The Social and Emotional Way to a Calmer Classroom

By Rayne Lacko, coauthor of Dream Up Now™: The Teen Journal for Creative Self-Discovery

The Social and Emotional Way to a Calmer ClassroomHave you ever had a student, or a small group of students, create a challenging environment? Perhaps this happens every once in a while, or maybe it’s a chronic issue. Young people who have something to say but who feel powerless or angry might express their feelings with destructive or disruptive behavior. When a student is mired in doubt, anxiety, or sadness, those feelings can show up in every area of their lives, including your classroom.

Social and emotional learning (SEL) activities can help young people change for the better, and the results can be profound for everyone in the group, helping you find your way toward a calmer classroom environment and greater student success. But SEL provides benefits beyond these; it can have a positive influence on you and your well-being too.

The key to successful social-emotional learning is creativity.

Troublesome emotions can make adolescents restless. But when a student engages in creative SEL and makes something—a reflective journal entry, a drawing, a playlist of songs, or a workable plan to prepare for a test—these emotions have a safe space for release. This release makes room for more positive feelings, leading to more positive interactions with you and their peers.

A useful SEL program can and should bring a sense of calm, relief, playfulness, and self-awareness to both you and your students. When educators immerse in emotional and self-reflective content with students, it supports them in reflecting on and improving their own social and emotional experiences. Engaging with emotional content can offer a more positive effect on the way you think, feel, and behave. Social and emotional learning—particularly when it invites you to create—can have a profound impact on your well-being both in and out of the classroom.

The Power of Peer Group Circles

The most powerful method for building mutual respect and understanding is establishing a peer group circle by inviting teens to leave their tables and chairs and gather in a circle. The circle establishes and nurtures insights and connections that can have a profound impact on every student in the group.

Peer group circles boost acknowledgment from peers and build a sense of community in your classroom. Among peers, the issues teens wrestle with are deeply empathized with by other teens, including conflicts with parents or social groups, issues of gender identity or body image, or stress around homework or time management. Even if a teen is experiencing extraordinary circumstances, adolescent emotions are relatable to other adolescents. But if these are not shared, a teen often believes they are the only one experiencing them.

Circle time is meaningful because it offers a level playing field to everyone, providing the opportunity to be heard and understood. Offering arts-based SEL activities designed specifically for teens gives young people a conversation prompt to share their personal experiences, stresses, hopes, and self-image. Some teens might spend hours ruminating on things that went “wrong” or were embarrassing or disappointing, but relief is possible when these thoughts are directed into SEL activities. By sharing their emotions-centered creations, teens can be authentically seen and understood. It’s also an opportunity to grow in self-understanding and to experience ways to make a positive impact on others.

Arts-based SEL activities can result in profound, positive transformation. Sometimes the most resistant student is sitting on what is to them the most significant, poignant art. When a teen explains the meaning behind their SEL activity, the rewards are many, including:

  • emotional release
  • being authentically heard
  • being valued for one’s true self
  • receiving appreciation and admiration

Positive classroom relationships and cooperation depend on trust. When a teen doesn’t know many—or any—other people who are going through what they are dealing with, it can lead to feelings of isolation. But peer circles are not meant to pinpoint only struggles. It’s equally as important to spend time focusing on good things that happen and helping teens build their lives to go the way they want. Your peer group circle chips away the isolation by celebrating each teen’s point of view, affirming their creativity, and offering a safe place to transform their feelings for success.

Providing ample time and space for students to talk and, just as important, for peers to respond helps establish trust and openness. Teens can empathize with the challenges of adolescence, help peers feel authentically heard and understood, and share practical insights that can only come from firsthand experience.

Change may be the only constant, but isn’t it time for change that decreases stress and trauma—for both young people and adults?

If you need something to change, your students likely need it to change too.

One in four students is experiencing depression or anxiety symptoms, and youth emergency psychiatric visits for depression, anxiety, and behavioral challenges increased by 28 percent in just four years, according to a recent US Surgeon General Advisory. By facilitating regular peer circles, you allow teens to listen to one another, offer support, and provide a safe environment to explore their feelings through SEL activities with the relief of knowing they aren’t alone in their struggles.

Including SEL in your classroom allows you and your students to witness positive change. By exchanging time wasted on emotional stress for creative social and emotional engagement, students learn coping skills and competencies, build resilience, and improve their relationships. Educators reinforce these skills as they teach them and benefit from a calmer, more cooperative learning environment.

