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  • Writer's pictureBehaviour Mentor

Social Emotional Learning

(updated blogpost 27 January 2021- Original photos removed)

In the past few weeks, my students have been engaging and participating in Social Emotional Learning (SEL) experiences through stories and activities written and compiled by Dr Karen Treisman. My students have been introduced to some new friends, Gilly The Giraffe and Binnie The Baboon through stories which follow Gilly and Binnie as they struggle with their personal feelings. Together with Gilly, my students have been flexing their emotional muscles building their confidence and resilience to grow their self-belief and self-esteem. Meanwhile with Binnie students have been developing an understanding of how to overcome their worries and stress.

Our first new friend was Gilly the Giraffe who we discovered was anxious and thought that she was not good enough, she felt that she was different and that she was not cool. Gilly has many colourful pockets on her body and the children wrote and drew some messages to encourage Gilly to see that she was special. While reading the story we could identify the important role of Gilly’s friends and how they could make Gilly change her self-image and grow her self-esteem. We discussed how we as a class are special, how we as partners are special and also how we are special.

We wrote and drew our ideas in puzzle pieces. These were designed to convey the idea that we all have a role to play in our class community and that we all bring value.

Then we drew round our hands and came up with five special things about us. It was so encouraging to see how the children could reflect on their own self-image and recognise the positives in themselves as individuals.

Our second new friend was Binnie the Baboon and we discovered how she was worried, stressed and has butterflies in her tummy. She worried about getting lost. She worried that she might lose the race and the other animals laugh at her. Binnie worried about being worried, Binnie worried about everything!

While reading the story some questions arose,

Why does Binnie have butterflies in her tummy?

Have we ever experienced that feeling?

These questions brought many interesting ideas from the children. “She ate the butterflies”, “She ate an apple and the butterflies flew in to get it” and “She’s keeping them safe” were a few of their predictions. After starting to read the story the children could identify that Binnie was worried so we brainstormed how we might help. The children came up with ideas on how they could help Binnie and they made some drawings.

In a second class, I also introduced the story of Binnie the Baboon. Predicting why Binnie had butterflies in her tummy and identifying the need to help Binnie resulted in the understanding of the need to shift Binnie from feeling worried to feeling happy. We brainstormed how to make bigger worries smaller and how to help Binnie chase her worries away. “Happy Stones” were the result.

I supplied a collection of stones from my garden, each stone was different and the students selected one which they could make into their own personal happy stone. It was impressive the impact of gifting a stone had on my students. They truly were happy to have the stone and they took great pride in decorating it for themselves.

Following on with the story Binnie was encouraged to think of herself as a “Worry Wizard” by the other animals. This resulted in the students deciding to create their own worry wizard and give it a name.

This connecting of Binnie’s feelings to our own feelings promotes student social-emotional learning and builds the foundations for developing understanding about how we can overcome our feelings of anxiety and stress. I can not wait to see where the story of Binnie the Baboon takes us next.

I hope you enjoyed reading about our learning experiences and liked the many examples of how we grew our understanding and developed our SEL skills.


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