SEL Distance Learning Update: Family Edition May 26, 2020

As we continue to be impacted by social distancing and challenges that arise from COVID-19, it’s hard not to start spiraling and worrying about the future. Incorporating a daily mindfulness practice can help calm our minds and teach our children healthy coping skills. This doesn't have to be complicated; it can be as simple as taking a minute to be present and breathe before starting the day.

Additionally, in times of crisis it is especially important to act with empathy--for our family, friends, and even ourselves. There are many benefits to practicing empathy. Empathizing with others can help us feel more connected, make us more likely to help others, and improve our ability regulate emotions. Having self-compassion or empathy for ourselves during stressful times can also help us put things in perspective and has been shown to decrease anxiety and boost our immune system.

Please enjoy the read-alouds from District staff, ideas to integrate these concepts throughout the day, resources, and Meet-Up/dinner table conversation ideas focused on these themes.

Practicing Mindfulness and Belly Breathing

Miss Chelsea and Baylee read Bee Still- An Invitation to Meditation by Frank Sileo

Mindfulness explained

One Minute Mindfulness Activity

Meet Up/Dinner Table Conversation Ideas

Younger Children:

  • Being mindful makes me feel __________.
  • What parts of your life are most distracting?
  • Practicing the 5,4,3,2,1 Game: Doing this activity will allow you to notice the details of your surroundings using the 5 senses. 1) What are five things you can see 2) What are four things you can feel 3) What are three things you can hear 2) What are two things you can smell 1) What is one thing you can taste.

Older Children:

  • What does it mean to you to “be present”? What does it mean to you to do something “mindfully”? Does it sound good? Or like a chore?
  • What parts of your life are most distracting?
  • Hugs and 3 breaths: Hug each family member tight and take a 3 deep breaths together. This will help each of you stay grounded and be able to be present during dinner, allowing all the stress and worry to escape the mind and to feel more connected.

Videos to help children use proper belly breathing

Ideas for Integration Throughout the Day

Take a mindfulness walk. Walk together in silence. Practice being present in the moment by noticing your surroundings. Look around. What do you see? Take a deep breath and slowly inhale. What do you smell? Listen to your surroundings. What do you hear? Take turns sharing one observation or thing you enjoyed the most about the walk and discuss how it made you feel to focus on your surroundings.

Color mandalas. Take time out of your day to be present in the moment by focusing entirely on the act of coloring. For free printable mandalas check out the following website: https://mondaymandala.com/

Practice deep breathing using the five-finger breathing technique. Sit or stand comfortably with your back straight. Open your hand. Now with the pointer finger of your opposite hand slowly trace your fingers one at a time while breathing deeply. Inhale while moving up your fingers and exhale while moving down. Review the following video for a visual guide:


Stand in My Shoes: Kids Learning About Empathy by Bob Sornson, read by Elizabeth Gianulis

Meet Up/Dinner Table Conversation Ideas

  • What is empathy? What does it mean to stand in someone else's shoes? Have a discussion about empathy allowing each person to explain what it means to him/her.
  • Come up with different scenarios (i.e. swimming in the ocean, finishing a hard puzzle, getting licked by a dog) and allow each person to say how it would make him/her feel.

Ideas for Integration Throughout the Day

Play Feeling Charades with your child, taking turns guessing the emotion the other person is demonstrating or describing. Use your entire body and/or tone of voice to demonstrate the emotion or describe the physical changes you experience.

While reading books together, pause throughout the story and invite your child to think ahead and predict what the character will feel next.

Make a Feelings Collage. For this activity you will need magazines, glue, a marker or pen, scissors, and construction paper. Look through the magazines for pictures of people expressing emotions. Cut out the images that you like and paste them on the construction paper to make a collage. Use the marker to label each picture with a feeling word (e.g. happy, bored, sad, stressed, angry, tired, etc.). When you are finished making your collage and labeling your images, take turns sharing, explaining why you’ve labeled each picture as you did (e.g. facial expression, body language, etc.), and why you chose that particular picture. You can also use this activity to share how you’ve expressed these emotions in the past, and what comforted you.

Created By
Elizabeth Gianulis