parent, you want your child to be successful in school and life. One way to help them achieve this is through social-emotional learning activities (SEL).

SEL helps children develop the skills to understand and manage their emotions, set goals, build relationships, and make responsible decisions.

Table of contents show

What is Social and Emotional Learning for Preschoolers?

Social and emotional learning describes the process of teaching kids how to recognize and manage their emotions, develop social skills, and understand other people’s perspectives.

Some people also refer to it as character education. Interestingly, there isn’t one specific model or approach to social and emotional learning – instead, it can be tailored to meet the needs of each child.

Standard methods used in SEL programs include:

  1. Group discussions
  2. Storytelling
  3. Creative arts projects
  4. Cooperative games
  5. Role-playing activities

These preschool activities help kids learn how to engage positively with others, express themselves effectively, and handle difficult emotions head-on, which will set them up for success in all areas of life.

Educational App for Preschool

Why is Social and Emotional Learning Important?

There are many benefits of social and emotional learning for preschoolers. For one, it can help them develop a positive sense of self-awareness and self-esteem.

SEL activities can also teach kids healthy ways to cope with difficult emotions like anger, anxiety, and frustration.

Additionally, social and emotional learning can help kids build strong relationships with others and learn how to resolve conflicts peacefully.

SEL skills have been linked to better academic performance, improved behavior in school, and a reduced risk of developing mental health problems later in life.

What are some social emotional activities for preschoolers?

You can help your child learn these essential skills in many different ways. Here are some preschooler social-emotional learning activities that you can try at home.

1. Reading books together

Reading books together is a great way to promote social-emotional learning in preschoolers. Kids can learn about various emotions like happiness, sadness, anger, and fear through books.

This can help them understand their emotions better and learn how to respond to the feelings of others. Reading books also provide an opportunity for discussion and helps build vocabulary. When choosing books to read with preschoolers, look for ones with simple storylines and clear pictures.

It is also important to select books appropriate for the child’s age and stage of development. By reading together, you can help your child develop the social-emotional skills they need to succeed in school and life.

2. Playing games together

Games are a great way to promote social-emotional learning in preschoolers. They can teach kids about turn-taking, following rules, and how to cope with losing.

Games can also provide an opportunity for parents and children to bond with one another. Playing educational games together is a great way to promote social-emotional learning in preschoolers.

Games can teach kids about turn-taking, following rules, and how to cope with losing. They can also provide an opportunity for parents and children to bond with one another.

3. Doing crafts together

Parents looking to promote social-emotional learning in their preschoolers may want to try doing crafts together. Crafts can teach kids patience, concentration, and how to finish a task.

They can also provide an opportunity for parents and children to bond with one another. For example, working on a craft project can help kids learn how to take turns, share materials, and cooperate with others.

In addition, crafts can be used to help kids positively express their emotions. For instance, if a child is feeling angry or frustrated, they can channel their energy into painting or sculpting. Doing crafts together is a great way for parents and children to connect while promoting social-emotional learning.

4. Going for walks together

Going for walks together is a great way to promote social-emotional learning in preschoolers. Walks allow kids to explore their surroundings and learn about the world around them.

For example, they can learn about different types of plants and animals or the different sounds that cars make. Walking also allows kids to practice skills like following directions and sharing. In addition, walks can help to foster a bond between parent and child.

They provide a time to talk and connect without distractions like screens or other people. As a result, going for walks together is a great way to promote social-emotional learning in preschoolers.

5. Talking about feelings

Talking about feelings is a great way to promote social-emotional learning in preschoolers. It can help kids to understand their emotions and how to deal with them healthily. Additionally, talking about feelings can help to foster a bond between parent and child.

It provides a time to talk and connect without distractions like screens or other people. As a result, talking about feelings is a great way to promote social-emotional learning in preschoolers.

When parents take the time to talk about feelings with their children, it sends the message that emotions are important and worthy of attention. This can help kids feel more comfortable talking about their feelings, an essential step in social-emotional learning.

Additionally, talking about emotions can help kids understand and regulate their feelings. They can learn to identify their emotions and deal with them healthily with practice.

