Team-building activities, challenge courses, and games are common methods for teaching Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), but outdoor science experiences are rich with many more opportunities for SEL! Almost any outdoor experience—such as a science investigation, moving across challenging terrain, a discussion about environmental issues, nature observation activities, or a habitat restoration project—involves social interactions and poses opportunities to develop SEL skills. This routine offers a structure to support students in developing SEL competencies as they participate in any environmental education experience.
Social Emotional Learning Routine has three parts. First, students discuss the skills they will need during your chosen activity (e.g., problem-solving for designing an investigation, self-awareness for crossing a creek, perspective-taking in a discussion, etc.). Students also identify whether these skills fall in their comfort zone or at their “growth edge.” Part 2 is a brief check-in midway through the chosen activity. Part 3 takes place after students participate in your chosen activity, as they reflect on SEL and the learning experience.
- Think about skills or behaviors that help groups work well together.
- Reflect on the strengths and assets they bring to a group.
- Discuss specific SEL competencies they will need to participate in the chosen activity, such as a science investigation or physical challenge.
- Practice SEL competencies in the context of an activity in your program, such as a science investigation or physical challenge.
- Reflect on the learning process, their skill development, and where else they might apply their skills.
We want to acknowledge Youth Outside for reviewing this session and supporting us to develop more equitable, inclusive, and culturally relevant instructional materials. Read more about our collaboration with Youth Outside.