middle schoolers SEL activity

5 Social Emotional Learning Activities for Middle School Classrooms

After witnessing many negative side effects from the last few years on children’s mental health and social emotional well-being, we’ve realized how important it is to keep SEL activities at the forefront of the classroom environment.

By incorporating these activities into each class period, students will benefit greatly from getting more than just a “subject” education in school. Instead, they will also be learning about their social-emotional well-being. This will benefit them as they grow into adulthood, but starting early is key.

Through the following SEL activities, your middle school students will learn about self-awareness, self-management, relationship skills, and more.

1. Team Building Games: Social Inclusion

Social inclusion in the classroom means encouraging students to accept all students, including those who are quiet and prefer to sit in the back of the class.

Social inclusion can be used for activities that cultivate stronger relationships among the students.

There are a few social inclusion games that you can incorporate into your classroom to promote social-emotional learning:

  • Two truths and a lie
  • Matched set
  • Take a walk in my shoes
  • Fun fact about you

Some of these are self-explanatory, but here are a few explanations for the lesser-known games.

Matched Set

Students will write five facts about themselves on separate post-it notes. They will also write one post-it note with their name on it.

Before they come into class the next day, post the notes all over the classroom and then ask them to match the correct facts to each student’s name. Every student is included in this game so that they can all learn more about each other.

Take a Walk in My Shoes

For this team-building activity, students will take off their shoes and go to the middle of the classroom. Then, they will each grab two shoes and find the owner of them. This activity encourages students to interact with peers they may not normally speak to.

2. Cultural Awareness Activities

Doing a few cultural awareness activities every once in a while in your middle school classroom can drastically improve your students’ social emotional learning abilities.

These may be more emotionally charged, and some more vulnerable students may not want to share these aspects of their experiences, so be sure to give your students a chance to opt out before beginning.

Cultural Awareness Walk

During this activity, you will read out a few statements. As you do so, students will take a step back or forward depending on the statement. Here are a few examples:

  • Take a step back if you had to move due to a parent/guardian’s inability to pay rent
  • Step forward if one of your parents graduated from college
  • Step forward if you attended a summer camp growing up
  • Take a step back if you had to skip a meal because you didn’t have food in the house

After you do this, students will be able to recognize other people’s disadvantages in the world and better understand those around them.

3. Try Out Mindfulness in the Classroom

Choosing to use mindfulness techniques can promote emotional well-being, focus, and calm in the classroom. One of the best ways to do this is to do a mindfulness exercise during the first five minutes of class.

Try playing a guided meditation for five minutes or longer, depending on what your kids want and how much time you have to spare.

Mindfulness exercises can also be done in the middle of class if you see you are losing your students’ focus.

4. Use the “Tapping” Method

Tapping is considered to be an Emotional Freedom Technique that helps kids overcome stress and self-affirm. Tapping has been shown to help with both physical and psychological issues, though it is not widely used in traditional medicine or psychotherapy. 

Here’s an overview of how it works: When an emotional feeling pops up, you can tap on your meridian lightly to neutralize the emotion. Students can learn this simple technique to help them get out of their heads and focus on the work in front of them. This skill may also benefit them over time as they go on to high school, college, and the workforce. 

5. Goal-Setting Activities

As people go through the phases of their lives, they encounter many situations in which they will need to establish goals. If you teach students how to set goals at a young age, they have a better chance of being successful as they grow up. 

Try incorporating goal-setting activities at the beginning of the year. Have students set goals for themselves to meet by the end of the year to give them a chance to practice. As the end of the year or semester comes around, they can check their progress to see how they are doing.

Throughout the rest of the year, you can help students set smaller goals, such as the grades they want to achieve for a certain quarter. Teach them about SMART goals to make sure they understand how to get there.

Start Using These Social-Emotional Learning Activities For Middle School Students

These five social emotional learning activities for middle schoolers can benefit your students and reinforce their SEL skills over time.

You might even notice a huge difference in their behavior and an improvement in their ability to focus on tasks.
If you need help with behavior management in the classroom, explore our website to learn more or book a 30-minute demo to discover the benefits of using K-12 behavior management software.


Modernize your District's Behavior Management with research-based best-practices.

Easily create comprehensive Individual Behavior Intervention Plans for K-12 students in one hour or less with Insights to Behavior.

Related Posts