You may worry that providing space for SEL to help teens manage their emotions takes time you just don’t have. Consider the time that emotionally charged misbehavior takes up during the school day. Dream Up Now can incrementally replace those incidents with calm, explorative creativity. Consider time taken up by student apathy, emotional distraction, or sadness. Imagine replacing it with playful, self-directed goal setting.

The new Dream Up Now Leader’s Guide is intended for educators, counselors, and other caring adults to support young people using Dream Up Now: The Teen Journal for Creative Self-Discovery as a tool to work through fluctuating emotions, know themselves better, and create healthy and meaningful lives.

You can use this free guide to support teens working individually or in a small group. The guide provides background and need-to-know information about Dream Up Now and how it benefits students, offers suggestions for preparing to guide the activities, presents a template for conducting a group circle meeting, and discusses some key considerations for working with teens as they explore and share emotions.

The free guide includes a sample agenda, free printables, and an overview of all the emotion sets and activities. Best of all, it includes information to support you and your creativity too.

Engaging with creative SEL activities can help teens take control of sometimes wild emotions, and the result is a happier, more efficient, and joyful life. And those results are contagious.


Rayne LackoRayne Lacko is a Young Adult author and an advocate for the arts as a form of social and emotional well-being. A teen-writing mentor, she cohosts a youth creative workshop, an annual writing camp, and a teen arts showcase. Through her work, she inspires young people and their families to use creativity to stimulate positive change in their lives and communities. Rayne lives near Seattle, Washington, with her spouse and two boys (a pianist and a drummer), a noisy cat, and her canine best friend.

Dream Up NowRayne is the coauthor of Dream Up Now™: The Teen Journal for Creative Self-Discovery.

We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.

FSP Springybook Signature(c)© 2022 by Free Spirit Publishing. All rights reserved. The views expressed in this post represent the opinion of the author and not necessarily Free Spirit Publishing.

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Seeking Personally Relevant SEL Books for Children and Teens

by Deidra Purvis, acquisitions editor for children and teens for Free Spirit Publishing

Seeking Personally Relevant SEL Books for Children and TeensHello! My name is Deidra Purvis, and I’m pleased to introduce myself as the new acquisitions editor for children and teens at Free Spirit Publishing. I’m excited to share my journey to this role as acquisitions editor and the types of books I’m seeking.

Growing up, what I remember more than anything was my mother’s repeated wish for me and my two older brothers: she wanted us to be happy, healthy, and safe. She told us this nearly every day.

But like all children, I faced challenges in meeting those goals. Through my own experiences and those of family and friends, I became aware of many hard facts about life from an early age: alcoholism, body image issues, debt. But my mother’s mantra—to be happy, healthy, and safe—stuck with me.

In my search for happiness, I got a lot of things wrong, and I got a few things right. Because of the magical world of the internet and books, as a teenager, I started doing something none of my peers were doing in my small, rural, mostly white town in Ohio in the early 2000s: I started meditating. I also started pursuing happiness in other ways—riding my bicycle, writing, and gardening. So began my passion for social and emotional wellbeing.

Because of the lack of access and lack of representation, children and teens in rural areas, low-income households, BIPOC children, and those belonging to other underrepresented groups often aren’t able to see what’s possible. I didn’t have a lot of examples of career paths in front of me. I loved writing, so I became an 8th-grade English teacher.

Later, my life led me to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Here, I found an organization where I could learn more deeply about meditation and mindfulness. I enrolled in an MFA program in creative writing, learned about the art of writing, and gained experience on an editorial board.

I also spent seven years as a personal book shopper, helping teachers and other education leaders find books for their classrooms—books that would help children and teens fall in love with reading. This is when I first heard books described as “windows, mirrors, and sliding glass doors,” as coined by Rudine Sims Bishop.

In my role curating custom book collections for teachers across the country, “windows, mirrors, and sliding glass doors” was exactly what I was looking for. I wanted every child and teenager to have access to high-quality, high-interest books that they would find personally relevant, and that would encourage empathy for and relationships with others.

Working with educators, I also saw a rise in the whole-child approach to teaching, leading to an increase in social and emotional learning (SEL) in schools. Thinking back to my own experience as an educator, I was brought tremendous joy when I saw my students grow as readers and writers. But my real dream for my students wasn’t for them to grow up to be the smartest, most talented humans; my dream for them was to discover their passions and grow up to do good things in the world, for themselves and for others.

