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SEL Treasure Hunt

Date Posted:  Tuesday, April 13, 2021


Students from grades 1-4 embarked on a fantastic SEL-related treasure hunt this month. The treasure hunt was not only fun for the kids, but educational as well. When I taught English abroad, I used to create a Jeopardy style game show for my students to review lessons that I taught throughout the semester. I wanted to make learning fun, interactive, and as stimulating as possible. I often think to myself, “how can I help create something memorable for the kids?” and I used this philosophy to create the Chouette D’or treasure hunt.

Inspired by a real life French “armchair” treasure hunt created by Regis Hauser in 1993, I created clues that were hidden all over the school that the children had to search for in teams. Each clue was a Social and Emotional Learning value or word that we had touched upon in our previous lessons. These words were also scrambled so the students had to work very hard together to figure out the answers. For example when they found “Na Natserpud”, I defined the scrambled word as a person who stands up for others who is being hurt or teased. The opposite word would be “bystander.” Can you guess what it is? An Upstander!! Then, we went a little deeper and we discussed the importance of standing up for others connecting the term to movements like Black Lives Matter, Stop Asian Hate, and issues they might experience on the playground, like relational aggression. We spoke about the need to look out for one another and to treat each other with loving kindness. We also talked about how important it is to speak up when we witness the mistreatment of others. We spoke similarly when we found all the other SEL terms as well. 

As the children went around school to decipher their SEL words, there were some letters that were circled. They had to write these special letters down and put them all together to unscramble the last clue word which was “skylight.” They then looked around the school for the skylight where the golden owl was hidden. When found, they received a treasure and we then had a dance party to celebrate their team-based efforts! I witnessed the children work so hard and work so well with one another to find the golden owl. The whole school was aglow with magic and wonder while we tackled this two week project. This was a wonderfully collaborative project which was supported by all the teachers as well. It was nice to see everyone so actively involved in such a fun and purposeful endeavor! I will definitely make this treasure hunt an annual tradition. Below you can take part in the magic by trying to guess the SEL terms that were used in the Chouette D’Or!!!



To have or to be……….

E_____________    Caring and understanding how others feel. Putting yourself in others shoes. To practice___________ you identify what someone is feeling, you then validate that your perceptions were right by asking them something like “Are you sad, scared, frustrated, etc.. Then you respect how they feel and help them process the emotion. 

C_________________  Recognizing that others are sad, in pain, or suffering and taking action to help. If you feel something in your heart when you see a houseless person for example, and bring them some food or clothing, you have __________________ in your heart.

A g______ l______________  If you listen with your ears, eyes, and heart, you are this! Active listening is something that needs to be practiced. When talking with someone don’t just wait to say what you want to say, REALLY do your best to listen with care like a good friend or a parent.

An a______  A person and often a friend who supports others against racism, bigotry, and prejudice. We can be an ______ by educating ourselves about important causes and struggles and being there for others. Being an ______  means we celebrate and share the joy and brilliance of others as well. Simply put; we lift up others and don't put them down.

An u______________  A person who sticks up for others if they are being teased or bullied. Don’t by a bystander, be an ______________! Imagine how you would feel if someone stood up for you when you needed help!

S_____-c_______________ Believing and trusting in yourself. Understanding what your strengths and weaknesses are and being ok with it. Saying things like “I can do it” or “don’t give up” are part of your mental outlook when you are________________________. 

P__________ Doing your best to have a good attitude and not being negative. Using positive self talk, learning and growing from your mistakes, and practicing forgiveness help greatly when being ____________. 

C______ You feel this way when you take 3 deep breaths or when you meditate. Finding peace is sometimes hard to do. But hopefully through SEL you will have many tools to feel this in your mind and body when you need. 

G______________ You enjoy sharing your time, your things, etc. with others. The opposite word might be selfish. Practicing _______________ity can also reduce stress and is a beautiful gift that promotes selflessness. 

K____ Being thoughtful and good to others. Another word that is similar to this would be NICE. Something I often say is to be _____ to yourself and be _____ to others at the end of SEL class. 

Dance party after finding the Chouette D’Or treasure



Tags:  SEL treasure hunt

From SEL to Black Lives Matter

Date Posted:  Thursday, February 18, 2021


Christopher, SEL Coach, works to incorporate lessons that reflect the world in which we live in: the theme for this year is black joy. The idea around focusing on Black Lives Matter during January and not February, is that lessons are not necessarily about history but more about black voices, allyship, representation, inclusion, and empathy. Essentially, the theme of Black Lives Matter is seen through the lens of SEL with compassion and empathy being the key entry points. Christopher looks at his lessons as the “primer” prior to Black History Month! And of course, many of the themes and discussions will be ongoing throughout the year and years.

Christopher spent the whole month of January working on Black Lives Matter and also sharing stories by black authors. The students read many books together, and also watched Lupita Nyong’o read her book Sulwe, on screen. It’s very important for the kids to see a black author reading their own book, just for them! Sulwe is the first book which touches on colorism and the importance of seeing the beauty and value of having dark skin. It was a great addition and really spoke to the students.

Another book shared was Sometimes People March, which discusses the need to march together when needing to resist injustice. It also talks about the importance of communal allyship and the need to rally against or for a common cause.

