One of the most effective ways to support youth social emotional growth is with regular check-ins. Use ice breakers to give youth a chance to listen, talk, reflect, build empathy, and discuss critical thinking and issues. The following conversation prompts are organized by the SEL categories and the type of engagement they bring out.
This activity prompts young people to think and speak critically with their peers about a real-world topic. They consider how the topic applies to them and how it might impact others. During this activity, youth share their opinions, debate their positions, and sometimes even change sides as their opinions shift to accommodate new information or other viewpoints. This activity introduces young people to the concepts of bias and stereotypes by discussing how the judgments we make can be very damaging.
Young people create a Public Service Announcement in order to inform people about an issue and challenge them to take action in order to make a difference. This activity guides them to select an issue, research ways to address the issue, and make a call to action.
This project is a simulation meant to guide participants through the process of organizing a protest/demonstration. Participants are asked to identify a problem they want to solve and then plan a nonviolent protest/demonstration while being conscious of safety, resources, community norms, and ethical behavior. The hope is that this activity might inspire the next Greta Thunberg or Malala Yousafzai to take action and create change!
The "Current Event Check-In" is an Everyday SEL practice. It is a culturally responsive version of the daily emotion check-in; it offers youth the opportunity to check-in regarding the current events in their communities. In order to have a social awareness of one’s community, youth must be able to inquire, discuss, and share their thoughts and opinions about the events in their community on a regular basis.
Many American citizens with a "hyphenated ethnicity, race, or identity" experience a double consciousness. In this activity, youth look at the hyphen from the perspective of another person, reflecting upon their own opinions about how the hyphen is used. Hyphen-Stories is inspired by an article by Dena Simmons called, "Why We Can't Afford Whitewashed Social-Emotional Learning."
In this activity young people are asked to consider how their race, ethnicity, gender, or sexuality impact how they control their emotions. This Self-Management tool asks young people to reflect upon how they regulate their behaviors and emotions. They will then be asked to discuss how race, gender, and other identity markers impact the expectations of behavior and emotion regulation from different groups. Different Strokes for Different Folks is inspired by the article, "Why We Can't Afford Whitewashed Social-Emotional Learning" by Dena Simmons.
"The Shout" is an Everyday SEL practice for encouraging young people to express their authentic emotions and use their emotions to create change. Cierra Kaler-Jones argues that “Righteous anger has long been used as a tool to fuel movements that have and continue to propel our nation forward towards justice. To tell students to not harness their anger is to tell them their rage isn’t warranted.”
Language holds the power to unite or divide us, and we may unknowingly use language that excludes or offends our listeners. The language used at home, on TV, in Music, and in the Media often contains insensitive or divisive language with the potential to offend. Youth can identify and make an effort to use more inclusive language instead. By managing their own language, youth can serve as models for their peers and others in their community.
Ignite meaningful action that lights up the world through "Service Sparks" youth projects! Spark a conversation about giving and generosity. Follow this simple guide to talk about generous action for the good of all. One conversation may spark another and spread generosity like ripples in the larger community. A great lead-up to the holidays and #GivingTuesday.