During my time as a curator of classroom book collections, I received requests to curate book lists aligned with SEL programs—allowing me to build collections of both fiction and nonfiction trade books aligned with key skills and traits such as growth mindset, connectedness, mindfulness, determination, and creativity.

This was my favorite part of my job, and my passion for SEL grew. I now see it everywhere. When I think about the core content areas in school, I think about how SEL is the most important tool for success. Take science, for example. For a scientist to succeed, they need to appreciate and celebrate failure as a learning opportunity, and they need to have the determination and patience to keep going. They need a growth mindset.

When building these collections, I sought SEL books where students could personally relate to the character—see themselves represented—and have discussions about the character’s emotions, actions, and skills. As acquisitions editor for children and teens, these are the books I’m most excited to find.

Whether picked up by students or caregivers at a bookstore, the library, or school—my goal is to acquire books that will make our youth feel seen and provide them with the tools they need to face challenges.

My life has come full circle. I’ve been an educator, writer, bookseller, and a person with a passion for SEL. Now, as acquisitions editor for children and teens for Free Spirit Publishing, it’s all combined into one. I still have the important role of finding books children and teens will find personally relevant, meaningful, and helpful.

Only now, I’m one step closer to the source. I get to find books that need to be made available to children and teens but aren’t yet published.

And here’s what I’m looking for in children and teen books:

  • Authentic voices from underrepresented authors
  • Human characters
  • Books that are culturally relevant for today’s children and teens
  • High-interest and lyrically written pictures books about experiences children will find personally meaningful and that also align with an SEL skill or strategy
  • Fiction and nonfiction books portraying SEL skills applied to STEM
  • Books that portray important stories and explore the truths of pain and joy from historically underrepresented voices
  • Titles applying SEL to youth activism
  • Titles exploring appreciation for the environment
  • Books for kids and teens on mental health topics

I’m especially seeking manuscripts from authors of diverse representation; including race, ethnicity, culture, religion, social class, LGBTQ identities, ability, and physical differences.

Writers and fellow SEL enthusiasts, please follow me on Twitter @FSPacqauisitions. I look forward to reading your work!

For details about how to submit a book proposal to us, check out our submission guidelines on Submittable.

Deidra Purvis, the acquisitions editor for children and teens for Free Spirit PublishingDeidra Purvis is the acquisitions editor for children and teens for Free Spirit Publishing. She’s looking for new board books, picture books, and chapter books with an SEL focus. Follow her on Twitter @FSPacquisitions.

We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.

FSP Springybook Signature(c)© 2022 by Free Spirit Publishing. All rights reserved. The views expressed in this post represent the opinion of the author and not necessarily Free Spirit Publishing.

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How Parents Can Help Kids Develop Self-Confidence

By Deborah Farmer Kris, author of the All the Time series

How Parents Can Help Kids Develop Self-ConfidenceA couple of years ago, my youngest child woke up and announced his intention to ride his bike without training wheels . . . right now. Note: he had never once attempted this task.

He hopped on with confidence. But after about 10 minutes and multiple falls, he threw the bike down in frustration.

“It takes a while to learn how to ride,” I said.

“But mom,” he replied. “I don’t want to learn how to ride a bike—I want to know how to ride a bike!”

Who doesn’t want a magic wand that lets you bypass the “stretch” part of learning and get right to the “mastery” part?

But growth doesn’t always work that way. As I write in my book You Are Growing All the Time:

Sometimes learning is a breeze.
Sometimes you struggle through it.
You try and think and try again,
and then say, “I can do it!”

Kids are going to grow no matter what—on the inside and on the outside. But as parents, we can increase their self-confidence and perseverance by reminding them of all the ways they have grown, all the ways they are growing, and all the ways they will grow.

Remind Them of All the Ways They Have Grown

In early childhood, every month seems filled with changes. What are the little things they can do now that they couldn’t do a few months ago? Zip up their jacket? Put away their clothes? Help walk the dog? Name their colors? Use their words to express their feelings? Share their toys with a friend?

When you see it, say it. Let them hear you say, “You just put on your snow pants all by yourself. You couldn’t do that last year!” or “Look at you! A few months ago, you were learning your letters, and now you can write your name all by yourself!”

