Social emotional learning (SEL) is a set of frameworks that guides practices on how children and adults learn about their emotions and how to effectively manage them for their social, emotional, and academic well-being. This includes being able to show empathy to others, maintaining positive relationships, and being able to talk about one’s own emotions and use them in an uplifting way.
The students and educators at East Boston Early Education Center have been talking a lot about emotions lately. This is because the EEC wants to build a community where emotions are discussed, but also represented. Our school has recently adopted a new t-shirt design with the slogan of “We are safe. We are responsible. We are respectful,” on the back of the shirt, and a grouping of penguins on the front. The penguin was selected by our students as a mascot for the EEC. Now, you might ask, “Why a penguin?” Penguins are very protective of the group and cooperative during the harsh winter months and in the summer. They are loyal to each other, especially to their families, and are respectful. Penguins are also able to adapt to different environments; while they aren’t amphibious, they spend time on land and in the water. These general qualities are what students value in their EEC community. The shirts are also a fundraiser for our school, so if you can, please show your support for the penguins by purchasing one!
SEL Meets STEAM and Making
In the makerspace, I have been exploring social emotional learning with my students through the LEGO Build Me “Emotions” blocks (this is not an affiliate link and I do not get paid for the promotion). Each pack of blocks contains block faces with different emotions – think of them as your phone emojis in LEGO block form – and instructional mats for creating LEGO people with different configurations. LEGO Education also provides with the kits a free curriculum guide with many engaging activities for educators and parents to do with their students, and they also provide training to educators.
We have been using the kits to assist the students with learning about the different emotions and what they look like. Not only can someone be “happy” and “sad,” but they can also be “nervous” and “embarrassed” and “lonely”. A person can also feel multiple emotions at once, as some of the students discovered when building and explaining their emotions. Be sure to check out the slideshow below for photos and captions detailing the emotions that the students were able to “build” in the makerspace.