Mae Among the Stars is the real life story of Dr. Mae Jemison, the first African-American astronaut. The message of the book is that if you believe in it, and work hard for it, anything is possible!

For the second year, Christopher also followed the Black Lives Matter movement in the school curriculum, where the children learn how to make posters based on the 13 principles of Black Lives Matter. What Christopher says he enjoys most of all is that the Black Lives Matter in the school curriculum is so inclusive! The children also get to walk by their beautiful pieces of art every day which gives them a sense of pride and that they are part of a common cause. They will be invited to take their art home this month to put up in their windows if they so desire, The SEL program provides a great framework through which to study Black Lives Matter, as well as Black History Month, and allows us to tie in important themes from the world around us directly into the curriculum.

Tags:  SEL BLM black lives matter curriculum

SEL Fall 2020 Update

Date Posted:  Tuesday, October 20, 2020

I always love teaching SEL* (Social, Emotional Learning), but this year has definitely thrown some curve-balls our way. Amidst the onset of COVID, SEL class saw some interesting changes. Not only was Zoom the new format, some very challenging topics began to dominate class time, and I had to reexamine how I could best serve our students. I consulted with Carla, our school counselor and dug deeply into her amazing library at school for ideas, visual aids, and relevant books to share with the kids. Carla has been so helpful in her guidance and support during COVID and these times of racial injustice; I couldn't have done it without her!

During COVID, as always, SEL classes begin with three deep breaths and some mindfulness practices; also save time at the end for any questions or concerns students may have. My goal is always to keep class positive, open, and a place where students can feel safe. I often give advice to help with any difficulties the students are going through. When we moved to distance learning, I found that some of the traditional SEL material didn't translate well via Zoom, so I started to read books aloud that were connected to the topics we were discussing and felt that this format really worked best. 

Students are very attuned to what is going on in the world around them, and we found ourselves discussing complex topics, like illness and anxiety related to COVID-19 and the social unrest and racism that has been playing out in real time. Many of our younger students were very shocked to hear about how Black people are being treated in this country, while some of our students have been directly affected by COVID through the loss of some family members. These difficult topics are now at the forefront of our classes. We spoke very openly about it and I sensed that this was the best way to go about it. I’m sure parents are doing much of the same at home! 

We had some emotional and very engaging discussions. I illustrated what was happening regarding the social unrest and racism in our country through the book Something Happened in Our Town, A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice. The book helped the children understand the struggles of what Black families experience regularly. This perspective allowed the children to start to understand the concept of empathy towards others. During these discussions, it was clear to me that our students are already so loving and kind-hearted, and that they deeply care for others. It’s a direct reflection of the love and support they get at home. 

It is my job to do my best to nurture these positive qualities that already exist within them. It breaks my heart to think that people of color and other marginalized people have been suffering so badly and for so long. I sensed that many of the children felt this sadness upon learning about how prominent racism really is. As a result of what is transpiring in our world right now, I have revamped the SEL curriculum. I want it to better reflect the needs of the students and what they are now seeing and experiencing. Here are the topics I will touch on this year as we move forward with your children’s best interests in mind. Keep in mind that many of the topics will come up again during the year and won’t live exclusively in their monthly slots. 


  • What is SEL? A breakdown and REVIEW for our students 
  • Gender Identity and Expression
  • Latinx stories and activities (Latinx Heritage Month)
  • Indigenous People's Day origin and meaning


  • Mindfulness/Meditation (touch on collective anxiety and how to process and best deal with it)
  • Learning about diverse types of families/people with different learning styles/personalities/physical and mental challenges (neurodiversity)
  • Social Justice and Activism


  • Conflict resolution                    
  • Anger management/Emotion regulation
  • Native American Heritage Month/Learning about local tribes Oholone and Coastal Mi Wok


  • Self Empowerment/Finding your voice
  • Self esteem


  • Black Lives Matters/Anti-Racism/Being an Upstander
  • Resilience/Perseverance
  • Growth mindset
  • Feeling safe/dealing with anxiety/social isolation/fear


  • African American History Month
  • Understanding feelings in yourself and others
  • Learning to respect others with different Socio-economic 
  • backgrounds and ethnicities 
  • Community Service


  • Bullying/Cliques; Learning to be an upstander and standing up to others
  • National Women’s History Month (Gender equality and equity)
  • Meditation Part 2           


  • Empathy and Compassion
  • Good Communication/Learning how to make a meaningful apology
  • Active Listening


  • Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
  • The connection between Restorative Justice and Indigenous people
  • Meditation Part 3


  • LGBT Pride month (Compassion and understanding for ourselves and others)
  • Climate Change

*Notes about SEL

S.E.L. stands for Social and Emotional Learning 

The purpose of this class is to help students learn to understand and regulate their emotions, learn conflict resolution strategies, learn how to be empathetic and caring to others, feel safe and supported, and to find a comfortable place to be during these tumultuous times. My priority is to help our students get along well and bring out the best in themselves and in one another. Classes will touch on the themes above and will be age-appropriate. Some themes will be primarily geared towards grades 3-5. Class themes may also change based upon students' specific needs and struggles. If you have any questions please email me anytime! 

Tags:  SEL social emotional learning
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