Celebrate All the Ways They Are Growing

Kids need to be noticed. And sometimes, the small observations mean the most. I was inspired by a friend who made it a bedtime ritual to point out one good thing she noticed each day about her kids. This ritual pushed her to be on the lookout for all those little ways her children were growing, helping, learning, and being in the world. And her kids ended each day with a powerful affirmation.

Sometimes we forget how much learning happens in ordinary moments—and how we can use their excitement and wonder to propel further growth.

For example, maybe your child suddenly expresses an interest in cooking. Great! A four-year-old might not be able to make pancakes on their own yet, but this is an opportunity to practice for them to practice sorting, measuring, mixing, and following directions—key math and executive function skills. Right there, they are growing before your eyes while engaging in a task they care about.

Talk About All the Ways They Will Grow

We’ve all heard kids say in frustration, “I can’t do it!” Part of our job, after the emotional storm has settled, is to remind them that they can’t do it yet. Every skill takes time to learn. They will get there—and they will get there faster because they want to learn. Their frustration is a signal that this is something that matters to them!

Ask kids what they want to learn, and really listen to their answers. What new skills? What new experiences? What are they looking forward to? This teaches us a lot about our kids and can give us information about how to support and celebrate their growth. We can also help by previewing new things they will learn in school and at home in the next year or two.

My friend Margaret makes this a birthday ritual: “At birthday time, we sit down with the child and review the skills they should have learned that year and what they will be learning the coming year. We try to make it celebratory: ‘Wow, you learned to make your own lunch, wipe off the table, sweep, and clean windows this year! This coming year, you’ll learn to sew a button, make grilled cheese, and clean a bathroom. You are growing up!’”

My latest book, You Are Growing All the Time, is dedicated to Fred Rogers because his insight about “growing on the inside” guides so much of my work as a parent and educator. As he wrote:

“‘Growing on the inside’ are the words I use when I talk with children about such things as learning to wait, learning to keep on trying, being able to talk about their feelings, and to express those feelings in constructive ways. These signs of growth need at least as much notice and applause as the outward kind, and children need to feel proud of them.”

Deborah Farmer Kris author photoDeborah Farmer Kris is a child development expert and parent educator. She serves as a columnist and consultant for PBS KIDS, and she writes for NPR’s MindShift and other national publications. Over the course of her career, Deborah has taught almost every grade K–12, served as a school administrator, directed leadership institutes, and presented to hundreds of parents and educators around the United States. Deborah and her husband live in Massachusetts with their two kids—who love to test every theory she’s ever had about child development. Mostly, she loves sharing nuggets of practical wisdom that can help kids and families thrive. Visit her at

Free Spirit books by Deborah Farmer Kris:
I Love You All the Time book cover You Have Feelings All the Time book cover You Wonder All the Time book cover You Are Growing All the Time book cover

We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.

FSP Springybook Signature(c)© 2022 by Free Spirit Publishing. All rights reserved. The views expressed in this post represent the opinion of the author and not necessarily Free Spirit Publishing.

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The 5 Books I Want to Give Every Teacher (and one I had to keep for myself!)

by Tom Rademacher, acquisitions editor for professional resources for Free Spirit Publishing and Shell Education

The 5 Books I Want to Give Every Teacher (and one I had to keep for myself!)When I walked in for my first interview at Free Spirit, I was kind of hoping I would hate it.

After a few months of a rather demoralizing job hunt, I was suddenly juggling a few different offers and not looking to make things more complicated.

Walking in, I knew I was in trouble. First, there is a sign right by the door that says, “Dogs on Premises,” and the first employee I met was indeed that very perfect dog. (I have requested that this blog be the top five best pictures of Charlotte but was denied.) I spent the next few minutes before my interview browsing the titles on display in the Free Spirit lobby, and my goodness. The books. The books!

By the time I walked into the interview, I knew I wanted this job, knew I’d love to work where books like this were made.

Now I’ve got the job, and my biggest problem is resisting the urge to raid the warehouse and send books out to every teacher in the world where I know they will do good for kids and schools and learning. There’s a reason I don’t work on the money side of things.

So, I won’t get to send out all the books in the warehouse, no matter how much they are not being read in there, but this month I do get to send out a few. I thought it would be a great time to introduce you to the books that made me love Free Spirit as soon as I walked in the door.

The Five Books I Want to Send to Every Teacher (But Will Get to Send to a Few)

Jamie Is Jamie

A beautiful children’s book about a new kid at school. Jamie is never gendered and plays with the boys and the girls, and everyone learns that it’s cool to play however you want to play and be whoever you want to be.