Talking about feelings is also a great way to create a bond between parent and child. It provides a time for connection and conversation without distractions. This can help kids feel valued and understood, fostering a solid parent-child relationship.

Talking about feelings is a great way to promote social-emotional learning in preschoolers. It helps kids understand their emotions, develop emotional regulation skills, and fosters positive parent-child relationships.

6. Drawing or painting

When children feel frustrated, angry, or even sad, it can be challenging to express themselves in words. However, art provides an excellent outlet for emotions and can be a perfect way for kids to process their feelings.

Drawing and painting can be constructive, as children can use different colors to represent emotions. For example, they might use red to express anger, blue to express sadness, and yellow to express happiness.

Encouraging your child to draw pictures of happy or sad moments from their day can also be a helpful way to start a conversation about their emotions. As a result, art can be a valuable tool for helping children to understand and cope with their feelings.

6. Doing yoga or mindfulness exercises together

Yoga and mindfulness are great tools for teaching preschoolers how to regulate emotions. These practices can help children to develop a greater awareness of their bodies and feelings and to learn how to control and express their emotions in healthy ways.

Several yoga and mindfulness apps and websites offer activities specifically designed for children. Or, you can do some simple yoga poses or breathing exercises together at home.

These practices can provide a valuable opportunity for preschoolers to learn how to manage their emotions and stay calm in challenging situations.

8. Listening to music

Listening to calming music can help preschoolers feel more relaxed and less stressed. Several great kids’ relaxation CDs are available, or you can create a playlist of calm, soothing songs.

Music can help kids to feel more relaxed by reducing anxiety and improving their mood. Listening to calm music can also help to lower blood pressure and heart rate, and it can promote better sleep.

If your child is feeling stressed, try playing some calming music for them. You may be surprised at how much of a difference it can make.

9. Playing Emotion Charades

Preschoolers are just beginning to understand and express emotions, so games like emotion charades can be beneficial in teaching them about feelings. In this game, players act out different emotions without using words.

This allows kids to practice using nonverbal cues to communicate their feelings. It also helps them to learn to identify emotions in other people.

To make the game more challenging, you can give players a time limit or only allow them to use certain body parts. Emotion charades are a fun and easy way to help your child develop emotional intelligence.

10. Drawing Pictures of Feelings

Art can be a powerful tool for helping children express their emotions. When upset, children may not always be able to put their feelings into words.

However, by giving them some paper and crayons, you can encourage them to express themselves through art. Ask them to draw a picture of how they are feeling, and you may be surprised at how much insight you gain into their emotional state.

You can also ask them to draw pictures of how they think other people might be feeling in different situations. This can help your child to develop empathy and understanding for others.

Ultimately, art can be a valuable way to help your child cope with their emotions and develop more profound insight into their feelings and the feelings of others.

11. Role-Playing Social Situations

Role-playing social situations with your child can help them to learn how to handle different types of interactions. You can choose a few scenarios, such as starting a new school or being left out by friends and acting them out with your child.

After each scenario, you can discuss how your child felt and brainstorm ways they could have handled the situation differently. This activity can allow your child to practice new social skills and think about how they would like to respond in different situations.

It can also help you to understand your child’s perspective and to provide guidance on how they can cope with challenging social situations.

12. Playing Pretend Games

Playing pretend is a valuable way for children to explore different emotions and social situations. Through pretend play, children can experiment with different roles and scenarios, trying out other behaviors and solutions to problems.

This type of play helps children to develop empathy and understand the perspectives of others. It also allows them to work through challenging emotions in a safe and fun environment.

Pretend play can be as straightforward or as elaborate as your child desires. You can encourage your child to come up with their ideas for pretend games or try playing some classic favorites like “restaurant,” “school,” or “doctor’s office.”

Whatever games you choose to play, pretending is a great way to promote your child’s healthy development.

13. Making a Feelings Book

Making a feelings book is an excellent way for kids to express themselves. It helps them to identify and understand their emotions, and it gives them a chance to practice their reading and writing skills.

To make a feelings book, start by folding four pieces of paper in half. Then, label each page with an emotion, such as “happy,” “sad,” “angry,” or “afraid.”

