Social-emotional skills made fun and easy for grades K-2

“What makes you feel cranky or upset?” a presenter with BeetleDoo Kids asked Golden Hill first graders during a recent, interactive performance teaching social-emotional skills.

“When someone takes your toys,” one student replied.

Another student painted a more vivid and relatable picture, for all ages: “This morning there was so much to do, I was rushing for the school bus and I got upset,” she said.

As adults, we come to expect these daily stressors, but young children are just beginning to experience them. So how can we help kids work through stressful feelings—even as they engage in learning activities and social interactions—and still have positive and productive experiences at school, and at home?

Adult presenter holds a plastic coup cauldron in front of a puppet ghost. She faces a group of students in the school library watching the show and signals them to keep quiet.As part of Golden Hill’s social-emotional learning (SEL) curriculum and the district’s commitment to educating the whole child, the school invited BeetleDoo Kids to conduct a series of emotional-awareness assemblies for grades K-2. Using playful singalongs, animation, puppets and games, BeelteDoo helps younger students connect with themselves and the world around them through the practice of mindfulness.

The dynamic BeetleDoo crew set up stage at the Golden Hill School Library on Thursday, Dec. 19, bringing along Yorbi, Booliet and Clawdette. Puppet show presenter in the school library shows students how to take a deep, belly breath.

Yorbi, short for “Your Breath,” talked and sang to students about the difference a big breath can make in regulating difficult emotions. 

Feeling scared? Take a deep bear breath to make yourself as big as a bear, and let your breath out with a whispered bear roar! Feeling angry? Take the biggest of all breaths—the whale breath!—to let out any negative feelings. Feeling wiggly, distracted? Take a rainbow of breaths. Stretch your arms high and wide and breathe in the color yellow, while imagining your favorite, yellow things; then breathe out another color. Repeat with each color of the rainbow.

A puppet show presenter in the school library raises her arms above her head. The students and sloth puppet follow her lead.Students also learned from Booliet, a ghost and amateur chef who is always fun and loving, unless she forgets to eat breakfast. Lastly, and slowly but surely, they learned from Clawdette, a shy and gentle three-toed sloth who has the most fun when she takes her time.

Why social-emotional learning?

Decades of research show that social-emotional skills are essential to effective teaching and learning, sound decision making, physical and mental health, and success in and beyond school. Educators around the country are paying attention and providing students with tools for more healthful lives and fulfilling futures.  ​