Social and Emotional Learning

15 SEL Writing and Journal Prompts for Grades 3–12

4 Min Read
SEL Writing Prompts and Journal Prompts

Deciding which classes to take. Starting at a new school. Learning a new skill. Between academics, social life, and home life, students can face any number of challenges during the school year that will require social, emotional, and cognitive skills to navigate.

That’s where social and emotional learning (SEL) comes in.

According to the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) framework, SEL consists of five competencies:

  • Self-Awareness: recognizing one's emotions and their effect on behavior
  • Self-Management: regulating emotions, thoughts, and behaviors to achieve goals
  • Responsible Decision-Making: making good choices and evaluating consequences
  • Relationship Skills: developing positive relationships; resolving conflicts constructively
  • Social Awareness: empathizing with others and understanding their perspectives, including those from diverse backgrounds

By incorporating these elements of human development into the curriculum, SEL not only increases academic performance in students but also leads to improved behavior and attitudes towards themselves and others.

To introduce these concepts to your students, Shaped is providing SEL writing prompts and journal prompts for your elementary, middle, or high school class. Included below is also a selection of free hyperlinked prompts from Writable. Follow the links to find further SEL writing ideas for your class. By answering prompts that explore their emotions, confidence, and likes and dislikes, students can begin to understand themselves, and others, better.

Elementary School SEL Journal Prompts


Write a reflection about a time when you felt mad, sad, or nervous. Include details on what you did to feel less mad, sad, or nervous.


Write a response about a time you practiced a new skill. You can write about a sport, game, musical instrument, or something else. Did you get better? Tell what you did and how you felt.

Responsible Decision-Making

Retell a story in which a character has a problem. Tell about how this character solves the problem.

Relationship Skills

Have you ever had a disagreement with a friend? How did you both work to resolve this disagreement, and what was the final outcome?

Social Awareness

Describe a time that you were thankful for something that someone else did for you. What were the emotions that you felt at the time and how did you express them?

Middle School SEL Journal Prompts


Write about a time you felt uncomfortable at first but more relaxed later. What did you learn about yourself through the experience?


Write about what you hope to accomplish the next 12 months. Include details on how you will accomplish these goals.

Responsible Decision-Making

Write a narrative about a time that your opinion changed. What caused it to change? Use details, dialogue, or descriptions to tell what happened.

Relationship Skills

Write a story about accomplishing something as part of a group that could not have been done individually. You can write a nonfiction story involving you or someone you know, or you can write a fictional story that includes collaboration.

Social Awareness

Think of a way that you helped solve an issue faced in your family, school, or community. Write a personal essay describing how the issue was resolved.

High School SEL Journal Prompts


Reflect on the emotions that you experienced during the last test you took. How did those emotions affect the rest of that class, day, or week?


Write a few paragraphs in response to this prompt: what internal qualities or external supports have helped you accept new challenges and adjust to change?

Responsible Decision-Making

Think about some questions your friends or classmates might ask about relationships, personal goals, school, or family. Then list the questions and write an advice column in response.

Relationship Skills

Write a few paragraphs describing the qualities that you want in a teammate or partner. Include personal qualities that are important in supporting communication, cooperation, and collaboration.

Social Awareness

Write a few paragraphs in response to this prompt: what are some ways that you help others in your family or community?

Social and emotional learning continues to be a vital part of teaching and learning from elementary school through high school. By utilizing the SEL writing prompts like the ones above, students can build important skills to help them thrive, no matter what challenges they face.


Learn how to integrate social and emotional learning across all subject areas with our SEL curriculum.

Explore an all-new series of social and emotional learning writing prompts for grades 3–12 with Writable.

For more SEL journal prompts and activities, check out the following resources:

Get our free SEL guide full of research-backed information.

Related Reading

WF1943213 Shaped 2024 Blog Post What Is Academic Vocabulary Hero

Jennifer Corujo
Shaped Editor

WF1964639 Hero Banner
Photo: Kindergarten teacher Melissa Hawkins
Happy Teacher Appreciation Week hero

Brenda Iasevoli
Shaped Executive Editor