Next, please help your child to draw a picture and write a sentence or two about how they feel when they experience that emotion.

Finally, staple the pages together to create a booklet. This activity can be done repeatedly, adding new emotions and experiences to the book.

14. Giving Hugs

Hugs are a great way to show your emotions. They can be used to show love and support and help kids feel calmer and more secure.

When children feel happy, sad, or scared, it is helpful to encourage them to give hugs to people they care about. This activity teaches children social and emotional skills and helps them understand and cope with their emotions.

In addition, it helps children develop a sense of empathy for others. They hugged loved ones and taught children how to comfort and support those going through tough times.

As a result, hugs can play an essential role in developing strong social and emotional skills.

15. Saying “I Love You.”

Saying “I love you” is a great way to show your child that you care about them. It’s also a good reminder that they are loved, no matter how they feel.

Try to say “I love you” every day, even if it’s just in passing.

Also, encourage other family members and caregivers to say it too. This is a great activity to teach your child social and emotional skills. Expressing emotions is an integral part of life, and saying “I love you” is a great way to start.

It can help your child feel loved and valued, and it can also help them to understand the importance of expressing emotions.

So make sure to say “I love you” often, and encourage others to do the same!

16. Staying Connected with Family and Friends

Staying connected with family and friends is essential for kids for many reasons. It helps them feel supported and loved, no matter what happens in their life.

Additionally, it allows them to stay up-to-date on family news and events and share their information and experiences.

Furthermore, regular check-ins can allow kids to ask for advice or help with problems they may be facing.

Finally, staying connected with loved ones can help reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness. Today’s world has many ways to stay connected with family and friends, even if they live far away.

Whether it’s a quick phone call, video chat, or text message, staying in touch will help your child feel loved and supported.

17. Asking for Help

One of the most important things you can teach your child is that asking for help is okay. Tell them they can always come to you (or another trusted adult) when they’re upset or need someone to talk to.

This will help them feel more comfortable seeking support when needed. It’s also important to let your child know that everyone needs help sometimes and that asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Explain that all kinds of problems can be too big for one person to handle on their own and that seeking out support is a smart way to deal with difficult situations.

By teaching your child the importance of asking for help, you’ll be helping them set themselves up for a lifetime of success.

18. Taking Breaks

Kids must take daily breaks to stay focused and avoid getting overwhelmed. When kids are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, it’s a good idea to encourage them to take a few minutes to themselves to do something they enjoy.

This can help them to relax and reset so that they’re able to come back to their tasks with fresh energy. Some ideas for things kids can do during breaks include reading, playing with a favorite toy, or spending time outdoors.

It’s also a good idea to have healthy snacks on hand so kids can refuel their bodies and minds.

By taking regular breaks, kids will be better able to stay focused and calm throughout the day.

19. Practicing Deep Breathing

Deep breathing is a great way to relax and calm down. It can also help improve focus and concentration, a great way to teach preschoolers social and emotional skills.

Help please help your child practice deep breathing by lying down on their back and placing one hand on their stomach.

Then, have them breathe in through their nose for a count of four, hold their breath for a count of four, and exhale through their mouth for a count of four.

Repeat this process several times.

You may also want to try deep breathing exercises with your children, such as progressive muscle relaxation or guided imagery.

Remember to be patient and keep the exercises fun, as deep breathing should be a relaxing experience for both of you.

20. Meditating

There are many benefits to meditation, especially for kids. Meditation can help to improve focus and concentration, calm the mind, and promote relaxation.

There are many different ways to meditate, so it’s essential to find a method that works best for your child. You can try having them sit quietly and focus on their breathing, listening to relaxation music, or repeating a mantra or positive affirmation.

Meditation can be beneficial if your child is struggling with anxiety or stress. It’s essential to encourage them to be patient and keep practicing, as it can take some time to see results.

With regular practice, meditation can profoundly impact your child’s health and well-being.

21. Visualizing a Relaxing Place

Visualizing a relaxing place can help kids to feel calmer and more relaxed. Please encourage them to close their eyes and picture a peaceful place, such as the beach, a meadow, or the woods.

As they visualize this place in their mind, please encourage them to notice the details, such as the sounds, smells, and textures.

