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How to Weave SEL into Common Core Curriculum

Updated: Nov 10, 2022

An example of a Kikori activity and how it is used to build self-awareness, increase empathy and decrease bullying. This demonstrates the 'holy grail' of experiential, Social Emotional Learning (eSEL) activities and our vision at Kikori: eSEL activities woven into the fabric of Common Core curriculum.

Imagine a teacher is trying to teach multiples - she could stand at the front of the class and students could repeat, "7 - 14 - 21" OR they could play a Kikori activity that is active, engaging and helps them practice real-world experiential, Social Emotional Learning (eSEL) skills.

Students sit in a circle and they go in order around the circle. Michelle claps and says "1," Monique claps and says "2," José claps and says "3" and so on until "7" when Shawn claps but he does not say "7." This goes on and for every multiple, students are supposed to clap but NOT say the number. Students are engaged, invested AND learning multiples. On '21,' Zack claps and says "21!" All of the students get upset because Zack made a mistake and NOW there is an opportunity to focus on the eSEL skills.

The teacher uses intention reflection questions to ask:

REFLECT: What happened?

"We got upset and frustrated at Zack." "We said mean things." "We wanted to win, and we blamed Zack." "This made Zack shut down and not want to play"

CONNECT: How does what happened connect to your life?

"The other week, I kicked the ball the wrong way in soccer and everyone yelled at me. It made me feel sad. I didn't want to play anymore and I shut down."

GROW: How do we want our classroom to be? What can we do differently?

"We want to be able to make mistakes." "We want to cheer each other on." "We want to give each other high fives and say 'you can do it!'"

The next time when students play an activity or make a mistake, they give each other a high five. Students feel safer. They feel more connected. They have practiced perspective-taking and most importantly - empathy.

This is the approach that appears in EVERY Kikori activity.

  • Sticks, Stones & Bones: Students learn real communication skills by sitting back to back and explaining using their words how to create a figure out of blocks - students learn how to speak, listen, check for understanding, ask questions - and they improve with each round (plus - they could be practicing shapes or geometry)

  • Moonball: Students learn to cooperate by keeping a ball in the air for as many hits as possible - they learn about communication, taking turns, strategizing, including everyone, setting goals (plus - they could also be counting, counting by 2's, 5's, practicing the alphabet)

  • Cupstacker: Students learn growth mindset and teamwork by stacking cups multiple times and processing how they learn something new each time - this learning can be applied to how we edit our papers, how we practice our math facts - and how to work together (plus - they could be learning about physics or architecture)

Kikori activities are not just fun games or role plays, they are kinesthetic metaphors where students get a safe container to practice - and learn they are more alike than different through the processing questions.

Share with us in the comments! Do you play these activities in your classroom? What do YOU notice?

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