Movement-Based Social-Emotional Learning Activities

“Social-emotional learning is an integral part of education and human development SEL is 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.”

Social-Emotional Learning

Incorporating SEL in schools has long-lasting and global results. Teaching students at a young age how to manage their emotions, resolve issues, and work together, can positively impact their academic performance, and ability to thrive in their future careers and communities.

SEL also fits into trauma-informed instruction by helping students reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.

Social Emotional Learning

Movement-Based Learning’s Role in SEL

Movement is an amazing vehicle for students to learn social-emotional skills. Our program offers engaging learning opportunities for students to be creative and work together.


Movement-based learning can help with the overall management of emotions and stress levels. 


Movement-based learning allows students to view their strengths in a new light and makes their challenge areas seem more attainable.

Responsible Decision Making

Movement-based learning improves the development of complex cognitive abilities like planning, thought analysis, creativity, abstract thinking.

Relationship Skills

Movement-based learning is easy to implement as whole classroom activities. It gives students the opportunity to work together and solve problems. 

Social Awareness

Movement-based learning can create an environment where students can show understanding when working with others on problems.

Healing ACEs with Social Emotional Learning

Including social-emotional learning in your classroom can help students reduce toxic stress and increase self-management, responsible decision making, relationship skills, social, and self-awareness, all core principles of CASEL’s core competence areas.

Click to download a free emotional check-in worksheet to use with your students!

How Does Movement Alleviate the Impact of ACEs?

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) can limit small proteins called “growth factors,” from being secreted in the brain. These growth factors help maintain plasticity and repair neurons in the developing brain.

The release of one growth factor called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is enhanced by movement!

Increased BDNF levels make our brains less vulnerable to stress. (Notaras & van de Buuse, 2020)

Strengthening neural connections through play and movement is extremely important! The rapidly developing brain is forming one million new neural connections a second during this crucial development period (Harris, 2019).

Learn strategies for including social-emotional learning in your classroom at a Virtual PD for K-5th grade teachers: Trauma and Learning

Math & Movement SEL Curriculum Project

Check out our program options that are perfect for schools looking to include more movement-based learning in their lessons.