I’m really excited to announce the arrival of my new Fall Social-Emotional Activity Pack! I already have Holiday and Spring Social-Emotional Packs in my store, so I knew I wanted to add a Fall pack too. This one was specifically designed with kindergarten through second grade students in mind, but may be appropriate for older students too who are working at a lower level.
It contains several social skills, anger management, and social emotional activities that are sure to get your students excited about the cooler weather! It contains the following:
– 24 Fall-Themed Conversation Cards* – 24 Friendship Scenario Cards*
– Angry Monster Coping Skills Activity
– “Banish the Boos” Positive Thinking Activity (and answer key)
– “Debug” Problem-Solving Activity
– Halloween Behavior Punch Cards (2, 4, 6, 9, or 16 per page)
– Listening Poster (4 different genders/races used)
– Pumpkin Emotion Cards for matching, role-playing, or other games
– Pumpkin Friendship Glyph*
– Thankfulness Turkey Activity
– Thanksgiving Behavior Punch Cards (2, 4, 6, 9, or 16 per page)
– Trick or Treat Behavior Sort Activity
This summer, I’ve been writing a blog series focusing on several different disorders that affect children at school: ADHD, Autism, Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Anxiety Disorder, and ODD. Each entry describes the disorder, gives practical strategies for improving success at school, and also provides a few social-emotional goals and accommodations that might be appropriate for students with special education services!
Next up is Anxiety. Most often in an elementary school setting, I’ve seen anxiety manifest itself in school avoidance or test anxiety. However, students with anxiety many have many other emotions or behaviors! These are just two of the most common examples.
Everybody worries, whether it’s about that spider crawling down the wall toward them, or an important test. Please note that anxiety is different from fear. Fear is an appropriate cognitive and emotional response to a perceived threat. Anxiety occurs in situations that seem uncontrollable or unavoidable to the student, but not most people. In addition, when a student is diagnosed with an Anxiety Disorder, it means that their symptoms are extreme and occur often enough that they interfere with their daily life.
Excessive, uncontrollable, often irrational worry about everyday things
Worry is disproportional to the action source of worry
In children, complaints of headaches or stomachaches are common. I’ve even seen students who are able to make themselves vomit to avoid anxiety-provoking situations like going to school.
Subtypes of Anxiety Disorders:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Contact the child’s doctor if medication is to be given at school to make sure you have up-to-date dosage and administration instructions. However, don’t tell a parent “your child needs to be on medication.” You can encourage them to talk about concerns they may have with their child’s doctor, but put your school in a vulnerable position if you start doling out medical advice!
Encourage the student to get involved in extra curricular or sports activities in order to boost their confidence and self-esteem
Acknowledge a child’s view of things as being true for them. Don’t tell them they’ll “get over it” or minimize their feelings and experiences as being “no big deal.” It’s a big deal to them!
Teach students what different emotions “feel like” to their body to help them identify when they may be feeling anxious
Help students to understand that emotions range from mild to intense and improve students’ vocabulary of various emotion words to express their feelings to others
If parents approve, teach older students facts about what Anxiety is as well as statistics about the disorder to help normalize their experiences and help them feel less “weird” or “different.”
Provide group or individual counseling-type services to help students learn relaxation and calming strategies to use when faced with an anxiety-provoking situation
Establish routines, which will help students know what to expect and feel as though they have more control over what happens to them during a day.
Help students identify triggering thoughts which lead to the physical symptoms of anxiety (ex. “I’m going to fail.” “My mom will never come back to pick me up.” “I’ll get trapped in this crowd and suffocate.” etc.) Learning the tie between thoughts, feelings, and behavior will help them be able to stop the cycle of anxiety before the physical symptoms take over and become overwhelming.
Accommodate students’ worries as much as practically possible. For example, allow them to sit close to a door if crowded assemblies bother them, allow breaks or a private location to take tests to allow them to use learned coping strategies, etc.)
For school avoidance, behavior incentives which allow students to earn special privileges can be really effective. In addition, having the parent leave school as soon as possible rather than staying around while the child is upset works wonders! Younger kids especially often get into a cycle that teaches that if they cry/scream/hold on to their parent, the parent stays longer. Breaking this cycle is extremely important if the child is ever going to attend school independently!
Distraction can be VERY helpful, especially for younger students. It’s amazing how quickly students with separation anxiety will calm down once the class begins a fun activity. The same is true for older students. Try reading a funny book as a class or telling funny stories before tests.
Don’t put unnecessary pressure on anxious students. There’s no use telling them how important state standardized tests or a final exam are – they already feel like it’s a life or death situation!
Given a real life or story scenario, Shawn will increase his ability to recognize and label emotions in himself from correctly identifying happy, sad, mad, scared to correctly labeling stressed, anxious, overwhelmed, and panicked.
Given relaxation training, Jessie will improve her ability to cope with test anxiety from making herself sick and refusing to take tests to taking deep breaths, relaxing tense muscles, and completing at least 1/2 of the test questions.
Given instruction regarding Anxiety, Sarah will increase her knowledge of Anxiety from not knowing any information about it to listing facts regarding prevalence, symptoms, and treatment independently.
Given an attendance incentive, Kelsey will increase her school attendance from attending 2 days per week to attending 4 days per week while using learned coping skills (talking to an adult, using positive self-talk, combating negative/irrational thoughts, etc.).
For test anxiety specifically, here’s a great article by Everyday Family which provides some helpful tips!
Provide a private, quiet place for calming down when stressed or anxious
Allow students to use cue cards or other visual tools to express their feelings if they struggle with verbal expression
Give breaks or extended time if you can tell the student is having a particularly difficult day
Reassure students during times of anxiety with situationally appropriate words, hugs, gestures, etc.
Arrange for extended passing periods or alternative seating locations if crowds are an issue
For test anxiety, allow alternative testing modes such as giving verbal answers or letting a student present a presentation to demonstrate knowledge when possible.