How to do Social-Emotional Learning Prompts for ESL

Sometimes the best classroom activities come out of the simplest things. Case in point, these Social-Emotional Learning prompts for ESL students created by Teresa X. Nguyen and illustrated by Tyler Hoang and Nathaniel Cayanan. Each worksheet has a written prompt and an original hand-drawn illustration. It’s simple enough but designed to work for students at any level. It’s a particularly powerful tool, as there are plenty of social-emotional learning activities and prompts for the mainstream classroom.

But what’s unique about these worksheets is that they’re the only social-emotional learning prompts for ESL students and the ESL classroom! Because they’re so simple and there’s so much space on the page, students can respond by drawing, writing, jotting down words and notes, or discussing. You can even scaffold, moving from sketches and single words all the way to a longer piece of writing.

Because these positive activity prompts  are so much fun, I couldn’t sharing some of my own ideas for filling them out. I’ve also included some ways to implement them in the classroom! Links to the worksheets on Teachers Pay Teachers are in the captions or check out all our printable, downloadable, or shareable Positive Activities.

I’ll start with my favorite!

New Emotions or Emojis

Students draw expressions to represent new feelings or attitudes and then share their creations with the class. They can get other students to guess their emotions from the drawings or share one emoji they want, or even an emotion they think needs a name! Like that feeling when you’re physically tired but emotionally not ready for bed!

Here’s a list of a few ways students can respond to the Social Emotional Learning prompts, depending on their language level and the logistics of the class. I’ve put the activities in roughly order of complexity. However, what works for your classroom and what is easier or harder for your students may also vary! You can even scaffold the activities and have students start anywhere on the list, then work their way up. Go from a sketch to a short writing in a few simple moves!

  1. Sketch an response.
  2. Label the drawing with key words.
  3. Discuss your response with a partner.
  4. Write short phrases or sentences as a response.
  5. Brainstorm ideas with a partner or in a group.
  6. Outline a longer response, using a graphic organizer or writing frame.
  7. Discuss the prompt in detail with a partner.
  8. Write a paragraph or series of paragraphs.
  9. Share written answers and provide peer feedback

#Thankful Prompt

I love this thankful prompt because it really tells you what your students value in others. What do they love about the people in their lives? They may want to name these people, but they don’t have to. This is a great discussion prompt as students can share about one particular person in their lives.

A Selfie

This is a fun getting-to-know-you activity that can be done in a lot of different ways. Students can draw themselves realistically or how they want to appear. They can label the drawing with facts about themselves, the clothes they like to wear, how they feel about their appearance (like their favorite part of themselves). They can draw themselves doing something they love or wearing their favorite clothes or sitting in their favorite place. What do they want to share about themselves? Extend this activity by making a gallery of classmates for everyone to get to know everyone else. Have them do one at the beginning of the term and at the end so they can compare their portraits.

My Robot Social-Emotional ESL Prompt

This prompt is a lot of fun for young learners. They’re probably making their own robots anyway and the activity can give them a lot of vocabulary. Students can learn words for describing machines and electronics including button, gear, switch, click, and more! They can also learn words for the functions their robot performs.

They could focus on a problem and have their robot be a solution to that problem, which helps build vocabulary in a particular area. Or just have them go crazy designing the coolest robot they can think of and labelling all the features. Then they can share with a partner or with the whole class.

You may ask how to use this as a social-emotional learning prompt specifically. Students can design robots to help with social or emotional life issues-a companion robot, a therapist bot, a tool to help with special needs. Your students’ imagination is the limit.

My Rhyming Poem: Writing Prompt for SEL 

There are a lot of ways to get students writing short rhyming poems. They can read and copy rhyming poems, including formulaic ones such as limericks or “Roses are red, violets are blue” poems. They can sing rhyming songs and copy the structure. You can even have them imitate a picture book. Let them enjoy flipping through a rhyming dictionary for ideas.

Looking for a whole book of these? Check out the paperback of 60 Positive Activities for Kids, for sale wherever books are sold! We also have them in slide format to make them easy to share in-person or online!

And feel free to share your ideas for using these wonderful creations in the classroom!

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