Social and Emotional Learning

5 Virtual SEL Activities for Remote Learning

4 Min Read
SEL Remote Learning Activities

If your students are still learning virtually, or learning from home (or elsewhere) occasionally, there are many fun ways to include them in your lessons. Try one of these remote social and emotional learning (SEL) activities with your classroom and create a virtual community! Plus, with the holidays around the corner, it’s the perfect time of year to allow students the space to manage their emotions and develop their sense of empathy.

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) defines SEL as:

"The process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions."

Here’s a list of five SEL remote activities to try with students in Grades K–8. Share these with your students at home to help them develop SEL skills like self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and responsible decision-making. Even if all of your teaching is in person right now, these activities can work well in a physical classroom too and can become valuable tools if your teaching becomes online or hybrid.

SEL Activities for Remote Learning

Research a Personal Hero

As students think about others and their contributions to their communities, they will develop social awareness and the ability to empathize. Try this activity to have students reflect on what makes a person heroic and what qualities they hope to emulate.

  1. Ask each student to select someone that they consider to be their personal hero. If the hero is a family member or a mentor whom they know personally, have them interview the person to uncover what makes them a positive role model. If the hero is a historical figure or famous person, ask students to research and find facts about them.
  2. Students can either create a poster about their hero or write a short essay explaining why that person is a hero.
  3. Ask students to virtually present facts about their hero to the class. This can be optional.

Decorate Your Space with a Digital Poster

Have students display the “Habits of a Learning Mindset” poster in their home work space, or as a computer background. This resource was designed to help students develop the SEL competency of self-awareness as they ask themselves questions to understand their habits and emotions more deeply. As an additional step, have students choose one habit and write down three ways in which they can develop it. Have them share their thoughts in the next class.

Habits of a Learning Mindset

Develop Connections to Family

Have students try out this writing prompt from Writable’s A Chance in the World SEL Collection. If they are spending a lot of time with those they consider family this holiday season, it’s a nice activity to ask the question: How can you strengthen ties with family members? This builds on the SEL competency for social awareness, and helps students reflect on their place in their community.

Teachers should review the writing prompt in advance. Most of the A Chance in the World curriculum is intended only for students in Grades 8 and up.

Write a Thank-You Letter

Use the Writable lesson plan Thank-You Letter to help students build social-awareness competencies by maintaining relationships.

Encourage students to write a thank-you letter to your special person. Tell this person why you want to say thanks. Describe what you like about this person. Tell a story about a time this person did something special for you.

Create Your Own Greenhouse

Growing a plant is a great hands-on activity to develop a routine with your students. If your students already have a plant at home, encourage them to name it, place it in their work area, and care for it. If they don’t, have them plant one with a seed, water it daily, and watch it grow. Encourage them to ask for help when they need it. This task requires commitment and is a nice activity to practice self-awareness and self-management of their time and resources. Have students share their plants virtually and tell the class how they care for it.

Students who want to continue with this activity can add multiple plants to one container to create a greenhouse. For each plant that they want to grow, put dirt and seeds (or a small plant) into one plastic cup. Put another cup on top of it and seal the cups together with tape. Poke holes in the top of the greenhouse. Watch your plants grow!

Download the Social-Emotional Learning Activity for more interactive ideas, including a research and writing activity.


What has been your most successful remote lesson? Share your SEL ideas for remote learning with the Shaped team on Twitter @HMHCo or by emailing us at

Social and emotional skills are essential for personal and academic growth. Discover how our social-emotional learning curriculum for elementary and middle school students can help your class thrive.

Get our free SEL guide for the latest statistics and guidance on implementing SEL in your classroom.

Explore all of the SEL resources on Shaped.

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