I just love how this book is like, “Yeah, Jamie does things a little differently because everyone does things a little different in one way or another, so it’s not a big deal.” This would be a great book to talk about gender norms, gender identity, or just that it’s cool to play however you want to play.

Start Seeing and Serving Underserved Gifted Students

The “gifted” title means different things everywhere, but an almost universal (and disappointing) truth is that the makeup of gifted programs skews heavily towards neurotypical, middle-class-and-above white kids who speak English as a first language.

Another almost universal truth about gifted education is that the best strategies and opportunities for gifted kids work well in every classroom. This book is packed with practical, engaging strategies that would make any classroom a richer and more inviting experience for students too often underserved.

LGBTQ: The Survival Guide for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Teens

I wish there were a million books like this. Aimed at the age where many are asking big questions about who they are, this book gives important context, definitions, advice, and information.

For the right teen, I have no doubt this book could be (and has been) an actual lifesaver, especially with how often it directs to other sources for more information and support. Teens have questions—big, messy, complex questions—and the more we can answer them without judgment or shame, the more we can assure them they’re not alone in whatever they are feeling or thinking, the better.

The We Say What’s Okay Series

This beautifully illustrated and skillfully written series will help parents and other trusted adults teach students age-appropriate lessons about consent and communication. These books carry powerful lessons for young kids, lessons that will help them be and stay safe in positive and important ways: learning to say no about what to play, how to show and share affection, and about naming, understanding, and processing our feelings. These books are gorgeous.

How (and Why) To Get Students Talking

I taught for 16 years, which is enough time to have started—and failed—at something like an advisory group about 18 times. (We kept re-starting in the COVID years.) Sixteen years is also enough time to see just how amazing it can be when students feel comfortable and safe enough with each other to have real conversations.

I wish I’d found my way to this book before I left the classroom. All those hours spent scanning the internet for ideas, sketching things out during team meetings and on weekends, and the whole time there was a thoughtful, in-depth, and practical book that could have helped me all along. Especially in these last few years when getting groups talking has seemed harder and harder, this book feels needed.

The One I Took Home

After the interview, I was invited to pick a book to take home. (“Like, for good, forever, it’s mine?” I’m not used to being given things.) I knew exactly which book I would grab because I have a near-teen at home who could really use it:

The Gifted Teen Survival Guide: Smart, Sharp, and Ready for (Almost) Anything

For many years, I was guilty of the misconception that gifted kids didn’t need a lot of help. This book would have been a helpful one to read before I started teaching and would have been one that I kept multiple copies of on hand to lend to students who could use it.

For many kids, I imagine the largest strength in reading this book would be knowing they’re not alone in how their brain interacts with the world around them and knowing that it’s okay to need help even if you’re pretty darn smart.

Which Free Spirit books would you send to teachers?

Tom Rademacher, acquisitions editor for professional resources for Free Spirit Publishing and Shell EducationTom Rademacher is the acquisitions editor for professional learning at Free Spirit Publishing and Shell Education. He’s on the lookout for new voices, fresh perspectives, and all the books he wished he had while he was teaching. You can reach him at

We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.

FSP Springybook Signature(c)© 2022 by Free Spirit Publishing. All rights reserved. The views expressed in this post represent the opinion of the author and not necessarily Free Spirit Publishing.

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Simple Mindfulness Activities to Help Students Learn

Helping students understand their emotions and behavior when they’re young will set them on a path to being successful learners and empathetic people throughout their lives. Our new book Teaching Kids to Pause, Cope, and Connect provides easy-to-implement lessons and activities that help students develop self-regulation strategies, healthy coping skills, and empathy and compassion.

This exclusive look inside Teaching Kids to Pause, Cope, and Connect shares how you can implement a brief mindfulness routine in your classroom.

Simple Mindfulness Activities to Help Students Learn

A brief mindfulness routine can help students prepare to start a lesson or to move on from it by calming their physical activity and their thoughts. A consistent and brief mindfulness practice can develop into a habit for students when done repeatedly. These routines are highly customizable based on the classroom environment and the mix of personalities present on any given day.

Here, we offer suggestions for ways to guide children through mindful pauses, helping them calm their minds and bodies before beginning each lesson (mindful check-in). A similar routine to conclude each lesson (mindful checkout) pro­vides an extra opportunity for students to solidify what they have learned before moving on to their next activity.