After a few minutes, have them open their eyes and discuss what they visualized. This activity can help kids to feel more relaxed and reduce stress.

It can also be fun to use their imagination and explore different places.

22. Journaling

For many kids, journaling is a great way to express their thoughts and feelings. It can be a helpful outlet for children dealing with difficult emotions or situations.

Please encourage your child to write about anything on their mind, whether it’s something that’s bothering them or something they’re happy about.

You can also have them include drawings or sketches in their journal. If your child is too young to write, you can register with them. Ask them how they are feeling today and write it down with them.

Later in life, you can show them the journal, and they will love it. Please encourage your child to be as creative as possible with their journal.

They can write poems or stories or list things that are important to them. The sky is the limit!

Helping your child to express themselves through writing will encourage them to develop their unique voice. In addition, journaling can help children to build confidence and self-esteem.

As they reflect on their entries, they will see their progress and how far they’ve come.

Journaling is a valuable tool that can benefit children in many different ways. So why not encourage your child to start writing today?

23. Expressing Gratitude

Research has shown that gratitude has many benefits for both mental and physical health. People who express gratitude regularly tend to have higher self-esteem, feel more optimistic, and report feeling more satisfied with their lives.

Gratitude also helps to reduce stress and anxiety and can even improve sleep quality. There are many ways to encourage thankfulness in children.

One is to have them think of daily things they’re thankful for, such as their family, friends, pets, or favorite toys.

Another is to have them write these things down in a gratitude journal. Focusing on what we’re grateful for can help boost our mood and make us feel more positive about our lives.

24. Spending Time Outdoors

Most adults can attest to the fact that spending time outdoors can help to improve mood and relieve stress.

Being in nature has been shown to increase levels of serotonin, the happy hormone, and boost feelings of calm and well-being. Many people don’t realize that children can also enjoy these same benefits.

In today’s world of screen time and constant stimulation, it’s more important than ever to ensure that kids have opportunities to unplug and connect with the natural world.

Studies show that outdoor spending can help kids feel more peaceful and relaxed.

It can also improve focus and concentration, reduce symptoms of ADHD, and promote creativity and imagination.

So make sure to schedule some time each day for your child to play outside, even if it’s just for a few minutes.

If possible, include some activities involving movement, such as walking, running, or biking.

By creating a daily habit of spending time outdoors, you’ll give your child a gift that will last a lifetime.

25. Practicing Mindfulness

Preschoolers are naturally curious and love to explore the world around them. As parents, we can help them to slow down and appreciate the moment by teaching them mindfulness.

Mindfulness is all about being present in the moment and paying attention to our thoughts and feelings.

There are many different ways to practice mindfulness, such as focusing on breathing, listening to the sounds around us, or eating mindfully.

Choose an activity you think your child will enjoy and spend a few minutes doing it daily.

Not only will this help your child relax and destress, but it will also give you time to connect with them and bond over a shared experience.

How do you teach preschoolers social and emotional skills?

Are you looking for ways to help your preschooler learn social and emotional skills? You can do many different things to help them develop these essential abilities. Here are a few tips to get you started.

1. Explain emotions to your child.

One of the best ways to teach preschoolers social and emotional skills is to explain emotions. Children can better understand and cope with their feelings when they label them.

Use simple words and phrases your child will understand, such as “I’m feeling happy” or “I’m feeling sad.”

2. Model appropriate behavior.

It is also important to model appropriate behavior for your child. Children learn best by observing and imitating the behavior of others. If you want your child to learn how to handle emotions healthily, you must do so yourself.

Modeling calm and constructive problem-solving skills will help your child to learn how to do the same.

3. Encourage communication.

Communication is another important way to help preschoolers develop social and emotional skills. It is vital to provide opportunities for your child to practice expressing themselves verbally.

This can be done through conversation, role-playing, or art activities. It is also essential to listen carefully to what your child has to say and to respond in a supportive way.

4. Teach conflict resolution skills.

Conflict is a natural part of life, but children must learn how to resolve conflicts constructively. Teaching conflict resolution skills will help preschoolers to develop the ability to communicate effectively, compromise, and negotiate with others.

There are many books and games available that can help teach these skills in a fun and engaging way.

5. Promote positive self-esteem.

Finally, it is essential to promote positive self-esteem in preschoolers. Children who feel good about themselves are more likely to be successful in social situations.

There are many ways to promote positive self-esteem, such as providing compliments, encouraging effort, and helping children set realistic goals

6. Encourage your child to express their emotions.

It is also essential to encourage your child to express their emotions. This means that you should create an environment in which they feel safe and comfortable saying how they think.

This can be done by listening to them talk about their day and acknowledging their feelings. It is also important to avoid shaming or belittling their emotions, as this can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms later in life.

7. Help them to label their emotions.

Another helpful tip is to help your child label their emotions. This means teaching them the words that describe different feelings, such as happy, sad, angry, scared, etc.

Once they know the words for different emotions, they will better identify how they are feeling and communicate this to others.

8. Teach them how to cope with strong emotions.

It is also essential to teach your child how to cope with strong emotions. This includes teaching them deep breathing exercises or other relaxation techniques that can help calm them down when they feel overwhelmed.

It is also essential to provide them with a safe outlet for their emotions, such as a journal or stuffed animal, so they can healthily express themselves.

Social Emotional Learning Activities for Kids

Social emotional learning (SEL) focuses on nurturing children’s emotional intelligence, helping them understand and manage their feelings. For kids, engaging in SEL activities can greatly enhance their interpersonal skills and self-awareness.


  • Role-playing various emotional scenarios.
  • Creating emotion flashcards and discussing them.
  • Daily mood check-ins with a feelings chart.
  • Collaborative art projects.
  • Journaling about feelings and experiences.

SEL Activities for Preschoolers

Preschool is a crucial stage for developing emotional intelligence. These SEL activities are designed to help preschoolers understand their feelings and relate better with their peers.


  • Sharing circles where each child talks about their day.
  • Songs about feelings.
  • Storytime focusing on characters’ emotions.
  • Puppet shows about emotions.
  • Feelings sorting game with pictures.

Social Emotional Learning Activities for Preschoolers

Preschoolers are at an age where they start to develop empathy and recognize emotions in others. These activities will cultivate these emerging abilities.


  • Emotion-themed memory card games.
  • “How would you feel if?” scenarios.
  • Creating an “emotions wheel” craft.
  • Reading picture books about different feelings.
  • Emotion-themed coloring pages.

Social Emotional Learning Activities Toddlers

Toddlers, with their boundless energy and curiosity, are starting to navigate their emotions. These SEL activities help toddlers name and understand their feelings.


  • Playing with emotion face masks.
  • Simple feelings dance to different kinds of music.
  • Emotion recognition using mirrors.
  • Sorting toys based on happy/sad themes.
  • Feelings-themed storybooks reading.

Social Emotional Games for Preschoolers

Games can be a fun and effective way to teach preschoolers about their emotions. These social-emotional games cater to their playful nature while educating them.


  • Emotion Simon says” game.
  • Feelings musical chairs.
  • Emotion charades.
  • “Pass the emotion” game using a ball.
  • Feelings scavenger hunt.

Social Emotional Activities for Preschoolers at Home

Creating a nurturing environment at home is essential for preschoolers’ emotional growth. Here are SEL activities that parents can easily incorporate into their daily routines.


  • Bedtime stories focusing on feelings.
  • Creating a home “feelings corner” for calming down.
  • Daily chats about high and low moments of the day.
  • Emotion-themed baking or cooking activities.
  • Feelings-themed arts and crafts.

Social Emotional Learning Activities for Toddlers

For toddlers, understanding the world of emotions can be a big task. These SEL activities make it easier and fun for them to explore their feelings.


  • Singing songs with hand movements about feelings.
  • Emotion-themed puzzles.
  • Drawing or coloring their emotions.
  • Playing with dolls or toys to enact different feelings.
  • Creating simple emotion flashcards for daily review.

The Best Social Emotional Activities for Preschoolers

These are just a few of the many social-emotional learning activities you can do with your preschooler. By teaching your child these skills, you’ll be helping them to build a foundation for success in school and life.

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