Mindful Check-In

Mini Mindfulness Script

You can use the following script as a mindful check-in at the beginning of each lesson to help students practice mindfulness and be present for the lesson.

Sit comfortably and notice your body settle down.

Let go of what you were doing before this.

Breathe normally. Pay attention to your breath as it comes in and goes out.

Breathe in . . . breathe out . . . That’s one breath.

Count your breaths up to four.

Pause for students to take four breaths. When you reach four breaths, focus your attention on me.

Notice how your body feels right now.

The Pause

The Pause is another mindful check-in option. Once students learn the Pause, we recom­mend using it as a mindful check-in for each lesson in this book to reinforce the practice and help students build a habit. To use the Pause for a mindful check-in, follow the steps below.

Invite students to find a comfortable position and close their eyes or gently gaze downward. Guide them through the Pause:

  1. Stop; take a breath; observe; proceed.
  2. 4 × 4 × 4 Breath: Exhale to the count of four. Inhale to the count of four. Repeat four times.
  3. Mindful Detective: Ask: What signals are you getting from your body? What are you feeling? Pause. What are you thinking? Pause.
  4. Wise Action: Ask: What should you choose to do? Students may not have something immediate to So you may suggest they prepare to sit quietly and pay attention.

Ask students to open their eyes if closed. They can wriggle their fingers. Then begin the lesson. (The Pause can also serve as a mindful checkout; see below. If you’re using the Pause for a mindful checkout, move on to the next activity of the students’ day.)

Mindful Checkout

At the end of each lesson, you can do a mindful checkout to help students consolidate their learning and prepare to transition to their next activities. Invite students to find a comfortable position and sit quietly. Then, guide them through one of the following mindful checkout activities.

Practice Breath Awareness

Guide students through the Mini Mindfulness Script (use the script above). After students have taken four breaths, ask them to notice how their bodies and minds feel at that moment. Then move on to the next task.

Be Mindful of Change

This mindful checkout has students pause to notice how they feel at the end of the lesson compared to how they felt at the beginning. This is a simple way for students to notice changes they experienced as a result of the lesson and a way for you to assess the effect of the activity on members of the group.

Begin by asking students to sit comfortably and notice what they are thinking and feeling in their bodies. Ask them to consider how they felt before the lesson and to notice how they feel now. To add fun and creativity to the checkout, suggest a playful checkout metaphor, which can change with each lesson. Introduce a category for students to use as a metaphor (such as an animal or a color), asking them to describe how they felt before and after using items from that category.

For example, you could prompt students by saying, “Describe how you felt before and after the lesson as . . . animals.” Demonstrate this by sharing your own description first. For example, you might say, “Before this lesson, I was feeling a little stressed and racing around—like a squirrel. Now, after practicing belly breathing with all of you, I feel relaxed and sleepy—like a bear getting ready to hibernate.”

Summarize the comparison: “Coming in, stressed squirrel. Now, hibernating bear.” Then ask students to give their own descrip­tions using animal metaphors. One student might say that he felt angry like a growling lion before the lesson. But afterward, he may feel calm and confident like a soaring eagle.

Keeping metaphors to one category rather than leaving it open-ended provides stu­dents with guidance and structure, as well as a way to compare their metaphors and relate to each other. This is a fun way for students to share their experiences and build connec­tions. As they get used to it, students may suggest their own categories of metaphors. Here are some categories you could use:

  • animals
  • colors
  • weather
  • types of food
  • types of flowers
  • insects
  • environments in nature (ocean, mountains, forest)
  • cartoon/video game characters

Practice the Pause

Once students learn the skills for the Pause, you may choose to practice it as both the mindful check-in and mindful checkout. This repetition can help children master the skill, so it becomes more automatic and accessible when they are distressed. To use the Pause for a mindful checkout, follow the steps listed above.

Adapted from Teaching Kids to Pause, Cope, and Connect: Lessons for Social Emotional Learning and Mindfulness by Mark Purcell, Psy.D., and Kellen Glinder, M.D., copyright © 2022. Free Spirit Publishing Inc., Minneapolis, MN; 800-735-7323; All rights reserved.

We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.

FSP Springybook Signature(c)© 2022 by Free Spirit Publishing. All rights reserved. The views expressed in this post represent the opinion of the author and not necessarily Free Spirit Publishing.

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